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Killzone Mercenary photo
Killzone Mercenary

Killzone: Mercenary open beta kicks off August 20

The history of these days will be written in blood
Aug 18
// Kyle MacGregor
The Killzone: Mercenary open beta will be making planetfall next week. PlayStation Plus subscribers will have the first shot at the title's multiplayer on August 20.   Everyone else will have to wait until August 27 for ...
Killzone Vita multiplayer photo
Killzone Vita multiplayer

Killzone Vita's multiplayer is poisonous and I love it

Merce-nary a concern
Aug 01
// Steven Hansen
I initially scoffed towards every bit of this explanation of Killzone: Mercenary's multiplayer systems. I don't much care for multiplayer, so why should I care that offline singleplayer progress yields weapons and stats that...

Sign-up for the Killzone: Mercenary multiplayer beta

Best looking FPS on the Vita
Jul 13
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Looking forward to Killzone: Mercenary? Then go sign up for the multiplayer closed beta! You have until 2:00PM PDT on July 17 to sign up, and if chosen you'll be sent an email with directions on how to get into the beta. I've...

Killzone: Shadow Fall gets pre-order bonuses

Because of COURSE it does!
Jul 11
// Jim Sterling
New generation, old pre-order culture! Guerrilla Games has unveiled the bonus items you can gather into your anus when you pre-order Killzone: Shadow Fall for the Playing Stations Four. Let's list what they are in a list for ...
Killzone PS4 actors photo
Killzone PS4 actors

Killzone: Shadow Fall goes Hollywood with actor reveals

Well, they're no Brian Cox
Jul 09
// Steven Hansen
Killzone: Shadow Fall is getting some television thespians to abet its story, according to a recent PlayStation Blog post. Jamie Gray Hyder of Trueblood will be playing Helghast intelligence officer Echo, a foil to Shadow Fal...

Killzone: Mercenary pleases me in gameplay demo video

Less swipe, more choice
Jun 20
// Jim Sterling
One of my biggest concerns with Killzone: Mercenary was that we'd be made to swipe across the touch screen for every melee attack. Breaking the way one holds a PS Vita for shooter games in order to drag a finger along the ce...

Sony details PS4's promising interface

Download games in pieces
Jun 19
// Jim Sterling
Sony's launched a new video promoting the PlayStation 4's interface, specifically showing off the ability to pause one's game to check out shared videos and the PlayStation Store. You can hold your game, go start a download,...

Enjoy this 21-minute Killzone: Shadow Fall presentation

Shooting with the bang bangs
Jun 17
// Jim Sterling
Sony's popped a 21-minute demo walkthrough of Killzone: Shadow Fall for your saucy delight, hot from the bowels of E3. The gameplay section is taken from that seen during the original PlayStation 4 reveal, with the Helghast ...

Killzone: Shadow Fall looks like a strong launch title

Jun 11 // Brett Makedonski
A host of gadgets are available at all times to help make the conquest a bit easier. The likes of a zip line and shield are blended into a menu that overlays the middle of the screen. This is where the game's (optional) TouchPad integration comes into play. When you're properly lined-up to use the gadget that you want, you can swipe in the assigned direction to use it. The only problem? It's completely shoehorned in. By the time you're in the right position to use the TouchPad, all you need to do is hit L1. Not only is using the TouchPad more time consuming, but it's pretty awkward. Maybe that will improve as users are increasingly familiar with the console, but it feels really pointless right now. One of the developers told me that there would be an additional use during multiplayer, but couldn't say what it was. The other takeaway from the demo was that it was fairly difficult. A run-and-gun approach certainly won't suffice. Particular care needs to be taken to constantly minimize the number of enemies that show up, and to dispose of them while utilizing the environments as best as possible. It's nice that it's not just another mindless shooter. My approximately 30-minute demo with Killzone: Shadow Fall couldn't have gone any better. It looks like it's going to be a serious launch title that makes people want to upgrade their consoles. Hopefully the finished product is as solid as the demo segment. If so, it'll be a great indication of things to come.
Killzone Preview photo
Here's one reason to get excited about the PS4
One of the titles that Sony's putting on a pedestal for the PlayStation 4 launch is Killzone: Shadow Fall. With good reason too. Shadow Fall is shaping up to be the type of game that is actually worthy of ushering in a n...

