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PS4 Game Review


Horizon Zero Dawn

 

Format: PS4
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Guerrilla Games
RRP: £TBC
Age Restrictions: 16+
Release Date: 01 March 2016


Horizon Zero Dawn is a new action role playing game exclusively for the PlayStation 4 system, developed by the award winning Guerrilla Games, creators of PlayStation’s Killzone franchise. As the main protagonist Aloy, a skilled hunter, players explore a world inhabited by mysterious mechanized creatures. Embark on a journey to unravel mysteries of tribal societies, ancient artifacts and advanced technologies that will determine the fate of this planet, and of life itself...

Foreword: I've seen a lot of sites giving Horizon Zero Dawn incredible reviews, with 10/10 being abundant across the board, and I can't quite understand why; maybe it's a result of the massive hype surrounding the game, maybe they're inflating their scores to account for the newly released Nintendo Switch, or maybe they're just seeing something I'm not. Either way, here is my honest (and unpopular) opinion on why Horizon Zero Dawn is not as good as the critics may tell you. Let's go:

Review imageHorizon Zero Dawn, or 'Generic McGenericGame' as I like to call it, wouldn't know an original thought if one walked up to it and punched it in its Dinosaur Tower-shaped face. It feels like I'm playing Ubisoft: The Game, aka another open world action game with bows. It even has climbable towers to reveal the map, for GabeN's sake!

"But the Dinosaurs!", you may cry, and I shall direct you to Far Cry: Primal. "But, the generic mentor/father figure who'll inevitably die" (it's not a spoiler if everyone knows it)!, and for that, I ask that you look at literally any other game, EVER.

See my point yet?

"But John, you forget the plot!" Ah, now that is an interesting one, the plot...

Let's see:

Review imageThe mistake many people made with Horizon Zero Dawn's plot is thus: confusing an interesting mystery for a good character. To explain my point, we shall now discuss the basics of storytelling: One of the key parts of good storytelling is drawing your audience in and getting them on your hero(ine)'s side; in most cases this is achieved by invoking empathy, for obvious reasons - if you can get your audience feeling for your character, then they’re immediately on your side.

Horizon Zero Dawn attempts this: we are introduced to the mentor destined to die (just admit it) and almost instantly we feel empathy for him - Success! Where the game falls down however, is in getting us to like the main character, for we are never told enough about her.

No doubt, the mystery itself is interesting, who doesn’t like a good quest to discover your own origins? But the main character is just so uninteresting it’s impossible to care. Great, she has some hobbies! Why do I care? We need a reason to care, and until we get that the plot will just never work.

Review imageThen we get onto the graphics, much praised.Even I’ll admit that on a PS4 Pro, the game looks beautiful and runs beautifully, but - and this is a big but - like many recent games Horizon Zero Dawn falls into a trap: ‘Looking great’ on a PS4 Pro in boost mode, and merely ‘running’ on a standard PS4 (still the majority of PS4s owned, by the way). On that note, let’s talk about PS4 performance: not good. The game runs like a one-legged poodle, barely hitting 25fps in many points, let alone 30. And yes I am fully aware that it has become the done thing to laugh at critics talking about framerates, but some of the drops in this game are rubbish.

To sum up: If you've never played Far Cry 3 before, or you think you’d like to play it again in third-person, at 25fps, then Horizon Zero Dawn is the game for you. Otherwise, give it a miss.

6

John Wyllie

Review image

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