Part 3: Chapter 1, Stage 2
Enter ISA Soldiers, and Helghast Sniper obfuscated by scenery
ISA SOLDIER 1
Keep thy heads concealed!
Salutations, soldier. Appraise me of the situation.
ISA SOLDIER 1
Hail, Captain Templar, thou art a most welcome sight.
We hast rebuked the enemy's assault, yet remain assailable thitherward.
Tis a sniper. Our rifle was abandoned in the water tower yonder.
We can givest thou covering fire to retrieve it.
Aye, I mark thee. Hold fast.
Craven fly-bitten apple-johns, thou art death-marked!
ISA SOLDIER 2
God's blood, save us, sir!
ISA SOLDIER 3
No! Not Johnson, he was naught but a boy!
ISA SOLDIER 1
The whoreson expires! Rally, men, we go hence to the HQ.
Soldier, how fare you?
ISA SOLDIER 3
Alas, poor Johnson! I knew him, Captain Templar: a fellow
of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy: he hath--
Enough, get thee gone. To the HQ.
Welcome back to the first chapter of Killzone 1, wherein we experience a "greatest hits" of WWI and WWII styles of warfare! Today we're going to see street-to-street combat, the likes of which were seen at the Battle Of Stalingrad. Basically, the ISA are combating the Heghast in bombed-out city ruins and fighting over one block at a time.
Compare what we're seeing in the level to images of the Battle Of Stalingrad. Or, heck, check out this picture I found (only, you have to replace Russian with ISA and German with Helghast):
I should note that most historians consider the Battle Of Stalingrad to be a key turning point in the European theatre, marking when Germany stopped making gains and the tide of the battle began to turn in favour of the Allies. This is not the case here. This stage will not be a turning point for the ISA in the invasion of Vekta.
Oh, and we also notice that we have arms at this point:
The reason our arms are so visible during actions like vaulting over debris, hitting switches, reloading, and climbing ladders is the very same reason we don't have a "jump" button. It grounds the player into the game character and provides a more realistic "weighted" experience. Truly. When asked if they were going to add in a "jump" function to Killzone HD, Technical Director Michiel van der Leeuw and Senior Programmer Frank Compagner said:
FC: No, something like that would require extensive changes to the levels, to prevent players from climbing out of the geometry.
ML: More importantly, it would run counter to what we were trying to do with Killzone. The omission of the jump button was a very deliberate design decision, almost like a statement against other shooters of the time. We wanted players to have a visceral, realistic experience, and that meant preventing them from traversing our game by bunny-hopping or rocket-jumping. Even when we re-introduced jumps for the obstacle-heavy terrains in Killzone 2, they were weighty jumps not perfect parabolic arcs, but the sort of short leaps a heavily packed soldier would make.
Also, is there anyone who's into guns? What's the benefit of having an orange-coloured scope? Is it like wearing those glasses that reduce sun glare? It doesn't seem to be any sort of heat or night vision kind of thing, it's just looking through the world like looking through a glass of urine. Maybe it has something to do with the Helghast "seeing red" when it comes to fighting the ISA, though it's really more an amber colour than a red.
I also noticed more Hakkendorf buildings throughout the level. It must be the name of a company, because the city we're fighting through is the aptly-named Vekta City.
I also thought this bit of the level was sort of poetic. What we're playing is essentially a corridor shooter. Killzone opens up in places, but we're never not being funneled through a linear corridor. The fact that this corridor/tunnel is raised upwards is a clever microcosm of the entire first game. We're going to spend our time being funneled through corridors onwards and upwards until we end up in the mountains of Vekta. If I could sum up Killzone in a single image, it would be this: the player being funneled upwards. Now, if I could sum up Killzone 2 in a single image, it would be the player being funneled downwards. I'm going to go reread Heart of Darkness to make sure I'm getting my analogies straight, but I kind of view the first game as an anti-Heart of Darkness, with the characters going down the river away from madness and despair and into clarity and hope. Killzone 2 is where it gets dark and the characters go up the river to reach the inevitable confrontation with Kurtz.
Today we're going too look at the Early Vektan Era.
I've made reference to Vekta and Helghan being some sort of bizarro America and Britain before, and this history isn't helping. 12 Colonies on Vekta? Does that make Helghan the 13th? (If so, does that make Helghan Georgia?) The perceived allusions to the American revolution that I noted were in Visari's speech only seem more plausible.
I can't wait for the inevitable release of Killzone 4 which takes place on Gyre and is basically Pacific War In Space. Haha, just kidding! Gyre will never ever be mentioned again in the Killzone mythos!
Anyways, here we have the formation of the ISA. Already we can see they're going to be a very bureaucratic organization, entirely government-run and government-funded. I think it's neat that each government gets its own little ISA force to play with, though.
Everything is just peachy, but we've just been set up for a major point of conflict. For ships to get from Vekta to ANYWHERE ELSE, they must pass through Helghan airspace. Same for any ships on Earth, Gyre, or any other colony wanting to reach Vekta: they need to pass through Helghan. Not problem now that every one is on the same side, but--well, we'll see how long that lasts.
Yup, everything is just peachy. Though, I imagine having both planet's governments on Vekta is going to cause some friction down the line. Also, the ISA getting uppity about Helghan wanting to have its own military force is ridiculous. It's clear that Vektan politicians want their planet to remain the seat of power in Alpha Centauri even this early in the timeline. Not a crazy idea, either, as Vekta is much more desirable planet to live on.
Oh, and just a reminder of the mentioned triad:
The Helghan Corporation is now basically self-sufficient from Earth. That's gotta be bothering the UCN/UCA.