Killzone photo

Killzone looks just gorgeous on PlayStation 4 and PS Vita

The grim future sure is looking bright
Jun 10
// Kyle MacGregor
When  it comes to first-perosn shooters, the Killzone series is my jam. And that doesn't look to be changing anytime soon. Sony unveiled a pair of impressive new trailers for Guerrilla Games' latest efforts at their E3 ...

Killzone 4 dev: PS4 'easiest platform to develop for'

I'm actually excited for a Killzone game for once
May 30
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Killzone 4 is the flagship first-person shooter for the PlayStation 4, and this latest promotional trailer features some of the developers behind the game talking up the power of Sony's new console. The team talks about how ...

Killzone: Mercenary is the FPS the Vita has been needing

May 20 // Hamza CTZ Aziz
Killzone: Mercenary (PlayStation Vita)Developer: Guerrilla CambridgePublisher: Sony Computer EntertainmentRelease: September 4, 2013 (EU) / September 10, 2013 (US)  Right off the bat, I just have to say Mercenary looks gorgeous. There's a ton of detail in the levels, and everything looks great running on the handheld. The controls are pretty exceptional as well, offering a nice mix of touch and button inputs. The touch controls are fairly minimal, such as swiping the main screen in certain ways to perform a melee, touching enemies to launch missiles at them, or selecting weapons like your grenade. Double tapping the rear touchpad also lets you sprint, but you can simply press one of the front buttons to pull off the same thing. Single-player has you assuming the role of a mercenary who's working both sides of the conflict between the ISA and Helghast. While that initially sounds cool, it's not like you're given the option of choice. There's a set story in place, and you'll be merely hopping between the two sides at certain points as you progress. [embed]253452:48694:0[/embed] The demo Guerrilla showed off dropped me halfway into the story, where you've gotten caught up between the two conflicting sides and have to escort some kid who's important to both the opposing forces. It was an escort mission, but it didn't appear like you had to protect the kid at all as the enemies were pretty focused on me. That's a good thing, as the kid was on my ass the whole time and not really trying to hide behind cover, which was pretty silly given all the bullets flying around. Plus, the AI didn't seem that bright either. On the multiplayer side, Mercenary will allow up to eight players to fight it out over Wi-Fi in deathmatch, team deathmatch, and Warzone matches. Multiplayer also features a new Valor Card system where you can collect cards from another player's corpse. These cards are tied into the ranking and money system of the game, so you'll definitely want to be collecting them to stay ahead of other players. Single-player and multiplayer share a joint bank account too, and any money earned will go towards your being able to purchase new weaponry in multiplayer. It all looks pretty promising, but the sour taste left in my mouth from other shooters leaves me hesitant. I'm sure others feel the same way, so I asked Laura Dilloway, environment artist on Mercenary, what they're doing to reassure fans. "We worked with Guerrilla Amsterdam and their games are exceptionally high standard, so they wouldn't let us put anything out there that was sub-par," Laura told me. "So if you love the Killzone games previously then I think you'll love this one. "We've always set out to make the definitive first-person shooter on a handheld, that's always been our aim. We're not going to let anything go out unless we're 100% happy with it. Hopefully we have produced something people will enjoy." Laura also told me that the campaign will last around seven to nine hours spread over nine different levels. On top of that, there are three difficulty levels and of course all the multiplayer offerings. It's definitely a meaty package, and with this one being developed by a studio that has some experience with the franchise for a change, I have way more faith that Mercenary can deliver.
Killzone: Mercenary photo
A good first-person shooter on the Vita?
The PlayStation Vita is a great system with a slowly increasing library of great titles. The exception being in the first-person shooter genre, that is. You'd think that after one of these big game companies made a handheld w...

