Part 19: Chapter 6, Stage 1
In the misty swamps of Vekta, Templar, Luger, Hakha, and Rico [Velasquez] awaken amidst their ship's wreckage.
Forsooth, doth this picture not look familiar to thou?
Pray, tell, what is that? You slumbering atop me?
Lady, your tongue is sharp, and yet I have no words.
We gotta get our gear outta the boat before it all drifts away. Oh shit! Helghast!
Helghast soldiers enter. They fight, and Templar, Luger, Hakha, and Rico [Velasquez] retreat under fire.
Fade in from black and we find Templar and Luger in a compromising situation. Well, we don't actually, at all. They just happened to have landed on top of each other after an explosion. However, Templar insists on making it awkward, so Luger drops some ice burns.
Thankfully, this pathetic romance is never rekindled. It ended and it ended for a reason. In a more traditional narrative, Luger and Templar would come together again at the end of the story. It's true in most action movies. Look at Die Hard. Templar is no Jon McClane, though, so this plays out more like real life. Their relationship is well and truly over. Templar is still hung up on it, but Luger has moved on.
Anyways, we're in the Space Vietnam War now. Stylistically speaking, that is. The unfortunate thing about this area, is that Guerrilla doesn't have that much to say about it. It's one of the most controversial wars in America's history (or the most controversial, depending on your viewpoint of certain modern campaigns), so there's no lack of subject matter to touch on or reference. However, the foggy swamp-jungle and surrounding grasslands are treated mostly as window-dressing.
Of course, the very fact that set-pieces like this were chosen seems purposeful. I mean, let's think about what happened to America in that time--and excuse me if some facts aren't quite correct or are a little vague, because I'm going to try and keep this as brief as possible. Vietnam was the first truly televised war, uncoloured by the propaganda of previous wars, and thus the American people were able to see what was really going on across the Pacific. The war itself was an extremely unpopular one, dividing many Americans and giving rise to massive waves of public protest. People self-immolated themselves in Vietnam and America in opposition. Soldiers left with dreams of glory, hoping to return as heroes, but instead came back burned out husks of men, spurned by the people they expected to love them. JFK was assassinated. LBJ happened. Robert McNamara happened. Henry Kissinger happened. Richard Nixon happened. The idea of Americans as the "heroes" or the "good guys" was demolished. It's no wonder historians like to say that this was the time when "America lost its innocence".
None of this is stated, but the fact that the game is conjuring images of the Vietnam War suggests it. And of course, this ties in to the skewering of traditional action hero tropes. It ties into the ISA not being the "good guys" they think they are. It ties into the idea of war being a wholly destructive force that consumes all participants. It's still early on in the Killzone franchise, but these are all notes that are going to be played again and again.
The foggy waters and bridges are particularly reminiscent of Apocalypse Now. With a screenplay written by Michael Herr, war correspondent during the Vietnam War, it has been described as one of the most accurate portrayals of the American experience in Vietnam, despite not being a true story. (If you're interested in Vietnam War fiction that shows the perspective of the North Vietnamese, I'd recommend Bảo Ninh's The Sorrow Of War). In fact, Apocalypse Now is a modernized retelling of Joseph Conrad's Heart Of Darkness, and the dark subject matter and psychosis fit remarkably well transposed into the Vietnam War.
In the game, the connections to Conrad are tenuous, unless we think of Killzone as a sort of anti-Heart Of Darkness. See, whereas Conrad's book sees the protagonist go deeper and deeper into the jungle, delving further into the depths of madness and cruelty, Killzone takes the player away from insanity. The game opens in the middle of a warzone, the earth quite literally torn asunder, riddled with bombs, trenches, and bodies, and then on through a besieged Vekta City. Now if you're paying attention to the environment, you'll notice that as the game goes on, things become less ruined, and more whole. In fact, to quote a stage level, the players go "onward and upwards" through various environments, you'll noticed that each one is more teeming with life than the other. As we pull further from the titular "kill zone", the planet's environs seem more clean and pure, until eventually we've reached the mountaintops, covered in clean and pristine snow. Then, as if it can't get any more clean and pure, we leave the restraints of the planet entirely to go into space. Ultimately, the final message of this game (spoiler alert) is going to be that of hope.
Bear that in mind. By the time this LP ends, our heroes have hope for a better future, one without fighting. And you know what? They probably sincerely mean that. It's too bad that Jan Templar and co. are just individual cogs in a great machine, because the ISA as an organization, as I've said before, aren't quite the heroes they purport to be. The sequels, Killzone 2 & 3 promptly turn the metaphorical boat around 180 degrees and drive the player back up the river into the depths of insanity and depravity, because war is fucked and destroys everything it touches.
An aficionado of all things terrible on the internet, DStecks took time out from his studious analysis of Christian Weston Chandlers masterwork, Sonichu to join Sally and Crow for this Vietnam-era level of Killzone. Hes done a couple of LPs of his own, namely the batshit insane Christian FPS (yes, you read that right) Catechumen.
Beyond that, hes probably best known for his YouTube series Bad Reviews, wherein he reviews things that are bad, not that his reviews are bad. Hes been slowly chipping away at Sonichu for the last two years and Sonichus probably been slowly chipping away at him too. His reviews are very funny and insightful and definitely worth a watch.
DStecks on YouTube
At one point in this level, you'll be required to pass a gate-net-thing. To do so, you need to press a button up a ladder. You can easily do this with three of the characters, but if you play as Rico, you are too big to climb the ladder. Sure, makes sense, whatever. So at this point, you have to wait for Luger to hit the button for you. Fun, interactive gameplay!
Totally useless. Again, why did the Helghast bother bringing boats to Vekta? There's like, two of these in the whole game, and they're just as flimsy as Helghast Attack Boats, so they aren't worth many words.
Due to the humidity, this Helghast soldier got stuck to a tree when he died.