Part 7: Chapter 4, Stages 1 & 2
- Killzone: Liberation - Chapter 4, Stages 1 & 2 (with commentary by Blind Sally, nine-gear crow, & CJacobs)
As we enter the home stretch for Killzone: Liberation, Sally and I will joined for the rest of the LP by our good Internet Friend CJacobs. CJacobs, you might remember, previously joined us for Chapter 9 of Killzone 1, as well as the majority of Killzone 2 not commented on by Lazyfire. Sally and I have also joined CJacobs (and fellow Killzone 1 and Killzone 2 guest commentator JamieTheD) for the majority of Dead Space 3. He's also done some really sweet LPs of Resident Evil: Revelations 2 with Skippy Granola, and Spec Ops: The Line (where I and my esteemed goon colleagues Faerie Fortune, poorlywrittennovel, Tyty, FPZero, ddinkins and Mersenne make his life a living hell during the FUBAR Mode bonus stream!).
This first video of Chapter 4 sees us whisked off to the last Helghast stronghold in Southern Vekta, their fortress and airfield in the Adlez Montains south of the Redavni Plains. We have two objectives ahead of us: locate and rescue both Rico and Evelyn Batton, and capture Armin Metrac and get him to reveal the identity of his ISA mole.
STAGE 1: INFILTRATION
First up, the stage names of this chapter all have tion suffixes to them. I dont know if this is just a coincidence or if its someone at Guerrilla being funny, but regardless, well see the payoff to this naming scheme in the next update.
And second off, oh shit were starting this stage on yet another rickety ISA Dropship. You know, after the disaster showing they put in last chapter, I can suddenly see why Vekta expedited the deployment of the Intruders for Killzone 2.
Actually, its someone were already very familiar with. Why, its Luger! Yay Luger! You and Hakha were the best non-General Anime parts of Killzone 1.
Chapter 4 is Lugers first, and ultimately last physical appearance in Killzone: Liberation. You can play as her in multiplayer though, but youll have to unlock her first. To do so requires the Chapter 5 DLC, which you then need to beat on any difficulty level, and then score Gold Medals in each of the DLCs 6 Challenge Mission minigames, which I touch on the updated Chapter 2 and will cover more in-depth in the Epilogue update.
Beyond that, we also learn that Luger is a redhead, apparently. Well, more dark aburn, really, but the point remains, we now have a complete picture of what Luger looks like as a woman. Ironically, however, while she exposes her hair, she covers up her face in Liberation, even though weve already seen it in Killzone 1 (and made fun of its wacky proportions). Aaaand we still dont know whether or not Luger is her real name or a codename or whether its her first or last name if its the former.
To this day, Shadow Marshal Luger remains one of the enduring mysteries of the Killzone franchise, and Im actually kind of surprised that Guerrilla never published any supplementary material designed to flesh out her character like they have with just about every other character in the franchise. Perhaps it was intentional on Guerrillas part, as Luger is a black ops operative, after all. Literally the only tangible link between her and the audience is Templar. Hes the only person who knows anything about her having dated her in the past, and were gonna see how they part company for good in short order.
Blind Sally and Neruz had this to add about the portrayal of Luger's face, or lack thereof, in the Killzone franchise:
Blind Sally posted:
I find the design changes for Luger kinda lame. She's joining us on a SNOW level. Why would she suddenly decide to wear less of her mask? At the very least, she'd want a toque or something. I mean, I understand the changes. With the camera zoomed out, Luger dressed entirely in black, with no ISA orange highlights, might be confused for a Helghast soldier. But why not give her some other visual qualifier? Adding some ISA orange isn't going to hurt. Giving Luger a ponytail reminds me of giving Ms Pac-Man a bow--it's because their both girls.
The red hair bit is funny, though. Considering people believe red hair is going to go extinct in a hundred years or so, it's nice to see that's not true in the Killzone universe.
