With EA’s up and coming title Army of Two due for release in early March, we decided it would be a good idea to team-up with its Producer, Matt Turner, to bring you some inside information with our first Exclusive Monster Q&A on the game.
Q: What was your inspiration to create a game such as Army of Two?
A: There was a gap in the shooter market of a true COOP experience and we wanted to fill that gap. There are games out there that have coop options but none that really emphasize and focus on coop as a fundamental mechanic. And let’s face it, COOP is fun.
Q: Co-operative gaming seems to be the mode at the moment, what co-op games have influenced the development of Army of Two?
A: There have been 3 games that really influenced us from the get go. Counter-Strike as one of the more modern games but the coop feel and militaristic influences came from Double Dragon and Contra…calling out the old school. Those were two of the original COOP games that really made it work and we wanted to add onto that rich history with something new and fresh.
Q: How has Counter Strike been an influence towards the development of Army of Two?
A: The versus mode weapon purchase is strongly influenced by Counter-Strike.
Q: So tell us a little about the story behind the single player campaign?
A: The single player campaign is not much different from the coop campaign. As far as the story goes it is identical and when it comes to game play, we really wanted to have a partner AI that is useful and satisfying- that behaves as a real person would. And I think we achieved that. He is dynamic and effective and adapts to the situation around him. The plot revolves around Tyson Rios and Eliot Salem. We follow their careers from US Army Rangers to Elite PMCs and all the stuff that happens to them along the way. It’s got it all.
Q: The game is set over many different countries, are there any particular reasons behind why you chose these locations?
A: We chose our locations simply because they’re great settings for a shooter game. They are colourful and relevant backdrops for our fictional story. It was also nice to recreate these places that have been all over the media recently and give the players a taste of what they might actually look and feel like.
Q: Army of Two will be coming to both Xbox360 and PS3 consoles, how has the development been on both of these platforms?
A: It’s been great. They are very different to develop for, each with their own advantages and pit-falls but to be honest, on the production side of things I don’t really get into the meat of that stuff…a question better suited for our lead engineers.
Q: Have you had to make any sacrifices in the development of the game on either console?
A: We are happy to say no to both. We have been able to keep the game level across both platforms. The only real difference between the two is that we were able to implement the Sixaxis controllers in the PS3 version. Aside from that, the game play, the graphics, the sounds is all equal. It’s a luxury not to have to change much or loose content from one to the other.
Q: How has the Sixaxis controller been utilised in the PS3 version of the game and will we also be seeing DualShock3 support?
A: You can reload your gun just by moving the controller up and down which is pretty fun…there are a couple of other things we put in there as well. And I am happy to say that we WILL be having DualShock3 support when it comes out.
Q: We’ve heard that you’ve had to drop the “tampon” mini-game where you revive your team mate. How will health be managed now in the game?
A: The most significant change that was made to the game during our polish period was in fact the revamping of entire health system. So, before, the player had two health meters in their HUD (one for them and one for their partner) We dropped the player’s health meter entirely and represented health loss and taking damage by the screen turning increasingly red as well as a sound queue of a heartbeat. Once the player goes down he is injured and is sitting on the ground. But unlike before when you were brought into a little mini game and extracted from the fire fight, now you are always in the fight. So you sit and have to defend yourself until your partner can get to you and drag you to safety and heal you with a one button command. The downed player can still pull aggro, sustain more damage and kill NPCs… It really adds to the pace and flow of the game and we feel it is a much better system. It’s also infinite, so as long as your buddy can get to you, he can heal you. Unlike the previous system which was more your traditional three strikes and you’re out. It makes the game a little more forgiving at the right times.
Q: Along with dropping this mini-game, have you had to cast any other ideas into the recycle bin that you would have liked to have seen included in the game?
A: There were a few things that got cut and brought a tear to our collective eye. Both the tank and dune buggy sequences had great potential but weren’t quite up to scratch and we felt we couldn’t get them where they needed to be so we had so we had to cut them. That was tough.
Q: Does the available vehicles take a priority in the SP campaign or can you choose not to use the vehicles in order to complete the missions?
