Q&A: X-Squad

EA discusses the changes being made to the US version of its PlayStation 2 squad-based shooter X-Squad.

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Recently, GameSpot had the opportunity to speak with Mike Jeffress at Electronic Arts, who is responsible for the US translation of X-Squad for the Sony PlayStation 2. This squad-based shooter was recently released for the Japanese Dreamcast, and EA has several changes planned for the US version. Among the planned tweaks are the obvious addition of English voice-overs, an improvement in the game's AI, and a reworked storyline. For more on these and other changes being made to the US version of X-Squad, take a look at the complete Q&A below:

GameSpot: There were nine stages in the Japanese version of the game. Are there any plans to expand on that for the US version?

Mike: No, we didn't add any new levels to the US version of the game. We felt that the unrolling of the gameplay in the original version was good, so no changes were made. However, we did add difficulty levels - novice, intermediate, expert - which adds replayability. It also significantly changes how the game is played. In the intermediate and expert levels, the gameplay changes from a "run in and shoot everything in sight" to a stealthier gameplay style, where you have peek around corners and take terrorists out one at a time.

GS: Following on that theme, will the game's story or plot be tweaked or expanded to adapt to these gameplay changes in the US version?

Mike: Yes, our version's story was changed to fit the US audience better. The US gamers are a sophisticated bunch, and the tongue-in-cheek humor of the Japanese version most likely would not have appealed to them.

GS: Will a multiplayer mode be added to the US version?

Mike: We debated long and hard on having multiplayer in the US version, but due to our timing constraints and the fact that most gamers really don't like to play against each other in action games, we decided against it. Trust me, the single-player game experience is very challenging, and the multiplayer game will not be missed.

GS: Graphically, X-Squad was already a nice-looking game. Are you doing anything to take further advantage of the PlayStation 2 hardware for the US version?

Mike: We didn't add anything graphically, with the exception of new character art for the squad members - including new costumes. Our EA/Square studio did a great job and made the character models look spectacular, and the lighting/special effects bring the environments alive.

GS: Any other aspects of the US version you'd like to discuss?

Mike: I should also mention the game's AI was improved for better game balance and interactivity. Enemy bosses and other characters were tuned to get tougher as the game progresses, so in the latter levels, you better walk lightly and carry a big gun.

GS: When can we expect X-Squad to be ready for a US release?

Mike: X-Squad will be on the shelves when the PlayStation 2 ships, so all those next-generation gamers better have their trigger fingers ready.

GS: Finally, a bit off the subject, X-Squad was the first project for the game's Japanese development team. What other games have members of that development team worked on?

Mike: Well, X-Squad is the first title this studio has developed. They have converted several US and European titles into the Japanese format, but this was their first solely owned title.

GS: Thanks, Mike.

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