The debut of new hardware always promises a mix of content from developers that ranges from safe games that are prettier representatives of the major genres from the current generation of platforms to original material from developers that are aiming to try something different. Illinois-based developer Volition, an ambitious studio that has always seen fit to be a little adventurous at hardware launches, as evidenced by disparate titles such as Summoner and Red Faction (which came out in the early days of the PlayStation 2), is at it again with Saint's Row. The recently announced third-person action game aims to mix things up on the Xbox 360 launch with what it's hoping will be an evolution of the open-world-gameplay style that began on the current generation of consoles with Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto III. While there have been a slew of clones that followed in GTA's wake, Volition hopes to do more than simply serve up a by-the-numbers action adventure game that looks pretty. In keeping with the team's penchant for making the most out of existing hardware, Saint's Row is being crafted to evolve the genre. We recently visited the developer to get an exclusive look at a work-in-progress version of the game to see just what Volition has cooking.
Before we take you through the story of Saint's Row, we'll give you a quick primer on how it came to be, which is its own little Cinderella story in and of itself. Nearly two years ago now, the gang at Volition was doing what all developers do when they begin brainstorming new ideas: thinking big and thinking crazy. Sadly, big and crazy wasn’t exactly possible on the current generation of consoles, so the gang pitched to THQ a concept video that stitched together rap music, still images, and key words that called out the kind of game they wanted to make. The move was pretty ballsy, considering the mature content that blazed across the flashy video was mature, violent, and far more urban than anything THQ had ever done. Surprisingly, the powers that be were intrigued by Volition's pitch and gave the go-ahead to make the big and crazy game.
Over-the-top explosions are made even more spectacular by next-gen hardare.
So what was this big and crazy game? Well, believe it or not, once upon a time, the game was tentatively titled "Bling," and it was an urban action game that cast you as a gang member defending his turf. The gameplay model was an ambitious attempt to take the open-world-gameplay mechanics seen in GTA and evolve them, while simultaneously adding some new ideas. As development moved ahead, the concept was focused and refined. Meanwhile, the title was changed to Saint's Row, after one of the game's settings. Around that time, the rumblings of a new Xbox began, and the Illinois-based studio and THQ both pounced on the promising new hardware, confident it could help realize the team’s vision.
Now with the background out of the way, let's fill you in on Saint's Row's story. You’ll start out as a low-level member of the Third Street Saints, a small gang in Stillwater that's currently on the most wanted list by the three major gangs that control the city. Your popularity is due to the fact that your gang's territory is in a prime locale that would help the rival gangs in their quests to rule the city. Rather than take this lying down by letting your crew get rolled, you decide that the best course of action is to stay alive (and perhaps come out on top) by rolling them. So you set out to conquer the city, one territory at a time.
Conquering the city is no walk in the park, as you'll have to hunt down your rivals' home bases to have total control over their respective areas. As you'd expect, this isn't as easy as it sounds. The basics of your quest are to complete a variety of different missions and earn respect, which will eventually make it possible for you to discover where their bases of power are so you can assault them. While this may sound linear, it's not, as the entire city is open to you, so you'll be able to go anywhere you like. The only limitations are your reputations among rival gangs and local law enforcement. Your actions in the game will cause you to become notorious and hunted if you're not careful. For example, rival gangs will be indifferent to you unless you start attacking their members, at which point you'll start to become a very popular target for any of their crew members that see you. The same holds true for law enforcement officers, who will eye you suspiciously…unless you start killing cops, at which point you may as well be wearing a bull's-eye. Now, in the off chance you happen to max out the gang and police meters, you won't be able to get around and do much of anything, because much death will be flung your way. However, Volition has thrown in a helpful "out" in the form of a plastic surgeon you can visit in the game for an extreme makeover, if you have the cash. If you don't, you'll be able to wait in your home base until the meters go down and you're able to venture out. However, it will take a while, so splurge on the new face if you're in a hurry.