The mask problem again! Sometimes I feel like we will still be asking this exact same question "Why did this character take off their mask" a century from now and a century from now filmmakers and designers and whatnot will still be responding with "Because otherwise you can't tell who they are!" And they will still be wrong.
For some reason people in the business of making movies, tv shows and video games have a gigantic taboo against having major characters faces obscured in any way for any significant length of time, if at all. It was frankly a minor miracle that Iron Man spent as much time wearing his mask as he did in the movies and even then they felt they had to constantly cut to showing Stark's face inside the suit and the faceplate is still repeatedly ripped off. If you ask directors and artists and whatnot why they keep doing this they will always give you the same answer; 'Viewers need to be able to see a human face to connect with the character, no face, no emotional connection' but there is a fair amount of evidence that this is not actually true.
So yeah, the reason she takes her mask off is so you can identify her more easily. The fact that exactly the same result could be achieved by just giving the mask some unique and distinctive paint or something similar never seems to occur to developers.
So just because shes joining Templar
Secondly, the ISA apparently didnt even know this place existed until just recently (we can thank our carefully positioned mole for that one), and Luger was only able to triangulate its position by monitoring transmissions between Cobars spider tank and Metrac here at the base.
And thirdly, weve found out that this is where the Helghast are storing the Red Dust bombs they stole from Rayhoven. So it looks like everythings lining up for a nice neat Action Movie Finale. Well get the girl, save our best friend, defeat the villain, and recover the stolen nukes in one fell swoop, preferably while flying away from a giant fireball in a sweet ass jet plane.
Or we would, if this wasnt Killzone.
But because this IS Killzone we get to see the one thing nobody really cared about seeing in the first game again: Jan being kind of a dick to Luger.
I should also point out, that this comes at the end of the first stage, so we've already been through about ten minutes worth of Luger being awesome and helping us out to get this far. So, no, Jan is not immediately sending her away like it kind of looks like he is when you go from the last screenshot to this one.
Actually, hes cutting her loose to protect her. Ever the gentleman, eh Jan? Hey, what about Hakhas court-marshal? Did you ever stop and think about thaoh right, you cant court-marshal a hallucination.
We also learn here that this little excursion to save Rico and Evelyn is being done off the books, so to speak, most likely so as not to tip off the ISA mole who we still totally have NO idea what-so-ever who they are. Am I right? I mean, NOBODY has guessed who the mole is yet, right?
That being said, Im pretty sure Luger can beat the rap for this one. I mean, the bar for court-marshaling a Shadow Marshal over anything has got to be ludicrously high given how theyre the ISAs top in-field operatives and are responsible for all sorts of black ops and wetwork shit that would get ISA regulars a next-day appointment with the firing squad if done openly, dont you think?
Still, Luger protests.
And Jan comes back with probably the most unnecessary in the entire franchise. And, is it just me, or does this line seem to imply that after all their relationship ups and down and all the angst Lugers recruitment into the Shadow Marshals and her focus on her career over him caused for him, it was ultimately Jan who dumped her, not the other way around like weve been led to believe by the first game?
So yeah, way to be a needless dick and bring up a rather dark part of both of your lives for no reason, Jan. Still, if nothing else this shows that after everything theyve been through over the course of Killzone 1 and now Liberation, Jan is now finally 100% over Luger.
Taking down Adams helped him find closure.
Taking down Metrac will help him finally move on.
But Luger isnt about to take that lying down. For you see, Luger is an Action Heroine, and she too has her own reasons for finding Rico which we never really learn of.
I want to be snide and chalk this one up to because friendship . Seriously though, I think shes doing this rescue mission more for Templars benefit than she is Ricos. Luger never really struck me as having warmed up to Rico over the course of the first game, but she knows Jan well enough to realize what a soldier and a friend like Rico would mean to Jan in the midst of a war where hes been betrayed by men and fate more times than he probably should have over the span of about three months.
