While the main focus at Sony’s E3 press conference was the unveiling of the PLAYSTATION 3 one game that slipped somewhat under the radar was Killzone:Liberation the follow up to the Sci-fi FPS Killzone. The game was immediately on our must play list and we were able to get hooked up with an interview with the Lead Designer and Game Director for the game.
GamingNexus: Can you introduce yourself and tell us what your role on the team is? How long have you been in the gaming industry and how you got started in the industry?
MdJ : My name is Mathijs de Jonge. I’m the Game Director and Lead Designer on Killzone: Liberation. I started as a 3D designer at a multimedia company called Lost Boys. After 2 years or so I joined their games division which eventually merged with 2 other Dutch companies into Guerrilla. This is my 7th game that I worked on from start to finish and it is definitely the one that I’m most proud of.
GamingNexus: Killzone: Liberation is quite a departure from the original Killzone on the PlayStation 2. Why did you decide to switch from a first-person shooter to an overhead shooter?
MdJ : We wanted to create a new experience within the Killzone Universe. Pulling out the camera to a third person perspective was the thing that we thought would change the experience most. So when we started working on this game this was the very first we tried. Then we decided to stick with it as it gave us a lot of inspiration for new mechanics and areas of focus such as improving the AI system.
GamingNexus: How does Killzone: Liberation tie in with the original PlayStation 2 game? Will it tie in with the upcoming PlayStation 3 game? Will completing the Liberation version unlock anything in the PS3 version or not?
MdJ : The story for Killzone: Liberation continues 2 months after the end of Killzone. The earth fleet has arrived and the Helghast troops have been scattered. But there is a new general, general Armin Metrac. He’s the fearsome commander of the troops in the south and he’s rapidly gaining ground and capturing cities. The player Jan Templar is send in to take him down.
Unfortunately I’m not allowed to say anything about Killzone for the PS3.
GamingNexus: Will people who did not play the PS2 game be lost in Killzone: Liberation is the game relatively self contained?
MdJ : Oh yes, certainly! The game is specifically designed for the PSP with handheld gaming in mind for Killzone fans as well as gamers that like to play action games.
Killzone: Liberation is very easy to pickup and play, but we’ve made sure that there are enough layers of dept in terms of mechanics for the more experienced gamers.
GamingNexus: So far most of the surroundings I've seen in the game looks fairly similar, will there be a lot of variety in the finished product? How many different environments do you expect to see in the final product?
MdJ : Killzone: Liberation is all about variation; there are many game-play mechanics, different game modes, unlockable assets, new weapons, multiplayer characters and of course different environments as well. We have 12 very different surroundings in the game. And we’ve spent a lot of time making these as dynamic and alive as possible which helps the immersion.
GamingNexus: Are there vehicles that you can use in Killzone: Liberation?
MdJ : Yes, there are three vehicles the player can use, a tank, a hovercraft and a jetpack. Driving around in the tank is a lot of fun. Especially when you crush barriers and squash some enemies in the process. The Hovercraft is of course amphibious which means that you can travel over water and land. It also has a lot of firepower like the tank. The Jetpack is equipped with a high damage machine gun and is designed to hover over gaps in the landscapes. This allows the player to access areas that are normally out of reach.
The vehicle-based missions can also be played on-foot so the player is free to choose how to play the mission. The tank and hovercraft are also controllable in Co-op, where one player controls the vehicle and a primary weapons and the second player controls the secondary weapon.
GamingNexus: What kind of weapons are we looking at here? Will these be the same weapons we saw in the PS2 version and are you introducing anything new? How many weapons should we expect from this game?
MdJ : There are similar weapons such as the Helghast Assault Riffle but all have been specifically designed and tweaked to fit into this game. There are 10 very different weapons such as a shotgun, sniper rifle, rocket launcher and a crossbow with explosive bolts. At first the player can only access one weapon, by collecting Vektan money, he unlocks more weapons and weapon upgrades.
The player can not pickup weapons from dead enemies but has to enter Depots, where they can choose their weapons of preference. In Depots, the player can also replenish his health, stock grenades, etc.
GamingNexus: Are you able to move the camera around at any time or are we dealing with a fixed camera? Why did decide to go that route?
MdJ : The player can not directly control the camera. However we’ve designed the camera so that there is never a need or a desire for it. What happens is that as soon as an enemy approaches the player the camera will intelligently pan and zoom to frame the situation in the best possible way. This happens so subtlety that the player in most cases won’t even notice. We designed a camera system we call PICS, Pseudo-isometric Intelligent Camera System.
GamingNexus: With the new look some have compared Killzone: Liberation to the original Metal Gear Solid on the PS1. Is this a fair comparison or way off base?
MdJ : Well the comparison to the view is easily made, but the game itself is nothing like Metal Gear Solid. Early previews also stated that Killzone: Liberation would be a stealth game but that’s not the case, there is no stealth involved. It’s an action packed title filled with explosions and high-paced gameplay.
GamingNexus: How many levels are there in the game? Is there a particular level or feature about the game that you are particularly found of?
MdJ : There are 16 different single player Campaign missions that can also be played in Co-op.
We also created Challenge games in which the player can hone his skills and unlock abilities that he/she can use in the single player Campaign.
There are many things I like about Killzone: Liberation such as the high overall quality we achieved, but what I like most are the different mechanics that work really well together and deliver a different gaming experience each time you play.
GamingNexus would like to thank Mathijs for taking the time to answer our questions and Scott at Sony for helping to coordinate the interview.