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Interviews

City of the Dead

We munch on the brains of Alex Trowers, lead designer on the first instalment in the George A. Romero series of videogames

For anyone coming to the party late, City of the Dead is a zombie-fest being handled by developer Kuju Entertainment that's the first title to emerge from the collaboration between Hip Interactive and 'Zombies' movie director genius George A. Romero.

Events in the game kick off when four desperate survivors escape a ravaged zombie infested city by helicopter. After making it to the remote island of Isla Mortal, an accident destroys their only means of escape. Unbeknown to them the island is home to a top secret military installation, overrun by the walking dead. Armed with an arsenal of traditional and futuristic weaponry, players must battle the living dead from dusk 'till dawn in series of abandoned locales.

Lead designer Alex Trowers tells us more...

We're really pleased to see City of the Dead, but tell us - why now, and why zombies?

Alex Trowers: Zombies are fun. You can do all sorts of terrible things to them with fewer moral consequences than if you were to attempt this stuff on regular humans.

Has George Romero had much say in the game's development. Or is he just lending his name to it?

Alex Trowers: George has full approval over the story. There are George-based titbits in the game, but I'm going to let his fans find them out for themselves.

Tell us a little about the game and what we will be expected to do?

Alex Trowers: The game itself is a complete action experience. It's all about killing zombies in interesting ways, racking up huge combos and high scores, and above all, having fun. It's very bold, brash and in your face. It's one of the goriest games made!

Will the zombies be slow and shuffling, or fast and speeding?

Alex Trowers: We know what zombie fans are like - many prefer their undead a little less athletic. For the most part, the zombies are your classic can't-outrun-a-snail type. Some concessions have been made for the sake of gameplay, however, and we've introduced one or two variations that are able to close the gap on the player and provide him with a little more threat.

Will we only be able to kill zombies with the classic 'head shot', then?

Alex Trowers: Yeah, zombies only die if their brain is destroyed. For the most par this means head shots, but the use of Havok physics enables us to use anything as a weapon. A zombie can be killed if he hits his head on the wall or if a piece of debris strikes his head. As far as weapons goes, we have pistols (dual-wield of course), shotguns (manual pump-action and semi-automatic), machine gunes, sniper rifles, spearguns, riot guns and you can even bolt on a shovel for use as an impromptu melee weapon.

At first glance, COTD looks like a cousin of the House of the Dead and Resident Evil games. Is it going to be completely different?

Alex Trowers: I'd say we'd be considerably closer to the House of the Dead. But that's where the similarities end. Our non-scripted gameplay ensures that the game is different every time. The player's progress is determined by his acquired skill rather than simply remembering attack patterns.

We've read that the multiplayer games will see human versus zombie fights. How will the game be affected when we're playing as a zombie? And also, when we're playing as a zombie, do we get the chance to infect other players?

Alex Trowers: Most definitely. The fun part comes just after the bite itself when the newly-infected player has to convince his team-mates that it was, in fact just a scratch and he'll be fine in a minute so that they don't blow his head off. His movement eventually changes to that of a zombie - slow and shuffling - and his ability to use his weapon is entirely hampered. His focus becomes one of feeding on his former team-mates and his bite infects others.

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