STAGE 2: REVELATION
Stage 2 begins with our first sighting of Rico since the middle of Chapter 3. Forgive the terrible PSP-quality video passed through several layers to visual screwery look to the image. Trust me, thats him in the very centre.
See! Look, theres Rico! And hes with Metrac too. How convenient. Metracs carting him around the base openly and in handcuffs while simultaneous exposi-gloating to him as villains of his Shakespearean stature tend to do.
Here, hes letting us in on a plot detail that will inform the back half of this chapter; Stratsons ordered an airstrike on the Adlez fortress to take out both the Red Dust nukes and Metracs forces in one blow. Rico and Evelyn have already been written off as casualties of war, it would seem.
Rico has a surprisingly philosophical take on being hung out to dry by his superiors. Its a surprising moment of situational insight from a man who once literally said, and Im quoting here:
The sad part is, Metrac actually has the moral high ground here. Despite whatever damage the Helghast are currently doing to Vekta, nuking an entire hemisphere of a planetregardless of how tactical these tactical nukes really arewould do more crippling damage than anything the Helghast could be capable of inflicting themselves.
Ya know, its almost like Strastons plan is designed to intentionally cripple the Vektans and further inflame the Helghast socially and politically.
I wonder why that is?
Oh and then Metrac goes and immediately loses said moral high ground by revealing hes torturing Evelyn.
Nice work, jackass.
So under pain of torture, Evelyn has spilled the secrets of Stratsons plan to Metrac plans Metrac already knew thanks to his mole in ISA command, but I guess wringing the info out of Batton provides the mole with a measure of plausible deniability.
Oh, and it also makes Metrac look like a huge asshole to the audience. But moreover on that, the REAL thing Metrac is trying to torture out of Evelyn are the detonation codes for Red Dust so that the Helghast can use it against the Vektans instead! MWAHAHAHA!!!
The fuck was I saying about moral high ground again?
Yes, especially you, Armin.
And now we begin a subplot that will stretch well into Chapter 5 of Liberation and the ramifications of which we will be feeling up to closing seconds of Killzone 3: The Temptation, Fall, and Condemnation of Rico Velasquez.
Metrac has made the fateful offer: join me, and together we can end this destructive conflict. The question now is, will Rico listen to him, and why the hell would he even?
And as Metrac leads Rico away, the big steel doors slam shut on Evelyns torture chamber again as she pleads with her Helghan interrogators for mercy.
For all the shit I give Killzone 1, I will at least grant it this: at least it didnt have (overt) torture in it.
When Jan happens upon her at the end of the level, shes in a very bad way. Even more so if all that blood is actually hers .
Im Jan Templar, Im here to rescue you again.
...Also, where the fuck did you go, Evelyn?
Ah, good old PSP "what is this 'Effort' you speak of?" cutscenes.
Aaaaah, shes lost like three peoples worth of blood there, Jan. I dont think shes what youd call okay.
But Jan has no time for the old I was just repeatedly electrocuted in various unspeakable places on my body excuse, and drags our fair Dr. Batton up and out of the torture chair.
To Evelyns credit, shes no distressed damsel when push comes to shove. She springs right up and is on the move again, ready to be of as much help as a delirious, malnourished, scared, and pain-wracked non-combatant can be to Jan
Interesting piece of continuity here: Evelyn hasnt officially met Rico yet and doesnt even know his name, yet by the time Killzone 2 rolls around, Evelyn and Rico will be on a first-name basis and have roughly the same working relationship as him and Luger once did.
And with that, Evelyn gives us or final destination for the base game of Killzone: Liberation, the Adlez Base airfield.
And thats it for plot for this update. Despite this stage being called revelations, the doozy reveals dont actually come until Stages 3 & 4.
But when they get here, ooh boy they needed to make a free DLC fifth chapter for the game to explain what the fuck just happened.