Killzone: Shadow Fall photo
Killzone: Shadow Fall

Guerrilla on making sure the Killzone: SF reveal was real

Behind the Shadow Fall demonstration
Apr 29
// Jordan Devore
Has Guerrilla Games recovered from the infamous Killzone 2 target render and its inability to live up to those graphics with the finished product? Can the studio ever? Gamers with a grudge never seem to forget. With...
DualShock 4 photo
DualShock 4

Developers told Sony to change DualShock 4 controller

By game developers, for game developers
Apr 08
// Allistair Pinsof
Sony put the future of the DualShock 4 in the hands of developers, who dictated changes to the longstanding controller's form and feel. Guerrilla Games (Killzone) and Evolution Studios (DriveClub), in an interview with Edge, ...
Killzone Mercenary photo
Killzone Mercenary

Get a deeper look at Killzone Mercenary for the Vita

Developer interview
Mar 08
// Chris Carter
Killzone Mercenary is on the way for the PlayStation Vita, and will drop on September 17. But for the time being, Sony has given us a better look at what the game has in store in the above video, specifically showcasing a lo...
Killzone Jimmy Fallon photo
Killzone Jimmy Fallon

Killzone: Shadow Fall humiliates Jimmy Fallon

Feb 22
// Jim Sterling
Well, at least we know the Killzone: Shadow Fall demo is playable, and wasn't just some pre-cooked video. How do we know that? Because Jimmy Fallon tried to play it, and gave us a very different version of what we saw Wednes...
PS4 launch lineup photo
PS4 launch lineup

Watch Dogs & Killzone are launch titles, maybe DriveClub

BREAKING: PS4 may launch without a Dynasty Warriors title
Feb 21
// Allistair Pinsof
Watch Dogs and Killzone: Shadow Fall are now official launch titles for PS4. While DriveClub is mentioned as a launch title on a developer's LinkedIn page, it was called a "launch window" title at a recent roundtable (when as...
PS4 game gallery photo
PS4 game gallery

A visual recap of the first PlayStation 4 games announced

A high-res look at the current PS4 software line-up
Feb 20
// Jordan Devore
You might have seen our recap of what was announced during the PlayStation 4 event already, if you weren't watching it unfold with us live. This video is Sony's recap of the next-gen software revealed thus far and it's great...

Killzone: Shadow Fall announced for PS4!

Feb 20 // Jim Sterling
Check out ALL the PlayStation 4 coverage from today's event here. Console specs revealed, new controller detailed, and tons of games announced!
Killzone: Shadow Fall photo
PlayStation 4 takes us back to Vekta
Killzone: Shadow Fall has been announced! Guerrilla Games advances the story to a Berlin-inspired setting, separating two rival factions on Planet Vekta by a gigantic wall.  A very gorgeous trailer set up the PS4 exclus...

