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'The Shadow of Zorro' Exclusive Q&A

by Thomas on Jan. 18, 2002 @ 3:36 p.m. PST

Guillaume Eluerd is the lead scriptwriter at In Utero, the development team behind the forthcoming 3D-stealth/adventure game, The Shadow of Zorro. The In Utero team, led by Project Manager, Frederic Ressaire has skillfully captured the same action and adventure that remains faithful to the original TV series. The Shadow of Zorro, published by Cryo, will be released in the UK on PlayStation 2 on 8th February 2002.

The Shadow of Zorro is a game that lets you, the player, decide. You can relive Zorro the warrior, in combat mode, or you can play the elusive fugitive. For every occasion there are several options from which to choose. Test your dueling prowess, shooting skills or simply keep a low profile. The game also comprises of special 'features' unique to Zorro. In common with the movies and TV series, the upholder of the law blows out candles with a single swipe of his sword and can make a candelabra fall on Sargeant Garcia's head!

Question:
What is the plot of the Shadow of Zorro?

Eluerd:
Los Angeles, 1820. Don Alejandro De La Vega and Don Diego are preparing themselves to welcome the new Capitan, but as they meet, Don Alejandro recognises the man. His name is Fuertes, a.k.a 'The Butcher of Saragosa'. Fuertes is responsible for a massacre that took place in Saragosa in 1808, while the Spanish people where fighting against Bonaparte's army. The worries of his father deserve a little investigation. It's showtime for Zorro.

Question:
Does the Shadow of Zorro resemble the book or the film?

Eluerd:
I guess our main inspiration would have been the Disney TV shows. Let's be honest, most of us had never read the book before that project came along, and everything we knew about Zorro mostly came from the show we all watched when we were kids. We have all seen the movies, including The Mask, but none of them could take over the Disney series. I guess we decided to remain kids on this one and remake the Zorro we knew.

Question:
What was the inspiration behind the style of gameplay you decided to use?

Eluerd:
Well, when you start working on a game such as Zorro, you have a certain number of things that come along with the character. The 3rd person view is an obvious one, but you also have to include sword fighting, stealth and adventure. The gameplay was directly drawn from these features.

We based the sword fighting system on a combination of "actions" you have to reproduce in order to win the fight. The reason why we chose that solution rather than the basic "beat them all" system came directly from the hero. When you think about Zorro, you don't think about "mass murder", but more about fair, choreographic fights, such as the ones you can see in movies.

We worked with a sword master for several weeks in order to put together some fights that we motion captured and divided into small "quick time" events. One combo corresponds to one event. If you pass the combo, Zorro touches his opponent, if not... There are from 3 to 6 combos for each fight. The number varies according to your opponent or to the level in which you are. Since the game is directed towards a very large audience, from beginners to more experienced players, this system seemed to be the most choreographed as well as the funniest.

Stealth includes the use of shadows and sounds. Zorro can hide in shadows and the sound he makes depends on the kind of ground he is on, the distance he is from the guard and whether he is walking stealthily or running. If he is quiet enough, he may be able to stun his opponent in the back, or simply walk on by unnoticed.

As for adventure, we decided to remain very classic, featuring numerous items to collect, secret passages to find, enigmas to solve...

Question:
How have you found working with the PlayStation2 platform?

Eluerd:
It's the second game we're making for the PS2, first one being Evil Twin. It's true that are previous work on Evil Twin helped us a lot in the making of Zorro, meaning that the PS2 was not a stranger anymore. Yet we decided to add a few effects that seemed necessary such as shadows, "predator" mode and alpha clipping.

I guess it's like everything, the more you work on it, the easier it gets, the more you can add.

Question:
There are many cut-scenes in Zorro from what I've heard, what will these be like and can you skip them?

Eluerd:
Except the introduction and the epilogue, all the cut-scenes were made in 3DRT. They're mainly here to tell you about the story and yes, you can skip them.

Question:
Why did you choose the Zorro Licence?

Eluerd:
Well it's not like we choose that licence out of a hundred others. However it is true that when Cryo first told us about Zorro, it sounded like a good idea, so we decided to make it.

Question:
Will there be a multiplayer mode, maybe a duel?

Eluerd:
At the very beginning we thought about having a duel mode, with the possibility for the players to choose which character they wanted to be. However, within a year of development, we had to make a trade-off. So, we decided to forget about it, focus on what we had and keep the idea for the future.

Question:
Have you motion-captured any of the sword fights on display?

Eluerd:
Oops, seems like I have answered that one already.

Question:
Was it hard creating the necessary gameplay elements to make sword fighting enjoyable?

Eluerd:
The sword fighting was among the easiest thing to put together because we knew exactly what we wanted. I guess that the hardest time we had on that was the motion capture, because it was long. We had to think about everything. We knew there was no way we could come back to it afterwards. It was also the first thing we focused on. It was among the first features to work in the game and that gave us the opportunity to really tune the fights making them as enjoyable as possible.

Question:
Will you be able to earn new skills?

Eluerd:
I told you about the "predator" mode a little earlier, and you probably wondered about that. Well, it's a new skill that allows Zorro to be almost invisible. We called it the "predator" mode because the effect we used looks pretty much like Pretador's camouflage.

Question:
Could you sum up for the readers why they should buy The Shadow of Zorro?

Eluerd:
First of all, if you like Zorro, I guess you will enjoy playing The Shadow of Zorro because we took a particular interest to include all the features that made Zorro such a successful hero. The adventure, the romance, the characters, the sets, everything has been respected and truly realised. Remember when you were a kid and you played at being Zorro with you cape, your hat and your plastic sword? Well, don't kid yourself, the game is exactly like that. It's fun to be Zorro again!

Then I would say the game offers an interesting sword fighting mode. Not only it's rare to see such choreographic fights in video games but also it's rather fun to play. And finally I would give special credit to the graphics, which are really beautiful.

Question:
If successful, will a sequel be in the works?

Eluerd:
Ha ha ha... another reason why your readers should buy The Shadow of Zorro... Nothing has been signed for the moment, but we're seriously thinking about it.

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