Somehow I still have more nitty gritty gameplay mechanics to explain about this game despite it being 3/4's over now. Thanks, Luger Obama!
So yeah, the biggest and most notable addition to this update is that Luger joins us as our AI partner for all of Stage 1 and most of Stage 2. She has a full 100 HP like the player characters do for this stage and wields the explosive-tipped crossbow during gameplay... yet, as Blind Sally points out, she appears holding the ISA M82 Assault Rifle in cutscenes. Go figure.
Also, heres more of Guerrilla being as detail-oriented as ever: all the Helgoons patrolling Metracs snow base have white uniforms rather than gray ones. Though, really, all the game is doing it taking advantage of its multiplayer team colouring system, which allows you to customize your multiplayer character in a variety of pallets including, you guessed it, white.
Lugers also got a couple of token NPC prompt points which show off some of her old school Killzone 1 abilities. Here you can see a switch atop this gate rampart which will open this gate here. We cant get to it, but because Luger is still the Stealth Character stereotype from the first game, she can climb up her Action Rope and activate the switch for Templar
And then, because this is a Killzone game in snow level, Luger just randomly decides to run into the floor. That's her health bar there hovering over the concrete in center frame, BTW.
What happened here was a wonderful three-way disastrofuck of Killzone Physics, Luger missing a programming flag to recognize the ramp as a walkable surface, and the game checkpoint saving right there as she runs into the level geometry leading to the hilarious Benny Hill sequence seen in the video of us trying and failing to coax her out of the floor.
Eventually, once her collision detection parameters start working properly again, you can have her climb up to this catwalk and have her systematically shut off these comically oversized pistons the Helghast have set up right in the middle of an otherwise vital thoroughfare in the middle of their base.
And just like Evelyn, Luger isnt about to take Jan being a brickheaded goob lying down, so she storms into the base after him
Though this does have the unintentional effect of nullifying Jans (admittedly quite dickish) one moment of agency in their relationship (as seen by us the audience, at least), by having her come in and go no its not over, sorry.
Now, more than ever, its easy to see that Luger was the decision maker in her and Templars relationship. Either way it doesnt really matter anymore, as by this point Killzone is officially done with hokey Soap Opera Relationship Drama.
Until we get to Malcolm McDowell and Ray Winstones amazeballs hatemance in Killzone 3.
Stage 1 doesnt have that much notable to say about it other than the Giant Pistons of Fuck Physics. But Stage 2 has a few more notable setpieces.
First up, another fortress defense miniboss sequence.
Luger holes up in the communications bunker to try and hack her way into opening up the prison compound of the base. Meanwhile, Metracs forces proceed to throw as many men as they can at Templar
The good part about this bit is that theres a wide open area for you (and your co-op partner) to flank Helgoons as they try to storm up to the bunker, and theres only one way into the bunker and one route to the entrance. So at least youre not having to play whack-a-mole with Helghast troopers like you did on Metracs frigate from Chapter 2.
Once you clear that miniboss, Luger takes her leave of you for good. Shell still keep you up to date with intel over the radio, but for all intents and purposes, we have officially seen the last of Shadow Marshal Luger in the Killzone franchise.
Also open-air prison cells in a frigid climate filled with ISA POW corpses who have clearly been tortured to death or left to die of exposure. Way to commit ALL the war crimes there, Metrac.
You did it!
We also get our requisite mid-chapter miniboss at the end of Stage 2, the Helghast I dont even know what the fuck that thing is.
This guy is the Helghast Supreme Trooper, a precursor to the Helghast Heavies encountered in Killzones 2 and 3.
The Supreme Trooper, as the name implies, is a genetically and mechanically enhanced, steroid and psychotropically augmented super soldier pretty much custom designed to carry various Helghast heavy weaponry. Their armor is purported to be bulletproof and thanks to the cocktail of mind-altering drugs flowing through their veins, they also feel no pain.
Because today is brought to you by the letter F for thats really Fucked up!
