War is a horrific aspect of the world we live in. It’s been fought over everything, from land and power, to religion and political ideologies. War also throws up a lot of grey areas about who has legitimate reasons for instigating something which should be a last resort, and which side has the moral high ground. Those grey areas are exactly why the narrative in the Killzone series and the relationship between the warring factions should be praised for its representation of war.
As a player you are put into the boots of an ISA soldier, placed in a position to fight against the ruthless Helghast, who would love nothing more than to see Vekta and your faction succumb to them. After all they have red, glowy eyes. Have you ever known a good guy to have red, glowy eyes? Terminators have those eyes, not soldiers who have a good reason to fight. After all, this war was instigated by the Helghast with the invasion of Vekta, so you and your fellow soldiers have every right to defend their home. Plus the ISA logo has blue in it which means they’re good; everyone knows that.[drop]But, wait! Wasn’t Vekta originally colonised by the Helghan Corporation and its workers? Yes, it was. In fact it became home for the Helghan workers while they worked to mine the planet Helghan.
However, the ISA was sent to stop the growing power the Helghan Corporation was gaining, with their refusal to accept demands from Earth’s governing body for higher taxes serving as the tipping point. If you think about, it’s almost similar to the American Revolution, except in this case the revolutionaries were kicked off their main colony and eventually forced to live on a poisonous planet.
You have to ask yourself what you’d do in this situation, whether you’d want vengeance. The ISA may claim Vekta as their home, but it was the Helghast who turned that planet from an uncharted world into an economic and cultural powerhouse. The Helghast lost everything in the initial ISA invasion, and the events of the Killzone franchise show them as a people who are fighting due to anger and desperation. Quite simply, the Helghast are fighting to take back their home.
Of course there’s two sides to every story. We may have established that you’re fighting for a group that actively puts down another civilisation, but the ISA can’t be completely blamed for what has happened. After all, they were attacked first, at least in the conflict that the games in the franchise revolve around.
Defending and pushing back are expected when you suffer an attack. That is a natural response honed from millions of years of evolution. In the events of the first Killzone you are absolutely justified in fighting the Helghast. They attacked without real provocation, as peace (albeit uneasy) existed between the two civilisations.[drop2]However, it’s in Killzone 2 where the ISA change from brave defenders to mass murdering monsters. The ISA set out to not just subdue the Helghast, but to outright wipe the Helghast society out with aerial bombardment. The entire plan of the ISA is to flatten all of Helghast civilisation. Now, in the games you’re only faced with Helghast soldiers; fighting them is expected. However, the ISA seemed to forget that a civilisation doesn’t just consist of soldiers.
During the planning stages of this attack did ISA Command forget about the Helghast civilians and children? There is never any mention of the civilian population but they’ll be there, running as their lives are torn apart by fires from the sky. It’s likely that millions were killed in this attack, watching as their homes burned. But none of that is spoken about by the ISA soldiers. Maybe they’re so horrified of what they’re doing that they can’t face it, trying to stay focused on the job in hand instead.
I mean it’s one thing to force an entire civilisation from their original home, but to then chase them to what is basically a prison and try to kill them is barbaric. What choice are the Helghast left with when their very lives are at stake? The Helghast even take the drastic of nuking one of their cities to stop the ISA. No matter which way you look at it, that is an act of desperation by a people who are so afraid of the invading army that they will burn everything to stop them.
Guerrila should really be applauded here for managing to compile an excellent propaganda piece with the Killzone games. I don’t think other games go to such lengths as to portray you as a hero and making you accept that you need to kill the Helghast to survive. As an ISA soldier you follow the mission orders and approach the objectives with absolute certainty that what you’re doing is necessary.
After all, you’re the guys in blue.