Resistance: Fall of Man Q&A - Rewriting the Past
We check in with Insomniac's Ted Price to find out more about this history-bending PlayStation 3 shooter.
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Resistance: Fall of Man stood out as one of the more promising PlayStation 3 titles on display at this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo. The atmospheric first-person shooter from veteran developer Insomniac Games takes place in 1951 on an alternate Earth that conveniently never had to sweat World War II. This is something of a mixed blessing, since the trade-off is that humankind has had to face a greater threat in the form an alien menace called the chimera, who have ravaged most of the world's population.
This funky "what if?" premise lends itself to some unique situations that will certainly separate Resistance from your typical WWII-era shooter. The demo on display at E3 offered us a taste of what to expect from the game, but we tracked down Insomniac president Ted Price to see if he'd cough up any more info on the upcoming title that's expected to be part of the PlayStation 3's launch lineup.
GameSpot: How long has the game been in development?
Ted Price: We've been in production on Resistance: Fall of Man for several months now and were in preproduction for a long time before that. How's that for a vague answer?
GS: Why did you choose to make this kind of game? It's a change of pace from what Insomniac has done recently.
TP: People keep asking us this question, and we remind them that our first game was an FPS for PlayStation 1 called Disruptor. Incidentally, Disruptor received critical acclaim and always seems to generate fond memories among FPS fans to this day. It's pretty cool when we talk to journalists and they say, "Yeah, Disruptor! I remember that one back on the PlayStation 1. Great game!"
With Resistance: Fall of Man, players will experience exotic weapons, creepy, diverse creatures, and extremely polished single-player and multiplayer action, among many other features. Looking back at our other titles, is this really a dramatic deviation from what Insomniac Games is known for? OK, Ratchet & Clank and Spyro the Dragon may not have featured creepy characters, but the creatures were certainly diverse. Anyway, we're taking a lot of our strengths in terms of attention to detail, weapons strategy, character variation, and plain old fun gameplay creation and applying them to this game as we have every other game we've made. It's just a whole lot darker thematically this time.
GS: How long did it take to put together the E3 demo?
TP: It's hard to say because the assets you see for the E3 demo will appear in the final game, albeit with more polish. It wasn't as if we dropped everything and said, "Let's make a demo just for E3." Yet we certainly spent plenty of extra time adding detail earlier than we would have during a regular production cycle. We began adding that detail as soon as GDC was over. So, a large portion of our team was dedicated to making the E3 levels great from the end of March to the beginning of May.
GS: Given that first impressions are so important, what did you feel the demo had to have to make the impact you wanted?
TP: There were a few features that we viewed as essential to introducing the Resistance: Fall of Man universe at E3. First, we wanted to show off some of our weapons, which we believe are fresh additions to the FPS genre. Second, we wanted to demonstrate our proprietary physics system's capabilities and how that would translate to gameplay. Destroying an entire laboratory piece by piece and shattering glass in completely realistic ways is going to be a blast, no pun intended. Third, we wanted to give players a taste of what we're calling "hero moments," when you can turn the tide of a firefight by choosing to save your allies from a near certain death at the hands of chimeran enemies. Finally, we wanted to create an overall sense of a believable world--one that appears to have existed in the mid-20th century but is "twisted" because of the chimeran presence.
GS: Did you get the reaction you expected from the game?
TP: We got a great reaction from everyone who played Resistance: Fall of Man at the Sony booth. And, the fact that it was accessible to everybody who visited the booth was excellent for us because we could take notes when people tried out the game for the first time. And then when they came back to play again, we took more notes.
On the whole, I think people immediately saw the potential for the game becoming one of the strongest console launch titles to date. The weapons, especially our bullseye, auger, and hedgehog, were hits with everyone who fully experienced them--especially the alt-fire capabilities. Plus, we were pleasantly surprised at how well received the hero moments were and in fact have now put an even greater emphasis on them in the final game.
That said, we didn't expect people to be so jaded about the current state of all PlayStation 3 games. I think that sometimes it's hard for folks to remember that what they see at E3 is months away from being finished product--and that means there will be a ton of improvement in all of the titles before launch.