Remember, the ISA are UCN backed. Despite their independence, you go high enough up the ISA chain and you'll find links to the UCN/UCA. The Helghan Corporation/Protectorate is a private company compared to the ISA's Earth government roots. The more independent they become they unhappier Earth will be (and the more sanctions will be imposed).
The Alpha Centauri purchase by the new Helghan Administration has thus got to be a pretty big embarrassment for Earth. Still, caught in a rock and a hard place. At least Earth still exerts a tonne of control through UCN/UCA forces and ISA Command in the area. This won't last, though, and we all know it.
First thing's first: how bad is that sniper rifle? While it's basically a one-hit kill no matter where you hit an enemy, it's awkward to see out of, has a slow firing rate, and is awkward to aim. I said awkward twice, there. It's really awkward. See, while aiming you don't move the screen to line up your sights. You move a reticule within the screen. It's really hard to describe without experience this horror for yourself, but you can probably get an idea of what a joke it is in the video. I mean, it's not totally broken, but it doesn't really work either. Probably a good thing they stopped producing them.
Oh, I'd also like to say a few words about Killzone HD. With the release of the Killzone Trilogy, Guerrilla decided to dig up the old back-up files from a shoe box and do an HD version of the first entry in the series. Yeah, you heard that right, shoe box. Anyways, the obvious difference is that the game now supports 720p and has trophies. It also looks nicer because the graphics are uncompressed, unlike the PS2 version. Oh, and there's been a number of minor bug fixes that fix some invisible walls, draw distance, and just generally improve gameplay. Yeah. So if you think this game looks clunky and awkward now, ooooh boy, you haven't played the PS2 original. (I unironically love them both). So yeah, everything is better in Killzone HD, even though they didn't add in a "jump" button.
Helghast Light Hover Tank
This tank strikes a balance between the maneuverability and speed of the Hover APC and the firepower of heavier Helghast tanks. In fact, the Hover Tank can keep pace with Hover APCs, which is probably why they were used extensively in the first strike during the invasion of Vekta. However, this speed comes at a cost. They are rather lightly armour and can easily be dismantled by a group of ISA soldiers with anti-tank weaponry. They do not see much use outside of the blitzkrieg on Vekta.
Aka the StA-52 Sniper/Light Assault Rifle. Manufactured by Stahl Arms, it was the only known sniper rifle fielded during the Vektan invasion. Not long after, a superior sniper rifle manufactured by the Visari Corporation would enter production. This would be the sniper rifle seen during ISA invasion of Helghan. Not that this hurt Stahl Arms all that much, they pretty much produce every other gun in the Helghast inventory. This rifle is a heavily modified version of the standard StA-52 LAR, with six high-calibre rounds and an adjustable scope. Considering how crap this gun winds up being, though, it's probably a good thing they stopped producing them.
There aren't a lot of guns in this level, so I want to talk quickly about the two largest corporations on Helghan. That they're both arms manufacturers should come as no surprise.
As you can see, Stahl Arms borrows the Helghast triad for their logo. Very patriotic. They are the largest corporation on Helghan and focus almost primarily on research, development, and production for the Helghast military. They focus primarily on small arms for the soldiers on the ground and have a philosophy devoted almost entirely to high-capacity rapid-fire weaponry. That said, there are a few factories working on extremely high-tech projects. Founded by Khage Stahl, the company is currently owned an operated by his son, Jorhan Stahl--who doesn't have much to do now, but will appear in Killzone 3.
The second largest company on Helghan, and thus Stahl Arms largest competitor, is the Autarch's own family company, the Visari Corporation. Unlike Stahl Arms, Visari Corporation focusses almost entirely on experimental weaponry and support weaponry, rarely gunpowder based. They are also responsible for manufacturing Helghan medical equipment.
Now, I'm noticing a very interesting pattern here. Helghan is very corporate, obviously. These colonies were originally created by corporations. The two largest corporations on modern Helghast basically run the entire planet. That said, notice that they are family companies? I think that's great. Who DOESN'T want to see a family company succeed? Compare this to Vekta. On Vekta it's all government corporations. One big faceless conglomerate run by the ISA. Their weapons and vehicles are developed in-house and have such exciting names as the ISA Laboratories or ISA Weapon Systems. There are no families here. There are no people here. It's just the company. Just the brand. Perhaps the Helghast are merely the logical conclusion of small family businesses standing up against faceless multi-national corporations?
That said, here's the ISA developed weapon we saw in the level:
M404 Missile Launcher
Has a dumb-fire mode and a laser-guided alternate fire. It's much lighter and easier to use/handle compared to the Helghan missile launchers fielded during the Vektan invasion. Nicknamed the "drainpipe" by ISA soldiers. After the Vektan invasion, some lunkhead in ISA R&D gave it a new paint job and started calling it the "M80 Rocket Launcher". Despite their names, the two weapons are identical--except that the M80 is only available in Killzone 2's multiplayer. Go figure.
I don't think the corporation's being family owned is supposed to make them sympathetic. I think it's supposed to scream "monarchy" or maybe "oligopoly". The people who dislike corporations and portray them as evil tend to think of the very wealthy people who often own them as the new aristocracy. We aren't seeing sentimentality over mom and pop shops via Stahl and Visari in my opinion.
The only reason I can think to have any coloring at all on your scope is some kind of tinting to reduce glare. I'm pretty sure said tinting wouldn't make the world look like piss.
"Killzone Physics" re-emerge quickly after the last video.
And I hope you've all seen The Thing--