PlayStation 4 launch vs. reality: Don't believe the hype

Feb 20 // Allistair Pinsof
PlayStation - 1994 [embed]246023:47080:0[/embed] See also: Manta Ray tech demo PC games at the time: [embed]246023:47081:0[/embed] See also: System Shock What PSX launch games actually looked like: [embed]246023:47084:0[/embed] See also: Battle Arena Toshinden What history can teach us: In the mid-'90s, console and PC hardware were constantly leap-frogging each other, which is perfectly evidenced in the above comparison. Driving and fighting games will always look the best, due to smaller environments, less models, and A.I. to fiddle with. Nevertheless, Ridge Racer looks a great deal cleaner and smoother than Need for Speed on PC (a game used for PC bragging rights at the time.) System Shock never came to PS, but I have no doubt that it could have handled it, considering it ran the brilliant-looking (for the time) Disruptor. All this would soon change with the arrival of Quake and 3D graphics cards. I can't fault the tech demos for the PS too much, since they focused on very small environments and singular detailed models. The polygonal models of Vagrant Story, Dino Crisis, and Metal Gear Solid would reach similar heights in time, but the launch titles were a good way off from that level of visual tour de force. This would be the last time that a system launch would outshine contemporary PC titles to such a great degree. PlayStation 2 - 1999 [embed]246023:47065:0[/embed] See also: Final Fantasy VIII tech demo PC games at the time: [embed]246023:47067:0[/embed] See also: Grim Fandango What PS2 launch games actually looked like: [embed]246023:47069:0[/embed] See also: Dynasty Warriors 2 What history can teach us: It was incredible to see the dance hall scene between Final Fantasy VIII's Squall and Rinoa realized in real-time 3D, before even watching it as a pre-rendered scene on the PlayStation, the same year. Square would make good on the tech demo with Final Fantasy X, three years later. The launch titles told a different story. Comparing the dated models and lighting of PS2's launch titles to what was happening on PC at the time, with the Quake 3 and Unreal engine, it really hits home how manipulative and false these tech demos can be. Sure, that's what a game with an old man's face would look like but in what game would that even exist? As detailed as MGS2 was, Max Payne looked comparable (dare I say, better) on PC. PC had the PS2 beat out the gate and continued to pummel Sony's hardware, which never did offer the facial detail of those early tech demos. PlayStation 3 - 2005 [embed]246023:47071:0[/embed] See also: Killzone 2 trailer PC games at the time: [embed]246023:47074:0[/embed] See also: Battlefield 2 What PS3 launch games actually looked like: [embed]246023:47076:0[/embed] See also: Madden NFL 07 What history can teach us: Unlike previous tech demos, Sony cooked up a much more accurate batch of tech demos -- if not in performance, at least in representing something that actually resembles games. The target render of Killzone 2 was presented as in-game footage at the time, so I'm still unsure of how to judge it in reflection. For the first time since the original PlayStation, launch titles compared fairly well with PC. I still can't decide if Doom 3 or Resistance looks better; though, I have my doubts that a PS2 can handle the scale of a max-player-count Battlefield 2 match, upon release. We never did get games that looked as good as the Final Fantasy VII and Killzone 2 tech demos, however. PlayStation 4 - 2013 [embed]246023:47086:0[/embed] See also: Unreal Engine 4 demo PC games at the time: [embed]246023:47087:0[/embed] See also: Max Payne 3 What history can teach us: At this point, there is a common link among these that we should recognize: launch titles never look as good as the initial tech demos, but usually look slightly better than the best PC games from the year before. With hardware specs comparable to a high-end PC, we have no reason to believe the PS4 will be any different. So, dream about playing Crysis 3 and Max Payne 3 with all the bells and whistles enabled, and recognize those Unreal 4 and Square tech demos for what they are: a dream that likely won't be realized until next-next-gen console rumors start appearing on Destructoid's homepage. Sorry, but that's reality for you. [Pug image courtesy of Greenpolis]
PS4 tech demos photo
What history can tell us about PS4's launch titles
A new console generation. A new batch of tech demos that mislead consumer expectations. As perfectly evidenced by Gearbox's recent Aliens demo, savvy game enthusiasts don't take kindly to developers promising one thing and de...