GS: What speculation did you see written about the game on forums that was totally wrong?
TP: This is a pretty easy question to answer. Some people seem to think we're "just a WWII shooter with aliens." We've been pretty vocal about the fact that WWII doesn't even exist in our game. But we're also making sure that with our weapons, story, backgrounds, and characters, Resistance: Fall of Man feels very different than the large crop of WWII shooters that has appeared over the past several years. Once we reveal more details about the story and game, we're confident that Resistance: Fall of Man will stand on its own as a unique experience. And despite what you saw at E3 that revealed little about the chimera, in the game we're putting a heavy emphasis on chimeran architecture, weapons, and vehicles that will create a big "twist" on the European background.
GS: How representative of the actual game is the demo in terms of content and pacing? Is it an actual level, or is the action taken from different parts of a single level?
TP: We showed segments from actual levels featured in Resistance: Fall of Man. The Manchester battlefield segment was roughly one-fifth the size of the actual in-game level, and the Northern Command Center was roughly one-third the size of the actual in-game level. Of course, we're still working on overall gameplay enhancements, as well as pacing. For example, we're fine-tuning strategic environmental details, such as destructible cover that will force players to make quick decisions about how they engage the chimera in combat. More specifically, in the game you'll have to be careful about which types of cover you use--some will be durable, some will deteriorate slowly, and some will be shredded quickly.
GS: What can you tell us about the weapon count in the final game?
TP: Resistance: Fall of Man will feature an evenly balanced arsenal of chimeran and human weapons. We've revealed some of both types and will be introducing several more original (and explosive) chimeran and experimental human weapons over the coming months. All weapons will feature alt-fire modes, and much of what we'll be showing is, we feel, original to the genre. What should make hardcore fans happy is that you get to keep all of the weapons you find. You don't have to give up any, and this allows players to get more creative with weapons strategy throughout the game.
GS: What can you tell us about the vehicles in the game?
TP: We can tell you that we will have playable vehicles in the game, but we're not revealing details right now.
GS: What single- and multiplayer game modes are you hoping to include?
TP: Resistance: Fall of Man multiplayer gameplay will be highly customizable and feature a variety of gameplay options beyond the deathmatch mode that was shown at E3. We developed a lot of experience creating unique multiplayer gameplay in the Ratchet & Clank franchise, and we're building off that knowledge to create some fresh, new multiplayer modes in Resistance: Fall of Man. As for single-player, you can play with a buddy in co-op through the entire single-player campaign, and we'll have an extensive replay mode as well. The bottom line is that Resistance: Fall of Man is going to be a big, diverse game, whether you're playing on your own, with a friend via co-op, four friends offline via split-screen, or 31 of your closest buddies online.
GS: Do you have any plans to support downloadable content or serialized content?
TP: Yes, we're planning to support downloadable content via Sony's Network Platform. We'll reveal more later.
GS: How are you planning to take advantage of the PS3 controller?
TP: We'll definitely take advantage of the tilt-y, sense-o-rama-type stuff on the PS3 controller. We're considering a lot of possibilities right now. Give us a couple more months and we'll demo it for you.
GS: What can you tell us about the story? How will it play out? Will there be CG movies, or will it all be in-game cinematics?
TP: We put a lot of work into the game's story and backstory. We can share that the game will focus on mysterious events involving US Army Ranger Sgt. Nathan Hale from July 11 through July 14, 1951. We don't want to reveal too much more than that so we don't spoil any plot points. However, we've created an extensive timeline of important 20th-century events in our universe that have helped create a more immersive and plausible overall experience. And this timeline is fairly different than what you and I know about the 20th century. For example, these events will help explain why WWII never occurred, and what happened during that time period. Elements of this timeline may be revealed in the game or be made apparent in other ways.
We're also going to tell the in-game story in what we think is a unique way, using a combination of in-game cinematics and CG movies captured from our proprietary rendering engine, reconnaissance photos, authentic maps, and narration (from somebody other than Sgt. Hale).
GS: Lastly, what resolution will the game run in?
TP: Resistance: Fall of Man already runs at 720p, but we're aiming for 1080p.
GS: Thanks for your time, Ted.