With Sony’s PlayStation 4 set to launch in North America in less than 12 hours, the first slew of reviews have been trickling out in anticipation for the launch fervor. While there was enough to be said about cross-platform performance of third party titles that are certain to sell well like Call of Duty: Ghosts and Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Sony’s media embargoes have limited the pre-launch coverage for their in-house titles.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the titles slated to get the most attention for launch will be the FPS Killzone: Shadowfall, action platformer Knack and retro shooter Resogun (especially with DriveClub off the table). But it seems that at least two of these exclusives are not leaping out of the gates.
Killzone: Shadowfall is the most recognizable product that Sony is offering at launch and the title currently holds a middling Metacritic score of 74. Veteran review sites have delivered a varying range of scores to the new entry to the Human vs Helghast shooter, from Destructoid’s solid 90 to Polygon’s scathing 5/10. I have played all the core titles in the series, starting from the original outing on the PlayStation 2, and have maintained that Killzone will never be the Halo killer that Sony wants it to be. The original Killzone had good ideas but was on an underpowered machine and was clunky in its execution. Killzone 2 cleaned up much of these flaws and was a very good game, but Killzone 3 brought the series to a very mediocre point. It seems that Shadowfall, with its new story, is struggling to distinguish itself from its predecessors.
Knack is getting plastered in reviews, with an Metacritic aggregate of 59. While Knack is certainly visually appealing, it feels like a title that Sony pushed forward to hit all the corresponding metrics. They clearly felt the need for a family friendly platformer, and Knack was held to that standard. A standard that appears to be lacking. Visuals alone don’t make the next Super Mario 64 or even the next Rachet & Clank. Just remember, Kameo was considered by and large the prettiest launch game of the Xbox 360.
Lastly, I expected Resogun to be well received, but I didn’t expect it to be the headliner. A twin-stick shooter by the creators of Super Stardust HD, Resogun has the flashy visuals of classic efforts of Super Stardust and Geometry Wars, with the side scrolling mechanics that hearken back to Defender. The particle effect lightshow is dazzling reviews with a solid aggregate of 82.
I have maintained that despite the PlayStation 4’s lower price point and the guise of doing everything right pre-launch, Sony had yet to amaze me with their offerings from a software perspective. I still believe that Microsoft has the advantage especially with Forza Motorsport 5 at launch and Titanfall next spring. Sony had better hope InFamous: Second Son is a system seller or Microsoft might just catch up.