WP: Who has the honor to speak with us? State your name, rank, and occupation!
I'm Ted Price, President and CEO of Insomniac Games.
WP: Tell us a little background on the story. Where have things gone from the end of Resistance: Fall of Man and the beginning of Resistance 2?
TP: If you played through the end of Resistance: Fall of Man, there was a final movie after the credits that showed what happened to Nathan Hale after he is presumed dead, and I don't want to give it away, but Resistance 2 begins with that movie. There is complete continuity between the two titles.
Nathan Hale gets taken to a base in Iceland, which is under attack by the Chimera, who have crossed the Atlantic that way and are attacking the base for a very specific reason, which you find out in the game. Nathan Hale barely makes it out of there alive, and is taken back to the mainland, where he joins a group of special soldiers called Sentinels. All of the Sentinels have been infected with the Chimeran virus — as an aside, if you're familiar with Project Abraham, which is our alternate reality game, you'll understand why — but each of these soldiers has similar abilities to Hale.
They band together, and they become really America's best potential defense against the Chimeran invasion, which happens two years later, 1953. America's hit on both sides by two fleets of giant Chimeran floating battleships, which just decimate our coastal defenses. Throughout the game, you, Nathan Hale, and your Sentinels are trying to figure out how to take down this seemingly unstoppable fleet. At the same time, Hale himself is having to deal with the virus running rampant, and the consequences that entails.
WP: The virus also has positive attributes for Hale. How does that work out in the game?
TP: The positive attributes? It keeps him from getting killed as frequently as you'd expect a normal guy to get killed. I mean, what's great about the Chimeran virus is that it provides regenerative abilities, so he's inherited that part, but he's also inherited some other nasty traits that the Chimera have. I'm not going to go into detail because that gives away too much of the story.
WP: Speaking of the Chimera, how have they evolved? In the original game, they had a very distinct weakness — kill the overlord, and they all die. What have they done to prevent that from happening again?
TP: Well, this time, they've had a few years to continue to evolve new strains, or new types of Chimeran creatures, and one of the most important ways that they've evolved is that they're no longer dependent on cooler temperatures. In Resistance: Fall of Man, we saw the Chimera making grand efforts to decrease the temperature of any areas in which they existed. In Resistance 2, they no longer have to worry about that, so we don't see these giant terraforming plants all throughout the U.S. But what we do see are these towers that they are unearthing that have a very different purpose, and they no longer are as vulnerable to the death of an Angel in Resistance 2 either.
We have a new leader of the Chimera who emerges, and there is a big backstory to that as well. You end up having a much closer relationship with him in Resistance 2 than you do with the Angels in Resistance: Fall of Man.
WP: The Resistance series is very visually distinct — "M" rated, lots of gore, lots of violence. How does that compare to say, developing the Ratchet series of games? Isn't it a bit of a jump to go from a family-friendly third-person action shooter to one that's a full-on, Mature-rated game, where you blow everything up and add more blood for good measure?
TP: It certainly is a big jump, and it was one that we had trouble making on Resistance: Fall of Man. It took us a long time to move away from the Ratchet sensibilities — the cartoony character forms, the overexaggerated palates — to a more believable, realistic and mature game. I think by the end of Resistance 1, we felt pretty comfortable jumping back and forth between those two genres. As a result, Resistance 2 has gone back the other way a little bit — adopted more of a color palate, more color than Resistance 1. We heard pretty loud and clear from our fans, that maybe we should have more color, but one thing is that we've upped the gore factor in Resistance 2 because you know what, killing Chimera is fun. The more you can splatter their body parts around, the more fun it ends up being.
WP: Multiplayer has also gotten an upgrade. We've got the multiplayer combat deathmatch, but you also have the co-op, and the co-op campaign, as I understand it, is actually separate from the single-player campaign. How did that work out?
