One of the more appealing elements in the upcoming Xbox version of Rockstar's State of Emergency is the ability to lose your mind and redefine "property damage" in the game. You'll be able to tear through different environments in the game that feature a nice selection of interactive elements to demolish. We talked to producer Alison Wilson and director Jamie Bryan about the environments you'll be rampaging through.
GS: What level is the largest in terms of area size?
Jamie Bryan: Every section of the game has a different look and feel, and all of them are big, but Corporation Central is the largest. It has a maze of streets and underground subway tunnels that lead to the final battle in the city square. Each of the city areas are designed to feel and play differently. The mall has upper floors, open plazas, and garages. Chinatown has loads of alleyways that cut through the map leading you to different areas. East Side is very open but still has some hidden surprises.
GS: Do you have a favorite?
JB: All the levels have a unique draw to them, but my favorite is the mall because of the random announcements and massive chaos. The mall also has two levels, so it's fun to shoot off the balcony at rivals that are on the lower level, without getting yourself hurt. There is a car park that you can use to hide from your enemies--when they come in, you can pick them off to complete your objectives.
GS: Do any of the environments designs favor weapon usage?
Alison Wilson: Projectile weapons such as the grenade launcher and rocket launcher are great in levels that are more open, like the East Side, as the grenades are prone to bouncing off walls back at you and getting you blown up in the process. Pistols, tasers, and bats are the perfect weapons to use in the back alleyways of Chinatown since these areas require a more hands-on approach when defeating your enemies.
GS: Are any environments better suited to multiplayer games?
JB: We made sure that all the levels have their own unique characteristics that will make the multiplayer game fun and challenging when playing in any environment. Chinatown, for example, is fun to play in the deathmatch mode, as there are wide-open places that you can use to recruit your gang members and then go after your opponents, but it's also good to play in survivor mode, as there are back alleyways where you can hide from all your enemies, launch a sneak attack, and stay alive the longest.
GS: What was the inspiration for the stylized look of the environments of State of Emergency?
JB: The game is over the top, in your face, and played at 100mph. We wanted the style of the game to follow the feel of the gameplay and the characters to have a strong onscreen presence, so we decided to exaggerate the proportions of the characters, making them a lot of fun to watch and play. The environments followed the same rules, so you can have fun and take out your aggressions and feel like you're almost part of a cartoon.
GS: Are there locations in the environments that are character specific?
AW: Yes, there are certain stores in which the gang leaders post their headquarters and guard their turf. In the East Side, for example, the 3rd Street Killaz are likely to be hanging around Joy Pad, the local video game store, while the Skinz are headquartered on the other side of town at Candy Girl. The Corporation has posts all over each of the environments; you can see the Corporation officers heavily guarding all of their posts.
GS: Why did you decide to add gang leaders in the Xbox version?
JB: Having a unique boss character added to the atmosphere of the fights and gave the gangs unique personalities. Gang leaders also helped tighten the story in the revolution mode, making the game more cohesive and giving the player a key enemy or ally.
GS: How much of the environment can you interact with?
AW: Most of the environment is interactive--you can blow up cars and buildings--it's all part of taking down the corporation. It's pretty satisfying to lob a grenade in a window and watch as the entire building goes up in a huge ball of fire. Watch yourself when shooting around the cars. Even when you're using a smaller weapon like the pistol, you always run the risk of hitting the car in a certain way and blowing it--and yourself--sky high.
GS: Is there a limit to how many people you can have in your gang?
AW: In deathmatch there are up to 50 characters running around the map, and if you're good they can all belong to you. There is also a special power-up for the deathmatch mode--if you kill a bunch of your opponent's minions, you can pick up the helper icon and convert all of your enemy's dead gang members to your side. Having so many helpers fighting for you to the death keeps you alive that much longer.
GS: How many items are there to pick up and use in the environments?
AW: Plenty. In all of the environments there are signs, benches, stools, garbage cans, boxes, traffic cones, street signs, and more. There are also looters running around each map--knock one of these guys down and pick up their stolen goods. Looters can be seen carrying TVs, VCRs, microwaves, pretty much anything they can get their greedy little hands on, and it's all there for you to use.
GS: What is the easiest way to figure out how to get around some of the more confusing maps?
AW: Really, the best way to learn the maps is just by running around. They're all laid out so there is a nice flow to it, but when push comes to shove there is no real easy way to learn the maps without playing them. But just keep your eyes open for landmarks--statues, storefronts, etc.--and remember what's around there. Another important thing to remember is that you need to explore all the little alleys and crevices, because sometimes we hide the good weapons there. Wink. Wink.
GS: How did you come up with the ideas for the environments?
JB: The ideas came from our thoughts on what a state-of-emergency-style city would look like. When everyone gets caught up in a lockdown, there is really no telling what kind of mayhem could break out. State of Emergency isn't based on any particular city; it is just a hodgepodge of different places everyone can relate to--we have a mall, Chinatown, and a couple of downtown areas.
GS: Thanks for your time.