Moments in Presidential history: Cats, mechs, and burgers

Feb 18 // Allistair Pinsof
1988 - President Ronnie rewards good work with fast food (Bad Dudes) Why reward military service with a historic statue, when you can give two hardworking members of the Secret Service a burger instead? This is the difference between the Japanese and English ending of Bad Dudes; it's also the difference between a good and a great president. 1993 - President Clinton is on fire (NBA Jam) There are many critics who are quick to point out Clinton's lackluster sax playing -- let's just say he's no Kenny G; man, does that guy know how to suck and blow -- and his inability to keep booty calls on the DL, but no one can deny his ability to shoot some hoops in NBA Jam. 1998 - President Richardson puts "Near-humans" in their place (Fallout 2) Being president in the 2020s isn't easy, especially when there are asshole mutants with massive Gatling guns roaming the country. In such dark and dry times, America needs a president that isn't afraid to commit acts of genocide and nuclear warfare which is why President Richardson -- wooden, emotionless face and all -- continues to inspire. [embed]245775:47021:0[/embed] 2001 - President Mr. President shows that inaction is sometimes the best action (Sonic Adventures 2) In the face of great tumult and terrorism, Mr. President decides to relax in his limo and let a little blue hedgehog do the heavy lifting. If only our current president could learn a thing or two from him. [embed]245775:47020:0[/embed] 2004 - President Visari gives a rousing speech (Killzone) Visari doesn't appear in the first Killzone, but his presence in the game's introductory cinematic lingers on. Such is the power of a great presidential speech that inspires the people to rise up and senselessly murder. [embed]245775:47023:0[/embed] 2004 - President Wilson takes matters into his own hands (Metal Wolf Chaos) So many Presidents enter office complaining about the problems that the past president left, only to then turn around and burden the next president with their own unfinished issues. Well, Wilson pilots a freaking mech. So he's not going to take shit from either end. He's going to handle it and give foreign adversaries his "flame of justice." [embed]245775:47022:0[/embed] 2008 - President Ackerman works with canine allies toward common goal (Command & Conquer 3) In a progressive stance, Ackerman moves the national dialog from being "for or against illegal immigration" to "for or against attack dogs handling illegal immigration." Resourceful, fair, and firm. 2009 - President Cat shows that great presidents shouldn't be labeled by species (Sukeban Shachou Rena) Only in Japan can the American dream be truly realized.
The Greatest Presidents photo
On President's Day, it's our duty as bloggers to supply the unwashed, malnourished Kmart-lovin' masses of America with reminders of awesome, fictional Presidents in games. I mean, it's not like I get to take the day off, so w...


GTA V delay, Playstation 4 hints & New PS Vita games!

The Destructoid Show takes you on a sexy date
Feb 01
// Max Scoville
If you missed today's live Destructoid Show, you missed all the important news ever, and there's no way possible that you were properly informed by any other outlet because our journalistic integrity and timeliness is unmatch...