A: We ended up cutting two of the vehicle sequences, leaving just the hovercraft and parachute. Both sequences are mandatory in both SP and COOP…I mean, at one point you jump out of a plane…it would kind of stupid if you had the option to not use a parachute and plummet to your death, no?
Q: On the Achievement front there are 37 achievements making a total of 1000 GS points. Did you have fun creating these achievements or did you find them to be a bit of a chore?
A: It was really fun. Actually, we had too many ideas for achievements and we had to cut a bunch of them. There are so many things that you can do with it, it is really a carte blanche, so the hard part was trying to create some kind of cohesion and theme to the group as a whole…I think we were able to do that…I guess I’ll let you be the judge of that when it comes out.
Q: In Army of Two’s achievements, you have used some great movie quotes such as “This is my Boomstick”, taken from Army of Darkness, can you tell us the reasons behind this?
A: Well, we take our inspiration for these big projects from all kinds of different media and sources and naturally when you are making a shooter the classic references come up…a few of us here are HUGE Bruce Campbell fans and wanted to give him a shout out for properly glamorizing the shot-gun with such an elegant delivery of the Raimi Brother’s line. And then some of the other references “Say Hello to my Little Friend” are in there because they are familiar and perfect for what we were doing…everyone knows the quote and we put in a different context…we’re just having a little fun.
Q: Games on average nowadays take around 8 hours to complete. What kind of features have you put into the game to help enhance its replay ability?
A: There are a few things that I think will really up the replayability of our game. One: the aggro system. It really allows the player to decide how they want to solve killing the enemies. They can try it one way, go and buy new guns and then employ a completely different tactic the second, third and fourth times through. As well as that, we have the guns that I just mentioned. I think that players will not only want to get them all but also try them all out, in different combinations and with different upgrades. And finally I think the experience will greatly change depending on the kind of partner you have and people will want to try the game with different friends who have different tactics and ways to tackle the maps.
Q: Aside from additional multiplayer maps, what other downloadable content might we be seeing?
A: We are geared up to hit hard with the PDLC. Not to be too stingy on that question but I can’t really talk about the other stuff we have in development right now. All I can say is that it’s cool and we are excited about it.
Q: What kind of co-operative challenges will we be expecting in the multiplayer aspect of the game?
A: As far as coop interaction in the multiplayer goes, the modes are based on objectives and making money rather than the straight killing of your opponents, so all the objectives require the teammates to work together in order to complete them. As well as that you can expect to see all the coop actions you use in the campaign mode…and maybe some vehicles that were cut from the campaign mode…that’s right.
Q: Will online players be able to drop in/drop out of the single player campaign, as seen in Gears of War?
A: No, in short. But you can start a game with somebody at any map provided you have already played that map. If you have never been to China, you can’t join a guy who is half way through and ready to start The Factory.
Q: Tyson Rios looks the brains of the two players, but If Salem and Rios got into a fight, who would win and how?
A: Oh, not pulling any punches are we? Huh. Well I definitely think that Salem would start the fight…he would get all ****ed off over Rios stepping on his sandwich or something. I am going to give a two part answer:
1) If it was a fist fight, I think that Rios would win out a sheer strength and toughness. Yeah, Salem fights dirty but once he got caught in Rios’ claws, it would be all over.
2) If the fight involved weapons of any kind, I think that Salem would take it, especially fire arms. Salem has no fear and would rush Rios like a crazy war-crazed Apache and Rios would be overwhelmed…it would probably get really messy.
Q: Are there any bonuses with pre-ordering the game in the form of exclusive access to weapons etc?
A: Interesting. It was almost as if you KNEW that we had a weapons design contest, where the winners of which (2 people) had their weapons put in the game…and almost as if you KNEW that the only way you had access to said weapons was if you pre-ordered the game…almost as if you knew…but not quite. 😉
Q: Finally, Army of Two is due for a March release, are you able to tell us what weekend we should be taking off work?
A: I would suggest March 7th to the 8th…ideally. If not, then take the whole week of March 10th to the 14th and really sink your teeth into it. I will be ripping chumps up on-line around those dates.
Thank you for your time Matt, we will be looking forward to ripping chumps in early March.