PSU Interview: Soldier of Fortune: Payback


PSU catches up with Game Producer Dan Gniady to get the final scoop on the third instalment in one of the most gruesome first person shooters series to date – Solider of Fortune: Payback.

PSU:  What is the general storyline behind Soldier of Fortune Pay Back and will John Mullins make an appearance as a side character?

Gniady: John Mullins will not appear in the game. We created a new character for players to portray – Thomas Mason, a freelance mercenary. When his latest mission goes wrong, Mason must travel the globe and uncover and terminate an extremist plot against an enemy that has no respect for any law, nation or army.

PSU: What technical features has your CloakNT3 engine allowed specifically in Soldier of Fortune Pay Back? Are you licensing this engine to other studios by any chance?

Gniady: The biggest technical feature that CloakNT3 has afforded us is the damage system. The damage modeling is very elaborate, and of course there is a completely updated dismemberment system. We are not licensing CloakNT3 to any other studios.

PSU: How many weapons will be available in single player and multiplayer? Will the weapons be customizable and if so, to what degree?

Gniady: There are over 35 weapons available for both single player and multiplayer gameplay. The weapons will be customizable through our attachments system. Many weapons can be equipped with Scopes, Collimators, Red Dot Sights, Under-barrel Grenade Launchers, Handgrips, and Silencers. These weapons are all balanced with what attachments the player can equip and the base statistical values of each weapon.

PSU: Soldier of Fortune is known for its gore. What new enhancements have been made to the damage system and animations in Pay Back?

Gniady: I think the biggest enhancement aside from an obvious upgrade in graphical quality would be the ability to dismember enemies who are still alive. In Payback the player can shoot an arm off of an enemy and the will continue to fire their weapon as long as it was not their primary arm that was shot off. If you blow off their leg they may continue to fire at you, or they may attempt to crawl away to cover.

In terms of animations we did extensive motion capture work in order to create very rich hit reactions. Our hit animations depend on the area of the body shot as well as the caliber of the round that the enemy was hit with. Shooting an enemy provides a very visceral reaction and I think we captured that very well in fluidity of our animations. Then there is always the classic neck and groin shot animations.

PSU: How many vehicles will be available in single player and multiplayer? Will there be unique death animations when hitting enemies with vehicles?

Gniady: Though you’ll encounter and battle people in vehicles, there will be no vehicles for the player to drive in Payback.

PSU: Other then extreme gore, what sets Soldier of Fortune apart from other FPS titles like Haze or Call of Duty 4?

Gniady: I think there are many things. Soldier of Fortune as a franchise has always been that sort of Rambo over the top sort of game; it doesn’t take itself too seriously. We focus on the action, we want the player to have fun running through an environment blowing stuff up and killing tons of enemies. Also there will be boss fights in Payback. Now these aren’t your normal boss fights, they aren’t giant beings that take up half of the screen. They are regular people who are skilled fights and excellent marksman.

PSU: Have you had to make cutbacks on your gore system to maintain an “M” rating? Has the ESRB had anything to say yet about Soldier of Fortune Pay Back?

Gniady: We haven’t had to make any cutbacks really but you’ll note a whole bunch of content descriptors on the ESRB Rating notice. We designed the game from the start to be an “M” rated title. The gore system has not been dumbed down at all to maintain the rating. The ESRB really hasn’t had too much to say about it, they gave us a rating promptly and there wasn’t anything really that needed to be debated.

PSU: Will there be SIXAXIS or Dualshock 3 support for PlayStation 3 gamers?

Gniady: There will be SIXAXIS support for the game. It will be an optional function where the player can use motion controls to reload or melee attack if they wish. This can be turned on or off and while it is set to on the player will still be able to use the buttons for these functions as well.

PSU: Have you noticed any differences between the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of the game?

Gniady: Not really, they are very similar graphically. The control schemes are also the same.

PSU: What improvements are being made to the AI system? What can we expect if we try and go Rambo on a group of armed hostiles?

Gniady: The AI is pretty relentless. If they spot you and you try to run away to another part of the level they will track you down. If you injure one and do not kill them they will shoot at you from the ground until they are dead. It is important to make sure everyone is dead in Payback, I have gotten into the habit of shooting a couple of extra rounds into each enemy corpse to be sure they are dead. Often times you will throw a grenade or just gun down a bunch of enemies and create a pile of bodies. Problem is sometimes one or two may still be alive on the ground either bleeding out or severely injured. You quickly learn your lesson when you are killed by one of these guys.

As far as going Rambo…what difficulty will you be trying this on? It can be done, and it is very satisfying, but you need to be a skilled player to go all Rambo all the time. There are certainly parts of the game where you are encouraged to charge forward and shoot anything that moves, but it takes a particularly skilled player to go Rambo style on sequences that we designed with taking cover in mind. Let’s just say it can be done and it is awesome.

PSU: Can we expect to see the same level of destructible environments that we see in the gore system? To what extent will we be able to destroy our surroundings?

Gniady: The level of destruction for the environment around you often caters to the damage system. You can blow up cars and do a high amount of damage and dismemberment. Certain parts of the environment will crumble and fall apart as it is shot, things like pillars and support beams. All surfaces will reflect being shot by bullets and all surfaces can also be coated in the blood of your enemies.

PSU:  How many players will be supported for online? Any offline action available (Co-op)?

Gniady: All multiplayer modes will support 2-12 players online. As far as offline multiplayer we also have incorporated LAN play for 2-12 players. There isn’t co-op gameplay, Thomas Mason is a mercenary and works strictly alone.

PSU: What multiplayer options will be available to the player? Customizable Soldiers? Game Mode Options?

Gniady: There are a number of gameplay settings such as round time, player lives, and all that kind of stuff. The player will choose from pre-made multiplayer skins. The player will be able to however create a custom weapons loadout for multiplayer from all of our weapons and attachments.

PSU: Will there be a demo available for Xbox Live and PlayStation Network? If so, is there a set date?

Gniady: There will not be a demo.

PSU: Anything else you’d like to add? Please feel free to comment on anything important we may have missed.

Gniady: I am excited to see everyone’s reaction to the damage and dismemberment system, and then their reaction to me blowing off all of their limbs online!

PSU would like to thank Gniady for putting aside some of his time to answer our questions. Soldier of Fortune: Payback is out now for PS3 and Xbox 360.