Killzone: Mercernary: A real Vita FPS finally arrives

Jan 31 // Dale North
Killzone: Mercenary (PlayStation Vita)Developer: Guerrilla CambridgePublisher: SCEARelease: September 17, 2013 Wait, mercenary? Yep. As the name of the game clearly states, this Killzone outing is all about the cash and the mission. Alliances lie where the money is. You play as ex-soldier Arran Danner, and as a for-hire badass in a time and place where there's a lot of surreptitious stuff going on, you've got plenty of prime work available. Expect to aid the Helghast and ISA during the course of this game. The focus is so heavy on money that every single thing you do has a monetary value assigned to it. Kill a baddie and a number instantly appears, telling you how much is being added to your account balance. Kill in fancier ways (headshots, melee) and see that number increase. The better you play, the more you'll earn. Even reaching checkpoints and knocking out smaller mission objectives dumps more into your account.  What's neat is that all of the money goes into one account, accessible in both single- and multiplayer modes. You can buy the biggest and best gear in both modes, and they'll all be available for use in both. The Van-Guard weapons system has some pretty nifty things to spend your money on, too. One of the options, the Iron Cannon, lets you call in a beam from orbit, letting you disintegrate enemies with a press of a button. Another, Mantis engine, lets you scout remotely to kill. Despite the change in tone, this is a true Killzone game on a handheld. It looks and feels just like a Killzone title, running off a Vita-ized Killzone 3 engine. Compromises? I don't see them. When you finally witness this game running for yourself, I'm certain you'll be wowed. From both live gameplay and in example footage of various graphical effects, using everything from HDR to dynamic lights to volumetric fog, it's clear that Guerrilla Cambridge is not jacking around when it comes to showing off what a high-quality Vita game can look like. There's no one out there that is going to say that this doesn't look good. And in keeping with the Killzone-ness of it all, Mercenary is even set in the time of previous games. Series fans will find themselves in familiar situations, though the view will be quite different in playing as a gun for hire. The liberation of Vetka? You're there. You'll also play a part in the invasion of Helghan during the time of Killzone 2. I played a bit of the single-player mission, which we're told will last some 6-8 hours in total. My little piece of the action had me taking point on a mercenary mission called Lightning Strike, where it was my job to take control of massive arc cannons that were to be used to shoot an unsuspecting fleet out of the sky. It was a hacking mission -- you know the kind. Run here, take out a wave, defend a point until the super futuristic space computer that should be fast but isn't has time to hack something, and then rinse and repeat. Heavy defense from really solid AI enemies kept things interesting. Not necessarily groundbreaking stuff, but fun, and definitely good for showcasing gameplay that felt exactly like what I would be doing in a console Killzone.  Playing felt totally natural after I got used to the range of movement of the Vita's analog sticks. With its console-ish looks and straight-up DualShock control, after getting into the zone, I kind of forgot that I was playing a handheld game. They didn't shrink or lessen the experience, but instead perfectly translated it to something that just happens to be a more portable way of playing Killzone. Hats off to them for this. There are some new Vita-ish aspects that have been added to the formula -- Sony won't let developers get away without at least some swiping. And that's exactly what you'll get in Mercenaries: touch input to do everything from throwing grenades to switching weapons. The rear touch panel will let you do things like zoom your sniper rifle in. The Brutal Melee system lets you perform attacks with a swipe, too. After pressing the triangle button in close range, time slows down, and the game prompts you to swipe your finger a certain direction to kick off an animation of a head twisting or throat slitting. The input seemed sluggish, and I found myself frantically swiping everywhere to make sure my melee connected, sometimes getting crazy enough to find my fingers hitting the right analog stick and face buttons. It needs some fine tuning, but at least it looks neat. It also has an unintended bonus as it gives you a break when the action gets heated; it felt like no other enemies could hurt me while in the process of a melee attack. Another Vita-ism might be less welcome, though I didn't mind it. A touchscreen hacking puzzle ended up surprising me after finally hacking both stations and getting to the heavily guarded main terminal. Several hexagons with certain triangle segments missing had me poking at a selection of other hexagons on the side of the screens that could be a match. A countdown timer kept the pressure on as frantically I tried to match shapes. Again, I don't mind these kind of hacking mini-games, but others looking for pure FPS action might gripe.  I didn't get as much time with Mercenary's multiplayer, but it's clear even from my limited look that FPS fans will dig this. This is big game multiplayer in a portable package. Four-on-four deathmatches in tight caves kept things hot, and drops to be used in the previously mentioned Van-Guard system turned the heat up even higher. New to the MP system are Valor cards. Kill someone and they'll drop a card, which represents their their class and rank. You'll want to collect them all as they're worth money, and there are also added bonuses to hoarding them. Expect three modes and six maps for Mercenary's multiplayer in the end. Guerrilla says that it will be fully supported by, with leaderboard updates, heat maps and the like. Multplayer moved at a nice clip, with a framerate that seemed to be suitably smooth. The same was true for most of the single-player mission I tried, though there were a couple of instances in tight quarters where a higher enemy count had rates dropping a bit. Some touchscreen commands seemed to lag a bit behind (get that grenade out now!), but nothing too serious.  Hopefully this preview will hold you over as we have a really long wait until release: September 2013. And Killzone: Mercenaries was impressive enough that we'll actually feel the need to gripe about this wait. It's close-to-console looks really took me by surprise -- seeing gameplay visuals displayed on a television didn't look much different from a PS3.  For those worried about some of the Vita-specific features mentioned above, don't. Aside from the melee attacks, which really aren't that big of a deal, and whatever other hacking mini-games that may pop up, this is a proper Killzone title with classic FPS control. Killzone: Mercenary looks fantastic and feels natural, has a sizable single-player mission and solid multiplayer, and isn't compromised or rushed in any way. That's all we've been wanting. Finally.
Killzone Vita photo
Vita's showcase shooter
You want a first-person shooter on your Vita, right? Me too. Those dual analog sticks have been calling my name since the system's release, but we've got nothing to use them with. And no, that other game doesn't count. Killzo...

