Killzone 3’s Dark Soul

I’ve always been drawn to Guerrilla Games’ Killzone series. While I’m not the biggest fan of the military shooter (whether it’s set in a sci-fi universe or in the present day), there’s something compelling about Killzone that rustles up the team spirit in me as a single player.

Maybe it’s the dark soul of the game.

At a recent event in Chelsea, Hermen Hulst, Guerrilla’s game director, showed off the new science fiction thriller which hits stores in February. There was a lot to crow about – an impressive plastic gun designed by Guerrilla and a more perfected 3-D technology, which Hulst first unveiled to the public this summer on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

It wasn’t the gun or the 3-D that intrigued me most. I was most interested in gameplay and story. Earlier in the year, I’d seen the wicked, wild living winter waters level which the team unveiled at E3. The water seemed to have its own angry personality as it swirled and whipped and pooled. It was the most fascinating, fear-inspiring transmogrification of water since water was a character in BioShock.

With Hulst leading the way with the controller, I was taken through the land of Helghast where Rico, the tough protagonist, meets the Mawlr, a 250-foot high mech that’s wreaking havoc on the miserable world below. Dealing with it (along with enemies on the ground) gave me a God of War feeling. It’s David and Goliath, Guerrila Games style.

Hulst was also proud of the voice acting work, and I agreed with him. What wasn’t clear in the half hour I was shown was what a new writer has brought to the table in terms of depth and witty dialog.  The brilliance of the writing wasn’t immediately apparent, certainly not in the way that you say “Oscar-worthy!” when you view the first moments of Aaron Sorkin’s The Social Network. But maybe the brilliance of the writing is something that needs time to unfold as you play the game. Time will tell.

When handed the controller, I moved carefully through a level so as not to get killed. The artificial intelligence is Killzone is unforgiving, and you don’t ever want to die with other gamers leering nearby. It’s embarrassing. Slow and stealthy, I moved through, always with trepidation, but never dying. Enemies shot at me from above. Sometimes, they dove over me, making a graceful but evil human arc, still shooting. The speed with which I played was annoying to the Portuguese TV team that was waiting to play the game and to speak with Hulst.

It doesn’t matter.

The key is not simply to never let them see you sweat.

The key is to never die.

-Harold Goldberg


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