Jaws Unleashed Q&A
We take a bite out of the upcoming Appaloosa-developed action game, courtesy of project manager Liz Buckley.
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It's been far too long since Jaws was represented in video game form. Not since the halcyon NES days of "Boat-From-Jaws" has the great white menace been given his dues on the small screen. Thankfully, like the film's Quint and Matt Hooper, here come Majesco and Ecco the Dolphin developer Appaloosa to rectify this dire situation. But what exactly is Jaws Unleashed all about? Majesco product manager Liz Buckley gave us the full story in a recent interview.
GameSpot: Sum up Jaws Unleashed in five sentences or less.
Liz Buckley: Jaws Unleashed is a free-roaming action game that lets you play as Jaws, the great white shark. The game takes place 30 years after the film and includes themes and locations from the Jaws film universe. As Jaws, you can wreak havoc by performing a range of underwater, surface, and air attacks on humans, marine life, and boats.
GS: How long has the game been in development?
LB: By our launch date, it will be approximately two years.
GS: What can you tell us about the developer's background?
LB: Jaws Unleashed is being developed by Appaloosa Interactive. It previously developed Ecco the Dolphin, so it has a great deal of experience creating convincing underwater environments. Appaloosa was a natural partner for us, given the content of the game.
GS: How did you approach making a game out of Jaws? Will it relate to the movies in any way?
LB: The idea originated from our product development team, which had a relationship with Appaloosa. Given its development background and the content of our game, we saw it as an opportunity to bring that technology together with a classic license that has immediate recognition across a broad age demographic. We also believed this title has a place in the crowded action genre because it truly offers something unique: the ability to play the entire game as the great white shark. Instead of humans hunting the shark, the dynamic flops to the shark hunting humans.
Our game takes place 30 years after the original Jaws movie, so we have characters, such as Michael Brody, and spin-offs from the film universe. But it's not a direct translation of the movie (which wouldn't make sense necessarily, since the perspective of the movie's story is from the human point of view, not the shark's).
GS: What gameplay elements did you feel it had to have?
LB: All the biting, tearing, dragging, and swimming motions are incredibly important to capture the feel of playing as nature's ultimate predator. We also worked on breach moves, whereby Jaws can leap out of the water to capsize boats or grab human attackers. To make it a more complete experience, we added in free-roaming gameplay, boss battles, and a variety of missions and side challenges, too.
GS: What's been the biggest challenge in developing the gameplay?
LB: The biggest challenge is creating a well-rounded game that has depth of play. Obviously, there are limitations to what you can do as a shark, but our development team has worked hard to really fill out the game's feature set with compelling gameplay.
GS: How big is the game going to be in terms of size? (for instance, number of levels/chapters, and more)
LB: It will feature upwards of 10 different environments and a wide variety of missions per level, including stealth, chase, timed-destruction, and other ones.
GS: Was it challenging to create variety in the environments given the aquatic setting?
LB: To some degree. But the mission variety helped us achieve environment variety, too. For example, the game includes nighttime settings for stealth play; indoor aquarium environments that Jaws breaks into; deep-sea environments polluted by oil-drilling platforms; more-inland missions that take place near docks, piers, and beaches...and those are just samples.
GS: Will there be any unique content on the different platforms?
LB: All three platforms are being developed simultaneously, so they will have identical feature sets.
GS: Will there be an online component to the game?
LB: Not at this point.
GS: What role does Boat play in the grand scheme of things?
LB: If players explore, they may just find the Orca. [smiles]
GS: Thanks for your time.