TP: Originally, when we were discussing what to do with co-op, we decided that we wanted to be online, and we needed to raise the bar in terms of the actual number of players. We knew that people were doing two players, four players. We discussed it, but we realized that we could break new ground and create a very different co-op experience if we introduced eight-player co-op. The game dynamics are very different, and by having classes, it really forces players to adopt different strategies than they're used to. Our assumption was, and hopefully will be proven now, is that it provides a very fresh co-op experience.
Going along with that were some real design challenges in that a level designed for eight players moving through it at once is a very different level than a level where you have two players who are playing together. Furthermore, if you have eight players together, you've got to have a lot more enemies to kill, or else it gets very boring very quickly. So we asked our engine team to support many more characters on-screen, many more AI routines running concurrently than we had in Resistance: Fall of Man. As a result, we have what ends up being a pretty overwhelming, at times, co-op experience with hordes and hordes of enemies coming at you, and you've really got to work together to survive these rushes.
WP: Putting together a game of this scope is obviously a lot of work, a lot of people — all the parts coming together. Tell us about a glitch or a hitch, some incident that you had going through the development cycle, and how did you overcome that?
TP: Let's see. When you have a team as big as the Resistance 2 team, and within it you have several teams — such as our multiplayer, co-op and single-player teams — communication is everything. Teams have to be talking constantly and let each other know what their plans are. An interesting example of how this could break down is when the single-player team decides that a weapon should work in one particular way, and since we share weapon code across the different modes, the co-op team may get that weapon and be very surprised one day that it no longer works the way they thought it did. One good example is the Marksman, which is the combination of a sniper rifle and an assault rifle. It's a burst weapon, and we really had to tune it back and forth between co-op and multiplayer and single-player so that it worked well for all three modes because at first, it didn't work as well as we wanted for co-op, when it was working perfectly for single-player.
WP: Putting together a game like this, obviously you're looking at other titles, seeing what works and what doesn't. What are some titles that you've enjoyed in the first-person shooter genre, that you pulled inspiration from?
TP: I think we were originally inspired by Half-Life 2, one of the best designs, one of the most immersive first-person shooters ever that I've personally played, and I really enjoyed the environments in Half-Life 2 and how they created a very dystopian near future. It was great.
Another title that a lot of us played, and we looked at closely, was Call of Duty 4. Call of Duty 4 set the bar last year for first-person shooters, and I think that we wanted to make sure that we would once again set the bar this year for first-person shooters. We wanted to make sure what the best of the best is doing, so that we could stake out our own territory in this very crowded genre.
WP: Is there anything about the game or Insomniac that we haven't talked about that you wanted to add?
TP: Well, it's a big game. Look for it in November. One thing that not very many people may know about is that we have a Collector's Edition coming out. The Collector's Edition actually has a lot of really cool stuff in it for a really good price. It's got the game, of course, and it's a game that has a cover chosen by the fans, which was really fun for us. We actually put out a bunch of covers, and the fans all voted on it, and we ended up using the one, of course, that they chose. We've got a Chimeran action figure in it, made by DC Universe. We've got a hardcover art book that is actually two art books in one. You flip it one way, and it's Alternate Americana, and you turn it over, flip it that way, and it's kind of a sort of a SRPA dossier, our black ops stuff. We've also got a multiplayer skin that you can unlock for the minigun, which you can only get with the Collector's Edition, so anyone you see running around with that skin in multiplayer, they bought the Collector's Edition. Since it's a limited number of Collector's Editions that are being released, you won't see many of those skins. Plus, we've got the first chapter of the Resistance novel, which is coming out this fall. We've got a digital version of the Resistance comic book, issue zero, and a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff, so there's tons and tons of stuff in this package.
WP: Comic books, novels, action figures — when are we going to see a movie?
TP: (laughs) That's a great question. I think we're very happy, first of all, that we're able to expand the Resistance universe beyond the game because it has a lot of depth, there's a lot of backstory that we developed over the years, that simply hasn't made it into the game, that we're making available in other ways, whether it's the novel, which is written by Bill Dietz, a great science fiction author, or the ARG, which is our alternate reality game that came out recently and is still online. Check it out at projectabraham.com.
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