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Review: Horizon: Zero Dawn could be the best PS4 game ever made

By Damian Seeto
Thu 23 Feb 2017
FYI, this story is more than a year old

There are many great PS4 exclusive games out there such as Uncharted 4 and Bloodborne. Horizon: Zero Dawn however blows those two games away.  Calling something the "best ever" is subjective and opinions will vary. In my personal opinion though, Horizon: Zero Dawn is the best PS4 game I have ever played and is quite possibly my favourite game of the PS4/Xbox One era.  Guerrilla Games have managed to outdo itself by actually thinking outside of the box. Instead of continuing the FPS Killzone franchise, the studio opted to make a totally new IP and I think it has paid off. This title blends in elements of lots of other gaming genres and rolls them into one.  The thing that drew me the most about the game is its excellent story. The game is set in a post apocalyptic world where robotic animals and dinosaurs rule the Earth. The main character, Aloy, has to find out why these robots are roaming the Earth and she has to solve a lot of other mysteries along the way too.  The story is one of the best I've seen in a video game since Heavy Rain. I'm not going to give out spoilers here, but all I am going to tell you is that it's very unpredictable and you will be interested in the lore and history of the game.  As for Aloy herself, she is a very likable character and at the beginning of the game she's just as clueless about everything as the player. We will see through her eyes the highs and lows of what it's like trying to survive in a Earth ravaged by robots that are trying to kill you all of the time.  Aloy also has a lot of character development and we will see the reasons why she has become so strong along the way. She is not your usual main character that is perfect in any way. Not to mention she's one of the toughest game characters I've seen in a long time.  Outside of the characters and story, the gameplay in Horizon: Zero Dawn is downright excellent. At its heart this is an action RPG as you have to level up and lots of story quests and side quests are available to you. However, the game also mixes in gameplay elements from titles across a multitude of genres. When I first played the game, I saw several elements of Rise of the Tomb Raider here. You have to craft your own weapons and find flowers to replenish your health. It's also worth mentioning your main weapon of choice is a bow and arrow.  The more you play the game, the whole map is available to you and it truly becomes an open-world experience. The world in this game is huge with lots of pretty vegetation and landmarks for you to visit. Due to the nature of how missions are constructed, the experience was similar to a Far Cry game.  Combat is where Horizon: Zero Dawn separates itself from lots of other games though. This game mixes primitive hunting techniques with modern day technology and as a result of this you have a combat system that is both unique and very satisfying.  The cool thing in this game is a futuristic gadget that Aloy finds that fits in her ear called a "focus". This focus can be used to tell her the weaknesses of the evil machines and also alerts her of her surroundings. Due to her focus, the player is allowed to play the game their own way.  An example is hiding in the bushes and striking the enemies without them seeing you. The stealth approach is advised if you don't want to risk getting damaged. That's not the only way you can play the game though as you can use Aloy's spear and take down enemies up front.  Exploiting the weaknesses of the machines also comes to play as it allows you to know which type of arrows you want to craft. Some machines are weak against fire while others hate ice and electricity. It gives some strategy to the game as opposed to just hacking and slashing all of the time.  If there is a flaw to the combat system. it's that Aloy cannot block enemy attacks. This is slightly annoying, although the game forgoes any sort of stamina bar so you can simply just spam the dodge button all of the time to avoid getting hit. The game also has no self regenerated health system so you need to find plants or use potions to keep Aloy safe! While the gameplay is mostly excellent, Horizon: Zero Dawn truly shines when it comes to its graphics. I am not exaggerating when I say this, but this is simply the best looking game on the PS4. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End looks great, although they were mid-sized linear levels. This game maintains a high visual standard and it's a huge open-world environment.  It's not just the lush and beautiful landscape that look great, but the character models appear eerily realistic too. It's the closest I've seen to real life lip and facial animations since the release of LA Noire. You won't see awkward stiff doll-like character models in this game. Before I reviewed the game at my house, I had a chance to see the game running on a PS4 Pro on a 4K television and it's even more stunning. In 4K, the detail is incredible as you can see individual bark pieces and insects on trees. The HDR also makes the sun look bright like in real life. The only downside is that there's no 60fps option for PS4 Pro owners for this game at launch. Hopefully it's something Guerrilla adds in the near future as a patch.  Despite some minor flaws, Horizon: Zero Dawn is just a masterpiece. It has the best story of any game I've played this whole generation and is arguably the prettiest game ever on PS4. In my opinion, every PS4 owner should own this game as it's the best game for the system released to date. Verdict: 10/10   

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