Suffur has been to the GCA as a roving reporter for BurnoutAholics.com, this is the first of his series of interviews from the convention. This interview is with John Doyle Producer for NFS: Undercover. Black Box is the company making this game and it is distributed by EA Games. The interview was not recorded so the answers are taken from notes and are not direct quotes. We would like to take this opportunity to invite John Doyle to let us know about any misquotes so we can make any corrections.
Q: The First thing I hit him with was the Black Box site needed updating since the late game that they were constructing was NFS: Pro-Street which was their version of Project Gotham and Forza 2?
He said he would look into that, lol.
Q: I then asked him about the game site as it was very interesting Panoramic View where you click on bits of glass which gives you information about the game. Did this style have any reflection in the game, like a swinging camera view around the car or when you crash?
No was the answer, crap not going well for the first question, though the modern look was important to sell the game?
Q: I asked what the game was about, it seemed like a flip side to GTA 4, where the player was on the side of the good guys, so was all the game play based in the cars or do the characters get out of the cars to have shoot outs. As some of the character profiles on the web site talked about their gun expertise and stuff similar to a shooter type of game?
No, the car is the star, it's all about the driving, doing missions. It's not like GTA 4, but you are sort of treated like a criminal because no one except your handler knows you are a good guy, so the cops are all over your ass, trying to arrest you? Trying to stop you on every corner, with road blocks, helicopters and specialised police cars.
You have missions to complete, Collection of bounty, running from the cops, and racing bad guys that are in gangs that you have to infiltrate.
Q: I hear that this game is going more realistic, are you going against Forza 2 and Project Gotham 4 for handling or is it the look of the game that is more realistic with lighting effects etc?
We looked at the physics it's has been taken from real cars, since we are using real cars in the games, but then we took it up a notch, so the driving is more movie style, a touch of Hollywood if you will. Though we have upped the graphics a lot, this is the spiritual successor to NFS: Most Wanted, not saying it is NFS: MW but along the same lines, if you know what I mean?
Q: There is a lot of Buzz about 'Pure' and its arcade feel, which from a BurnoutAholic's point of view is what some gamers are looking for, rather than more realistic? What do you think about this?
Well we are using real cars, so there is some reality in the game but it's a more heroic style of driving in these cars, and we are more arcade than realistic, like some other games, for instance Forza 2, Gran Turismo and other games along those lines.
Q: NFS: Undercover seems like Fast and Furious brought to life? Is this your aim, to give your players a feel of that movie?
No, we are trying to avoid that, you are the hero and your undercover and no one but your handler, played by Maggie Q (for anyone who does not know who she is she was in Die Hard 4.0 as the female villain). She guides you through the story, and she is the only one who knows you are a good guy. We are not using animation of characters to tell the story, like some of the NFS's before. We shot the whole story like a real movie and we shot it in Hollywood, all the cut scenes, it does give a sense of realism because we did this, we want you to be immersed in the story.
Q: You have a driving space called Tri-City, how does this compare against Burnout Paradise, the previous renditions of Need for Speed: Under Ground and is it all open game? Are you going for that big open world feel too?
Well there is 150 miles of drivable terrain, how big is Paradise?
(Suf: Well of the top of my head I can't remember, but is it bigger than the NFS games?)
(Xandu: Paradise city has an area of 26 square miles, and approximately 218 miles of roads. Scale and
speed makes a big difference to how big a game area feels.)
Yes, as the name suggests, Tri-City, you do have three areas that are each a similar size to each other and these are joined by stretches of highway. It is the biggest NFS yet!
Q: Rock Star are releasing Midnight Club LA, is this seen as your competition or are they different types of game play, though driving games, what have you got that they don't, What makes NFS: Undercover game play unique?
Yes and no. They are different types of game, they are a different franchise. In NFS: Undercover you are the hero, and you are doing the fantastic, you are either running from the cops or gaining bounty to unlock more of the game, it's not all race, race, race. You do heroic driving and heroic escapes away from the cops and also not trying to be found out by the gangs you infiltrate.
Q: Will you have Track creation, customisable gaming events and cars?
We are still working on that, as we don't want to have the issues that say Paradise had where someone creates an impossible race, which only the creator of that race can win. We are trying to see if we can fix that problem, so that does not happen. And the cars are based on real ones so there is no changing them?
Q: How many people can you have on-line, the number seems to be growing in this generation to 16 players? Is there an on-line Co-op mode?
No, we stuck to 8 players for racing, but we have team play and a game mode called Cop vs. Robbers, which is 4 vs. 4, were the robbers collect bounty and take it back to their safe house dotted around the map, while the cops chase them and try to take them out and prevent them from getting to their safe house's.
Q: Any plans for supporting the game post release? For example by adding new play areas, game modes, cars, etc.
Yes but we are not sure what that will be yet, some stuff we can't talk about.
Suf: Thank you for your time and I am looking forward to its release, what is the street date for NFS: Undercover for the UK and Asia?
November 18 2008?
"Before they fired it up! And John Doyle's home for 2 days"
Q: Do you have a handicap in this game similar to Burnout Revenge?
Yes we call it Glue, it's something that changes as you race, if you do mess up you will not get first, but you might get second or third, but we also use it to keep the player more involved with the AI and vise versa.
Q: I played the demo and it seemed to pause as it loaded the next part of the map, sometimes putting me in the air while it loaded and I also noticed a lot of Pop-up, I assume this is because it is a demo, will this still be in the final game, and when jumping through the map to do events the loading time was a bit long?
Yes, this will be sorted when we final, as we have to place parts of the game in the right parts of the disk, and we will optimise it so you will not see any Pop-up, or pauses.
Again thank you for your time, John Doyle.
Look out for the next interview with Tom Farrer Producer of Mirror's Edge which will be posted in a couple of days.