Sympathy for the Helghast: Killzone's villain is too good

Jan 31 // Jim Sterling
The biggest issue with the Helghast is that, in reality, they really aren't the bad guys. When you delve into the game's backstory, taking in some of the canon that's not necessarily evident in the games, it's impossible not to sympathize with the so-called "Space Nazis." The Helghast are descended from humans once united under the banner of the Helghan Corporation. The corporation was a huge conglomerate, holding a practical monopoly over a number of precious resources. The company's continued success made the ruling body of Earth -- the UCN -- paranoid. It began to impose regulations and taxes in an effort to undermine Helghan's economic influence for no other reason than to protect itself from a perceived threat. However, when Helghan stuck to its guns and declared itself independent, the UCN attacked, trying to drive the corporation away from its resource-rich planets. Long story short, the UCN eventually succeeded in driving the Helghan corporation back to the eponymously named planet Helghan, where living conditions are practically inhospitable, and settled its own military -- the ISA -- on a verdant and beautiful Vekta. While life on Helghan is already harsh, UCN embargoes and restrictions on the planet make things even harder, and its citizens, undergoing rapid genetic changes, become the Helghast -- hateful, angry, and wishing to take back what they felt was stolen from them.  Now, there are shades of grey in the story, with the Helghan Corporation certainly able to have avoided certain calamities had it not been so proud, but the bottom line is that the Helghast aren't entirely terrible and the self-serving UCN, the "good guys" of the story, were just as bad. Earth's ruling body began military action on the basis of fear, and was nothing but tyrannical in victory, sending the future Helghast to a practical death planet and doing all it can to stop them ever getting a modicum of success again. The parallels between the Helghast and Germany pre-World War II are intentional, but while Adolf Hitler demonstrated evil far outweighing any righteousness in Germany's anger, the same cannot be said for Killzone's fictional counterparts.   This is not to say a villain can't be sympathetic. In fact, an antagonist with a cause, one that may even be right, can make for some compelling stuff. Solidus Snake of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty is a fantastic example of a villain who isn't entirely wrong. A patriot at heart, Solidus' ultimate goal was overthrowing a sinister organization controlling the world in secret. He was a villain, however, because his methods were morally bankrupt. He was a tyrant who'd used child soldiers in war, and wouldn't balk at murder and terrorism if it got him what he wanted. At heart, he had a sympathetic nobility about him, but he chose to end his life as an irredeemable monster. Without these dark elements to his character, Solidus would be a villain in name only, an alleged bad guy who we were stopping for no decent reason.  The trouble with Killzone is Guerrilla, so enamored with the Helghast, never really did anything to demonstrate why we should hate them. They were brutal fighters, they would torture enemy soldiers, and they seemed incapable of mercy in a war situation -- but it was a war situation, and having ISA soldiers vocalize their disgust with the Helghast, even as they rolled into Helghan's city streets with their overwhelming arsenal of tanks and guns, seemed a desperate bid to make us believe the protagonists were worth rooting for. During the course of Killzone 2, our heroes would regularly tell us how much we hate the Helghast, but I only ever received baseless words to back this up. I never believed it. Why do I hate them? I'm invading their home in retaliation for a war they waged to reclaim Vekta -- and lost. This invasion is unwarranted, and if anything, I think I'm on the bad guys' side.  This would be great if it ever came up in the narrative, but it doesn't. Our heroes love this war, sincerely believe the Helghast are monsters, and the story never presents them as anything but correct. In fact, when the ISA are ordered to pull back, our heroes are furious, only questioning orders when those orders run contrary to the thirst for more dead Helghast. Sgt. Rico, an overwhelmingly racist soldier with a burning hatred for the opposition, is painted in a heroic light, despite displaying nothing more than lust for dead bodies and jeopardizing his squadmates with his blind anger. Again, this would have made for some fantastic narrative implications, but it's not addressed. Rico's murder of Scolar Visari is swept under the rug almost as soon as it's done, and Rico suffers no consequences for committing what is, undoubtedly, a war crime.  