PSU talks with Stranglehold Director, Brian Eddy and Senior Producer Alex Offermann.
PSU: Since Stranglehold is a video-game sequel to the movie Hard Boiled, how much of the game is story driven vs. free roaming/player choices?
What we are trying to do with Stranglehold is to allow gamers to play a John Woo movie – and I must say, I definitely think we have nailed it! Much of the Stranglehold experience is linear because we are paying homage to John Woo’s style of action, however, there are several “sandbox-type” areas where players can take different paths to complete a mission/objective and are rewarded for doing so.
PSU: What other talent do you have lined up besides Chow Yun Fat for Stranglehold?
Besides being directed by acclaimed action director John Woo and starring international action hero Chow Yun-Fat, we will have additional talent that we are currently not discussing at the moment (but we will very soon)!
Because we have an unprecedented level of environmental destruction in Stranglehold and players can use our trademarked “Massive D™” to their advantage in game-play, almost every encounter in the game is unique and interesting. Every single object in the environment can be completely and utterly destroyed. As players progress through the different environments they learn new ways to take down enemies by using the various weapons in the game, OR if they pay close enough to their surroundings, they’ll see different and exciting ways to use the environment to kill enemies during an intense gun battle.
For instance, in one of the boss battles there are giant ornate statues in the room, and if the player shoots out a leg of the statue, it will fall over and damage the boss. We also have lots of cases were the player or enemies can utilize cover that erodes from fire, as well as many more places where an observant player can use the destructibility of the environment to get one over on the enemies.
PSU: How are the controls set up for Tequila Time style fighting and stunts? Do you plan on using the PS3’s SIXAXIS for anything?
Setting up the controls to be intuitive and easy to manage allowing gamers a truly intense action yet cinematic experience was very important to us. Everything is a one button interaction. Tequila Time is turned on automatically when a player engages an enemy that is in the reticle, providing players with the capability of taking down enemies if a variety of stylistic ways – running down banisters, swinging on chandeliers, diving onto rollcarts, all the while engaging in intense, dramatic gun battles that will leave your palms sweaty.
For the most HARDCORE games, players can automatically trigger tequila time, if they’d choose to have more control.
We are trying out a few ideas with the SIXAXIS controller to enhance the PS3 play but we aren’t sure yet whether they will all work out.
One of the team’s favorite’s are the dual-handed pistols, but there are a variety of other weapons, like machine guns, shotguns, sniper riffles and grenades that are just as fun and intense to use in the game.
PSU: If and when can we expect to see a demo on PSN/XBL?
Currently, we do have plans to release a demo, but have not finalized the timing.
PSU: What's being planned for the multiplayer aspect of Stranglehold? What types of modes will there be, how many players will be supported, downloadable content, etc.?
We can confirm that there will be multiplayer in the game, but we are not ready to discuss details at this time.
PSU: What is the expected release date for Stranglehold?
PSU: Anything else you’d like to add about the game or the games development?
We’d love to hear about all excitement, difficulties, and accomplishments that the team has gone though to make this game possible! We can’t wait for people to get their hands on Stranglehold because we believe that this it is going to set the bar for next-gen action games!
We thought it would be interesting to send this last question out to the team. Here are a few responses from some of the different disciplines:
Animation: On the animation front, the biggest challenge was the volume of animation required to complete ONE environment interaction. Take, for example, the ability to swing from a chandelier. That took over 100 poses to allow the player to aim in all directions while on the chandelier, plus a jump to, dismount forward and backward, and grenade throws.
Or the banister slide... Jump on animation with no weapons, single pistol, dual pistol, and shotgun. Then a set of 15 poses per weapon class (45poses). Grenade throws, and dismount animations per weapon class. So over 50 animations just for the player to slide down a banister and shoot at the same time.
Basically any interaction animation was to be multiplied by four.
Audio: One of the challenges from a sound perspective was to try to recreate as realistic of a representation of normal sound occurrences in real life, within this digital world. We wanted the player to feel like they were in the center of a big city, or walking along a harbor, or caught in a rainstorm. We had to start by really listening to what it sounds like in those places and situations -- so for example, if you were walking down a street in Hong Kong, you would hear cars, trucks, and motor-scooters driving by, as well as the occasional horn honk, plane flying overhead, emergency sirens wailing in the distance, dogs barking behind fences, cats yowling in alleyways, a baby crying or a domestic quarrel coming from an open window... we had to listen for the whole spectrum of sounds that were possible in the real world. Then we had to come up with ways to create a package of sounds and effects that, once placed around the map, would come together to create a spontaneously random, realistic surround sound experience.
While it may ultimately be a subtle effect in the game, on a subconscious level, it adds a lot of substance and realism to the events taking place in the game.
Cinematics: I think one of the biggest accomplishments the cinematic team had was staying true to John Woo’s style in this regard. I know it sounds cliché at this point to say it but every nuance and every aspect in the creation were not overlooked. From mimicking his stylistic camera’s, and the quick, intense cuts that build up an extreme amount of tension before unloading on a group of baddies in the Mexican Stand offs. Also the extreme attention to detail that the facial animators put into mimicking Tequila’s every phoneme and gesture definitely has proven to raise the bar for the next-gen of gaming!
PSU would like to thank Brian, Eddy and the rest of the Stranglehold team for participating in this interview.