Wreckless: The Yakuza Missions turned heads when it was released earlier this year for the Xbox. The game offered a combination of arcade-style gameplay and flashy graphics that showed off some of the Xbox hardware's visual tricks. The blend turned out to be just what the doctor ordered for Xbox owners anxiously awaiting new games. Following Wreckless' success on the Xbox, Activision announced it would be bringing the game to the PlayStation 2. We checked in with UK developer Stealth Studios, which is handling the game's move from the Xbox to the PlayStation 2. We talked to Tom Heath, the producer and director of the game, about how Stealth is handling development and what gameplay extras are being added to make the game more than just a port.
GameSpot: How long has the game been in development?
Tom Heath: Since January 1, 2002--just eight months.
GS: How big is the team at Stealth?
TH: Stealth is composed of 12 people.
GS: What have they worked on before?
TH: They've worked on The Weakest Link since the studio formed last year, and numerous diverse titles between us.
GS: Why did you decide to bring the game to the PlayStation 2?
TH:Wreckless for the Xbox was such a hit, why not expand the experience, and unleash it on the popular PS2 market?
GS:Is it going to be a straight port?
TH:Far from it. The plan was to take the excellent original as a seed for an even bigger and better hit for the PS2. To achieve the performance and additions we were aiming for, the game was written from scratch.
GS:Will you be addressing the issues consumers had with the Xbox game?
TH:A lot of time was spent combing through the feedback to do just that. Handling was altered to be more responsive, and any downsides to original missions were eliminated. In addition, we added things like free roam modes, new music, the ability to hit pedestrians, better cars to start with, increased longevity, 60fps framerate, and more.
GS: Is anything being cut from what was seen in the Xbox game (in terms of content)?
TH:I believe we took out one vehicle, and replaced it with 17 others.
GS: What else is being added?
TH: We're adding 20 new missions, on top of the original 20. Within these will be all new gameplay, and new combinations of the original's gameplay. There will also be 16 more vehicles, which will allow you to drive all the cars that you see on the city streets: buses, trucks, police vans, taxis, etc. You can also expect to see seven modes of two-player, each with four scenarios to play in.
Wreckless for the PlayStation 2 will also have minor tweaks like the ability to fire rockets. You can also hit pedestrians now! You can slow down time to fine tune your driving through thick traffic. A sub-mission is being added for each mission, allowing huge replay as you seek to attain bronze, silver, and gold ratings on each level. These sub-missions often contain a requirement to destroy hundreds of objects or smash dozens of innocent traffic cars. There will also be 20 game-enhancing cheats to allow fun replay of all the missions.
GS: How challenging has it been bringing the game from the Xbox to the PS2?
TH: It's a challenge to bring a technical showpiece such as Wreckless to any console. We made things harder on ourselves by insisting on 60fps and busier environments.
GS: Tell us about the graphics engine. Is it using any Xbox code or is it all original code?
TH: It's all totally new code. The core graphics engine is developed by Travellers Tales, and it is very impressive as an underlying 3D technology. On top of this, we implemented many tricks and optimizations to give the player an exceptional experience.
GS: How are you doing all the special effects?
TH: A lot of the effects are done using a very powerful particle effects-creation tool, developed by Travellers Tales. Others are done with some fairly unorthodox tricks, which we'll keep to ourselves!
GS: Could you take us through the game's modes and give us an idea of what they're going to offer?
TH: Let's see. There's Scenario A--this gives you 20 missions playing as an all-female elite police duo, who hurtle through the Hong Kong streets, intent on stopping the Yakuza and their leader, Tiger Takagi. It's important to note how teeming with life the city streets are, full of traffic, pedestrians, and seemingly unlimited destructible objects. The action takes place in the day, at twilight, at night, in underground passages, and on rooftops. Numerous driving disciplines are called for, from destroying moving vehicles and night racing, to games of cat and mouse and aerial acrobats. Your knowledge of the streets--the shortcuts through subways, shopping centers, and the impossible jumps--all mix to make up this extended adventure in diverse vehicles, where you choose the best one for the job.
Scenario B has another 20 missions, this time following two male spies as they spin out of control through their distinct plot. These missions have even more disciplines and twists to the gameplay. Throughout all the missions, your performance is ranked by the main mission and your delivery on the sub-mission. The more you smash, or the quicker you are, the more cars, cheats, and levels you unlock.
As for the two-player missions, there are seven different types, all of which use an innovative new single-screen head-to-head system, where the camera gives both cars a 3D action view as players compete against each other. The basic levels have you pursuing each other, weaving through busy traffic and using the diverse terrain to your advantage. More advanced missions are there, like capture the flag, which sees you trying to get to your base with the flag. If you are struck while carrying the flag, the roles are reversed. Another mode is cooperative play, where one of you clears the city streets with a giant armored van, while the other player must keep a moving bus above 55mph.
There are also 20 cheats to earn. These will let you do things like get out of your car and hijack other cars, change car physics to create some very high-performance results, alter cameras angles, and so on.
GS: Sounds great. Thanks for your time, Tom.