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Killzone 3 Interview

with Guerrilla Games' Hermen Hulst

By Matt Cabral, 1/5/2011

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It seems like only yesterday we were debating the validity of Killzone 2‘s infamous E3 2005 teaser trailer. Yet, here we are about to face the Helghast all over again in the sci-fi shooter series’ fourth (if you count the PSP’s Killzone: Liberation) outing. With bigger guns, badder enemies, and new mechanics--such as teeth-shattering melee moves and the ability to carry more Helghast-silencing firepower--KZ3 may finally give Sony’s console a Halo-like heavyweight in the competitive FPS market. We recently sat down with Guerrilla Games’ co-founder and managing director, Hermen Hulst--who’s worked on all previous KZ titles--to find out what seasoned fans and new recruits can expect from the ISA’s latest bout with the sinister, red-eyed enemies of planet Helghan.

AtomicGamer: Killzone 2 was already a pretty big technical achievement for the PS3. Are you pushing the hardware even further for Killzone 3?

Hermen Hulst: The intention at the outset was to kind of lock the technology and focus on the gameplay variety and diversity. But I’m afraid we’re not the kind of team that’s satisfied with that. To give you an example, we loaded, just for the hell of it, a Killzone 2 level into the Killzone 3 engine, and the graphics processor unit was running at about fifty percent; this means there’s forty to fifty percent extra performance, graphically, which leads to a lot more detail on the screen, more and bigger effects, larger maps...our ice level map is about ten times the average Killzone 2 map size. It’s a much bigger game in every aspect.

AG: How about in terms of gameplay? Any significant changes in Killzone 3 over the previous entries, things you guys have added or refined?

HH: Lots of new things in there. Brutal melees are now a core mechanic…a mechanic that’s available throughout the entire game. It’s really cool in the sense that it scans the environment…it’s contextually aware…and it triggers a detailed, beautiful melee kill animation. You can run and slide into cover, vault over cover. All these things combined yield a great sense of immersion. You can also hold three weapons now instead of two, and we’re adding a number of new massive weapons. We’ve added that extra slot so you can hold onto a bigger weapon and use it when appropriate.

AG: Any specific flaws in Killzone 2 that you wanted to be sure to address in this sequel?

HH: We have this philosophy…we start with the things that weren’t so great in the previous game. In I think one of those things was the close combat. We tried to improve it, and it really developed into a system that we’re now very happy with…the close combat, the brutal melees. And the things that worked really well, we try to push them so far that they’re out of reach for everyone else. In Killzone 3 that’s the scale and the brutality of the enemy…the way we try to portray them with graphical intensity, the amount of effects…we keep pushing that stuff. So we take the weak points and try to make them strong points, and take the strongest points and push them as far as we can. And we do that based on user feedback; we can scan the forums, we do pretty crazy analysis of older reviews, we scan every single post that’s been made on the forums for feedback on the multiplayer beta…it’s led to a lot of improvements. There were also some criticisms on the Killzone 2 controls that we‘ve addressed. Lag is gone. When you press a button, the reaction is right there on the screen.

AG: There’s so much competition out there in the FPS market. What do you think defines and separates the Killzone experience?

HH: If I was going to summarize it, it would probably be the fact that it’s a sci-fi experience that’s very much grounded in reality. Everything you do is recognizable, but we let you do things that you couldn’t do in a realistic Modern Warfare-type experience. You strap on exoskeletons, you fly on these Intruders, you take on these gigantic out-of-this-world things…it’s that combination of the experiences we know, but in the future, that opens up a wide range you don’t see in very many games.

AG: What can fans expect from the multiplayer experience?

HH: Again, we fixed the things that didn’t work really well before. So, we improved things like the party system and the matchmaking system. We also added some great innovations like a brand new story mode called Operations Mode; it’s an objective, story-driven mode where the winner gets to star in their own cutscene; you have two factions, the ISA and Helghast, and each faction sees the story being told through cutscenes in their own way; if you win, your character features in those cutscenes, so it’s a great reward system. We’ve also gone berserk with the number of awards…we’ve improved the way they’re distributed throughout the game.

AG: Every FPS seems to have a live-as-long-as-you can mode, like Gears’ Horde mode. Is that something you guys ever considered for Killzone 3

HH: Not so much. I mean, we consider many things, but we kind of pick the things, like this Operations Mode, where we can tie it into the single player experience. So it’s more cinematic, more story-driven.

AG: Do you ever go back and take a look at the original Killzone? Does the original still hold any inspiration for the franchise?

HH: All the time. It’s funny when you develop a franchise that consists of multiple iterations…you always wonder sort of where the inspiration comes from. Originally, it was books and movies and real life, the great events of the 20th century, European wars; then after a while you take your inspiration from within the franchise. The lean- and-peek that we introduced in Killzone 2, for example, we kind of had explored in Killzone: Liberation. And the massive mount weapons…we had actually used in Killzone. Additionally, the larger, open space areas of Killzone weren’t there so much in Killzone 2, but in Killzone 3 they come back.

Thanks to Mr. Hulst for briefing us on our next encounter with the Helghast. We look forward to introducing the butt of our M82 assault rifles to dumb alien faces when Killzone 3 arrives on February 22nd.



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