This guy is, mercifully, the only Supreme Trooper in Liberation.
As you can see, he wields a VnS-10B Scylla Cerberus Chaingun, which has infinite ammo and a blisteringly high rate of fire, and does enough damage to eventually winnow away cover positions, not unlike Cobars Spider Tank was able to one update prior.
In single player, you need to lure him out of his spawn cradle and get him to chase you around this little one-way loop that surrounds the platform. The idea being that you would use your speed to eventually lap the slower Supreme Trooper and then shoot him in the back where hes most weakest.
All in all, a major pain and an appropriately challenging penultimate boss battle for the game.
In Co-Op, however, this guy is a little easier to deal with
Because theres two of you together, you can take turns rope-a-doping him, confusing his targeting strings to effectively trap him on the platform, as he will run directly at the closest target. Meaning one player can draw the Heavys attention and duck in and out of cover while the other player can rough him up with near impunity.
The Heavy has over 700 HP, yet I dont think this fight lasts longer than two minutes.
Also, near the end of the level, I pick up the Scylla Cerberus for myself out of a chest. The Scylla is actually unavailable to the player in the base game of Liberation and will only be unlocked for use if you download and use the Chapter 5 DLC, which you can get for free anyway.
The Scylla has infinite ammo in-game, though it does have a relatively quick overheat window limiting you mainly to short burst firing of it. If you let it go for longer than about 10 seconds, youre liable to overheat the gun and be subjected to a rather lengthy cooldown period leaving you vulnerable before you can fire again.
And thus we arrive at another curtain call for a Killzone mainstay. Like I mentioned earlier in the update, there's virtually zero supplementary information available on Luger, at least which hasn't already been covered in any of Blind Sally's other updates for Killzones 1 & 2 so far. The Killzone Wiki claims that in the months following Liberation, once the Helghast were expunged from Vekta completely, Luger was assigned to another deep cover mission by Shadow Marshal HQ, one that took her out of contact with Jan and Rico completely, and she effectively disappeared from public life and recorded history alike. During the debate over Vekta's response to the Helghast invasion, Hakha fronted the proposal to the Vektan Parliament that Luger be sent to Helghan to assassinate Visari covertly and end the larger war before it even began with a decapitation strike.
His proposal was declined in favor of the invasion seen in Killzone 2, with the rationale being that the ISA wanted to capture Visari alive and place him on trial for his crimes against both the Vektan and Helghan peoples, which an assassination strike would preclude.
...Allegedly, anyway. The Killzone Wiki doesn't cite any source for this info so it might just be made up garbage. And you know what, for a character with as many gray areas to her personal history as Luger has, I think a hearty "I don't honestly know" is about the most appropriate thing you can say about her in this case.
Farewell, fair maiden of the shadows. You don't want to see what's coming next anyway...
VnS-10B Scylla Chaingun (Cerberus)
Its nicknamed the bullet hose by Helghast soldiers. That should tell you everything you need to know about this beast. A joint venture by Visari Corporation and Stahl Arms (as implied by the VnS designation on its model number), the VnS-10B Scylla Cerberus is a stripped down and portable version of the standard VnS-10 Scylla mounted turret chaingun.
The VnS-10B and its Helghast Heavy operators are feared by ISA soldiers for its sheer destructive firepower. However, the weapon has a few key weaknesses, namely its weight and tendency to overheat, meaning that few non-Heavy soldiers are able to wield a VnS-10B effectively, and those that can risk damaging the weapon itself by misfiring it accidentally.
Helghast Supreme Trooper
Clad in a rig of quasi-power armour and wielding the massive VnS-10 Scylla Cerberus chaingun and a massive servo-actuated claw, the Helghast Supreme Troopers are General Armin Metrac's personal bodyguards and only appear on battlefields where Metrac is present as well. Their armour and armament is so strong they are purported to be walking tanks.
Metract and his troops