Revenge of the British Space Nazis
November 19, 2016 • 761 views
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Up on the podium, flanked by the flags of their nation, is Scolar Visari, the Autarch of their people and leader of the Helghast. There, he recalls the history of their people, remembering how they were forced from their planet of Vekta by the United Colonial Nations after the First Extrasolar War. For their rebellion against the UCN, the Helghan Corporation was exiled to Vekta’s death world of a neighbor. There, the new “colonists” christened the world as Helghan and spent the next several decades surviving the unforgiving world, with many dying in the process. However, the people of Helghan managed to adapt to the harsh environment, evolving into a new type of human. When Visari finally rose to power, he promised that he would take vengeance upon Vekta and the UCN. With massive developments made to their army and the purge of any would-be dissidents, the Helghast descend upon Vekta, ready to slaughter any and all that would stand in their way.
Developed by Guerrilla Games as a Playstation exclusive and first released in 2004 on the PS2, Killzone is a series of first person shooters that focus on the efforts of Vekta’s Interplanetary Strategic Alliance in trying to stop the Helghast invasion. The series has accumulated a number of sequels and a couple of spin-offs since then, with Killzone 2 initially being teased in 2006 before finally seeing a release in 2009 on the PS3. While the first game was relatively solid but was hindered by the marketing on Sony’s part, the sequel saw vast improvements and was very much an instant classic. The third game was released in 2011 and the fourth game was one of the PS4’s launch titles.
The main protagonists of the game belong to the ISA as they try to fend off the Helghast invaders and then bring the fight back to them. Jan Templar fills the role as the main hero in the first game and the next chronological installment, Killzone Liberation, where he teams up with three other soldiers in order to stop the Helghast from taking over Vekta and killing everyone on the planet, later getting promoted to Colonel for his valiant defense. His second-in-command and best friend, Rico Velasquez, is far more ill-tempered and violent, something that gets him and others into trouble every time, but he eventually learns to control it and becomes much more level-headed. In the first game, the two are joined by Shadow Marshal Luger, an old flame of Jan’s and an efficient one-woman-army, and Gregor Hakha, a half-human half-Helghast that defected to the ISA out of disgust over what the Helghast had become. In the second game, after repelling the invasion on Vekta and retaliating by invading Helghan, the main playable character is Tomas Sevchenko, a young soldier that had seen his amount of horrors on Vekta. With Templar overseeing the invasion, he leaves Rico to lead Sev and two others on the surface; Dante Garza, an optimistic yet smarmy techie, and Shawn Natko, a foul-mouthed and violent man. On the ground, they assist Captain Jason Narville, who eventually becomes one of the big leaders of the invasion through his bravery. 30 years later after the war, the Helghast have become refugees after the events of the third game. They settle on Vekta, but the tension between the Vektons and Helghast have not been forgotten. Shadow Marshall Lucas Kellan is the playable character of the fourth game who is tasked with keeping the peace and preventing another war from breaking out.
The Helghast themselves are the main antagonist of the series, what with kicking it off by invading Vekta. At the head of it all is Scolar Visari, masterfully voiced by Brian Cox, who’s powerful speeches ooze charisma much like Hitler’s back in Nazi Germany. He desires vengeance for his people, but it is subtly hinted that all he cares about is retaining his power. Under him are a series of military leaders that carry out Visari’s will on both Vekta and Helghan. Generals Joseph Lente and Armin Metrac are the leaders of the Helghast invasion of Vekta during the first game and Liberation, with the latter having stolen experimental nukes from the ISA. Metrac’s second-in-command, Colonel Tendon Cobar, is a complete psychopath that does not even try to hide that he relishes in killing anyone in his way. When the ISA invade Helghan, Visari gives the defense of the city to Colonel Mael Radec, a ruthless tactical genius and easily one of the most popular characters of the series. During the third game, Admiral Orlock and Chairman Jorhan Brimve Stahl are the foremost threat, though they often bicker amongst themselves and Stahl has many secrets tucked away for his own use. 30 years later, Visari’s daughter, Hera, takes up the role as Chancellor, representing the remnants of her people on Vekta and genuinely wanting peace with the Vektans, but Vladko Tyran and his Black Hand terrorist group undermines those efforts in order to bring about another war.
The games play like your typical FPS, with plenty of guns available, though there a number of unique guns that stand out against the rest. A cover mechanic is also used to provide safety during fire fights though the enemies also use this to their advantages, though the different grenade types can be used to flush them out. Each of the levels are unique and sprawling, hiding a number of secrets and collectibles for those that look hard enough. The gameplay is can provide plenty of challenge with its legions of enemy soldiers of all kinds, so strategic thinking is what will carry the player through to the end. Shadow Fall introduces the OWL Drone, Kellan’s robotic drone that’s capable of several functions, such as attacking enemies, providing a shield, or acting as a biplane to cross gaps. Each installment adds something new to the formula and keeps the series fresh.
Story-wise, the first game and Liberation take place during the invasion of Vekta, with Killzone 2‘s focus being the retaliatory invasion of Helghan. Killzone 3 begins immediately after the ending of the second where EVERYTHING went wrong, forcing the ISA to try and escape Helghan. The PS Vita spinoff, Mercenary, reverts back to shortly after the ending of the first game and follows events up to the third game, following the exploits of Arran Danner and his mercenary company taking on contracts from both the ISA and the Helghast. Shadow Fall is currently the most recent release in the series and still leaves plenty open for future installments to explore. Currently, Guerrilla is working on their latest game, Horizon: Zero Dawn, a beautiful post-apocalyptic adventure game.
Killzone can be considered one of the killer apps for the Playstation. While the first game was a bit of a misstep due to the marketing, the second game delivered on all expectations and has only continued to improve with each installment. After Horizon: Zero Dawn releases, it can be assumed that Guerrilla will begin work on the next game in the series. If a series of strong FPS games with gorgeous visuals, exciting gameplay, intriguing stories, and wonderful performances by the Helghast sounds like a good time, then dive right in to this wonderful PS exclusive.