In many ways, Killzone reminds me of the movie version of Starship Troopers, insofar as the "heroes" of the stories are gung-ho military jingoists conditioned to believe the bad guys must be destroyed on nothing but hearsay. However, where this was an intentional aspect of Starship Troopers, a satire of the adapted novel's pro-military views, Killzone presents the same premise with a totally straight face, trying to condition us as much as the ISA. It's not washed with me, though. I don't believe the Helghast deserve what the game makes us do to them, no matter how many times I'm merely told they do.  The playable heroes throughout the series -- notably Jan Templar and Thomas Sevchenko -- don't have much of a personality, sticking rigidly to strict professional soldier archetypes. This is not necessarily bad in and of itself, but the less personality the ISA has, the more identifiable the Helghast become. In ISA cutscenes, we have soldiers talking about soldier things with soldier voices. In Helghast cutscenes, we have Brian Cox, Malcolm McDowell, Sean Pertwee, and Ray Winston putting in fantastic vocal performances and having fun with larger-than-life characters. The Helghast have a strong visual presence. The ISA look like generic grunts. The Helghast have hilarious London accents. The ISA are just some dudes. The Helghast have the coolest weapons. The ISA have rifles. It's clear Guerrilla loves the Helghast as much as I do, and that's awesome, but when you craft a villain with shades of grey, you can't just focus on the bad guys at the expense of the heroes. You have two sides with morally dubious motivations, one of them's been fleshed out with a richness of personality and history, while the other has not. It's going to be so much easier to side with the former than the latter, which at this current point in time has practically no redeeming quality.  It says a lot that the thing I'm most looking forward to with Killzone Mercenary is the ability to pick a side, so I can finally feel like I'm fighting the right war. With the Helghast getting all the best (read: only) characters, the coolest-looking gear, and the better reason for warring, I am wholly on its side, and I'm itching to pick up the PS Vita release and start making up for all the Helghast I've unjustly killed over the course of three console games.  The Helghast are easily among my favorite videogame villains, and Guerrilla's work on them is nothing short of spectacular. They're a fine example, though, of what happens when a developer is too successful in crafting an antagonist, to the point where they're too likable in contrast to an underdeveloped hero. The Helghast are brilliant, cool, and sympathetic ... and I have no reason to view them as anything but the good guys. [Header image: GamePro #262]
Helghast good, ISA bad photo
A great baddie makes for a great story ... unless it makes the good guys look bad!
Regular readers will know by now that I'm quite a big fan of the Killzone series. Its focus on dirty, hard science fiction and heavy controls makes for a shooter unlike its peers in the big-budget market, while its multiplaye...


Killzone: Mercenary dated for Vita: September 17, 2013

Vita FPS action this fall
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// Dale North
You want a FPS for Vita? It's coming... eventually. Guerrilla Games announced an official North American date for Killzone: Mercenary last night at a press event: September 17, 2013. Yep, that's quite a wait. If it makes...
Killzone photo

First look at Killzone Mercenary for Vita: OMG WINGSUITS

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// Kyle MacGregor
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Escape from Helghan with Killzone: Intercept fan film

From the creators of Beyond Black Mesa...
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// Kyle MacGregor
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Killzone HD and Trilogy out now, plus Double XP Weekend

Helghan belongs to the Helghast!
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Original Killzone assets were nearly lost in a shoebox

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Killzone Trilogy announced, contains Killzone HD

Guerrilla's red-eyed FPS getting a boxset
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// Jim Sterling
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