This all raises the question of the game's economy and how you earn cash. The answer to that is simple, "The old-fashioned way." Plan on jacking people for sport and cash, which is nice. Of course, discerning players won't want to get their hands dirty with all that, since breaking and entering is arguably the best way to make cash, thanks to the game's store system. You'll be able to sell your pilfered goods for some nice cash, or you can take advantage of the local pawn shop. However, really industrious players won't mess with all that. They'll just rob the place blind, which all speaks to the variety of options Volition is packing into the game. All told, Volition is packing a grip of stores that offer all manner of content for you to buy or steal, which you can use to trick out your avatar into the ultimate gangster. Also note that the citizens in the game are all about looks, as they'll expect a lot from you, in terms of style, as your stature grows.
A variety of different cars are available to you.
Although we were weren't able to see everything in action, Volition walked us through the character creation process and explained how the missions will unfold. Basically the entire city is open to you and you can go anywhere, although you will be hassled by local gangs when in their territories. The only limitation to where you can go and what missions you can access is your reputation, which you'll have to build by accomplishing tasks. The more you earn, the more that will be available to you, and the more of the story you can unfold. What's key to the "conquer the city" mechanic is making sure you take out a gang's stronghold to ensure its territory remains yours. If you don't, plan on meeting resistance and potentially losing the territory thanks to an aggressive artificial intelligence that isn't about being punked.
The work-in-progress version of the game we saw, while sporting the rough spots you'd expect from a game running off nonfinal hardware, looked promising. We were shown a few different locales, some city streets, and a warehouse interior, as well as a rough look at the character editor. The most stunning aspect was, of course, the 720p resolution and the dynamic lighting. The texture detail was extremely crisp, and the lighting was already looking good, especially when we got a demo of how it will change over the course of the time of day. Character models were a mix of detailed and plain non-player characters. Though they were understandably early presentations, they did look good. Your character, in particular, shows off a slick amount of detail, especially given your customization options at the start if the game and after you get some work done on your face. The game's less subtle elements, namely gunfire and explosions, are looking spot on, offering a wealth of tasty explosions that should satisfy most players' appetites for mayhem and destruction.
The audio was far from complete, with a good deal of placeholder audio being used to offer a rough idea of the direction the game is going in. Stillwater is being made to offer a rich audio experience that will present a sea of voice and ambient effects designed to pull you firmly into its world. The locals will be a chatty bunch with a lot to say about everything, most especially you as your stature grows over the course of the game. Besides offering the expected high-end audio supported by the Xbox 360, the game will have some fun with its tech. When you're in a car, you'll have the expected array of radio stations to listen to. However, once you purchase or help yourself to an MP3 player, you'll be able to listen to the tunes as you go about on foot. In a cool but subtle use of the 360's powerful sound hardware, your MP3 music tracks can drown out the noise of the world around if you turn the volume up on it. However, it's also not the smartest thing to do when you're traveling through rival gang territory, as you'll likely miss key audio clues that will tip you off to someone about to take a shot at you. As a result, the game will let you find your own middle ground so you can adjust your own volume, allowing you to hear what's going on around you while listening to your tunes. At the moment, Volition is keeping pretty low-key about the specifics of the game's voice cast, but the team has some ambitious plans for the cast. The game's soundtrack will also reflect the same approach, with original and licensed music tracks peppered throughout the game.
Based on what we've seen so far, Saint's Row is very much a diamond in the rough. The ambitious pieces of the game we saw are promising. The Volition crew seems passionate about the game, and it's anxious to get the most out of the Xbox 360. The overall game concept is solid, and the unique elements Volition is focusing on are all good. More importantly, it sounds as though both THQ and Volition are more fixated on ensuring the game realizes the potential all involved feel it has rather than making it out in time for the 360 launch, which is actually a good thing. Given the landscape of early 360 titles, Saint's Row will be a strong addition to the platform's burgeoning library when it hits, not only for its gameplay but also for its smart use of the system's features. Saint's Row is currently slated to ship this holiday, which is just in time for the Xbox 360 launch. Look for more on the game in the coming months.
Bron: http://www.gamespot.com/x360/action/sai ... 25493.html
Wou jullie deze game toch niet onthouden. Beetje GTA feelings
Zag er wel strak uit.