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David Jaffe, mastermind behind the Twisted Metal and God of War franchises, wanted to created the game as a counterpoint to the 2003 Iraq War, and then US president George Bush. The game was to be set in heartland of the US, where the player was a member of a Reserve military force defending against an invasion by the Chinese. In this game, the player was separated from their family, and is trying to make their way back to them whilst defending their country against a superior military force. The story and themes were meant to be a counterpoint the real life US invasion of Iraq, where instead of the Americans being the brash and arrogant military force, they are the ones being occupied by the superior military of the Chinese. They player fighting for their family and home against an unjust aggressor mirrors the feelings held that the US invasion of Iraq was unjustified and that those fighting against their occupiers are merely trying to defend what is theirs. Jaffe stated that he wanted players to explore the brutal reaction Americans would have to an invasion by a foreign power.
Production and Cancellation
After God of War, Jaffe was looking to make another story focused game, which coupled with his personal views lead to the idea for Heartland. At the time, Jaffe was still working for Sony Studios Santa Monica, who were not fond of the game, partially for its thematic elements, and partially because of the difficulties in creating a first-person shooter on the PSP. Also, the studio was focused on helping Incognito Entertainment finish the then upcoming Warhawk, and was reluctant to shift development efforts away from that. This lead Jaffe to consider making the game for XBLM, which lead to Jaffe and several other leave Sony and starting Eat, Sleep, Play, Inc. to make downloadable games. However, the company felt that Heartland was not their type of game, and the project was canceled.