While it might not be attached to a big name publisher and didn't enjoy the same high profile as some of Sony and Microsoft's games at E3, Possession was one of the first true next-gen games to cause a media ruck.
A few months back the first details and images of this intriguing title popped up as if from nowhere, and proudly proclaimed their next-gen status. But it wasn't just the fact that Blitz Games' latest project (the UK-based developer also worked on Bad Boys II and Xbox multiplayer game Fuzion Frenzy, and is currently developing "an all action shoot 'em up and driving title based on a cult 90s movie'... hmm) could be appearing on PS3 and Xbox 360 that excited. It was also the premise.
Casting you as a demonic zombie enslaver who can create and command slavering hordes of zombies, Possession doesn't just turn the survival horror genre on its head - it snaps its neck, pulls its limbs out of their sockets, and chucks the torso out the window. As Nick Dixon, design manager on Possession, told us, "This is not survival horror. You are the horror and the city has to survive you."
Set in a city that, according to Blitz, measures 8 kilometers long and 6 kilometers wide, Possession finally gives you the chance to live out those twisted zombie dreams. How? Well, we sat down with Nick over a nice bowl of brains to dissect exactly why Possession is a new dawn of the dead...
And once you're done, head here for our full hands-on playtest with the game.
Before we get into the game mechanics, let's talk about Possession's storyline. We love how you're flipping the survival horror thing on its head, but what's the plot background?
Nick Dixon: The story begins with our lead character, a human male, discovering that a US corporation has been experimenting on dead soldiers from overseas conflicts. They've been shipped back to the States, but never laid to rest in the cemetery. He himself is an ex-soldier so he takes this quite personally and decides to blow the whistle and take the Corporation down.
But he doesn't make it out of the building. He's captured, and during the intro sequence we see him being mutated through a process of horrific experimentation into this character called The Enslaver. Embued with terrifying new powers, he then escapes the Corporation's labs and gets out into the city. His aim is to reach the Corporation's HQ right at the north end of the city and destroy it, but to do that he'll have to use the power he has been granted - the ability to raise and command the dead.
Tell us more about The Enslaver and how Possession messes with the player's expectations of the survival horror genre.
Nick Dixon: Well, we wanted The Enslaver to be very brutal, but we've shied away from giving him ranged weapons because we didn't think that was in keeping with the character. We explain at the very beginning that he's against firearms, but that doesn't mean he's a pacifist! You see, when he gets out into the city his whole belief system has been twisted. Where before he wanted to free the citizens of the city from the shackles of the corporation, he still wants to do that - only now he's liberating them by killing them and turning them into zombies!
So would you pin down Possession as an action game where you take out your enemies with The Enslaver, or an RTS where you overcome the opoosition using your zombie army?