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Blacksite

Interview: Lead designer abducted by aliens

Blacksite faces some harsh competition when arrives on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC later this year.

Like most of Midway's upcoming titles it utilises the top-tier tech from the gaming toy box, including Stranglehold's excellent Massive D system, which lets you smash the environment into tiny, flinging chunks of plaster.

It's also got the ever popular Unreal Engine 3 powering it along, and marine dialogue written by Gears of War scribe Susan O'Conner.

Plenty to pique or interest then, but with Bioshock, The Darkness and some shooter from Microsoft also arriving in the next few months, is it really worth a look in? Lead campaign designer Ricardo Bare twists our arm...

Zoom

What has the reaction been like to the Xbox 360 demo and what have you learnt from the feedback?

Bare: The reaction has been really positive. We've received a lot of downloads so far; I think we're the third or fourth most downloaded demo ever so far, so that's really good news.

Every once in a while you see players do things that you didn't catch, so there's little bugs that we've caught as a result of that.

We're still yet to see the PlayStation 3 version up and running...

Bare: We're planning on releasing on PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 simultaneously but the Xbox 360 is the development platform from the start. We're a way further along than the other two platforms.

I'm not on the team that's doing the PS3 work but I know all of the content is going to be the same. I don't know what've got planned with the SixAxis though unfortunately.

You will see a PS3 demo. The first demo was like a teaser. Some people expect a whole level but all we intended to do was give you a teaser; give you a little taste of what the game was like. But the next release we have will be a full-blown demo with multiplayer and everything, and it will be on 360 and PS3.

Any ETA on that?

Bare: It'll probably be around the time we ship in September.

How do the squad controls work?

Bare: It's all based on one button. One of our goals for the game was to make a really fast-paced action title, but we also wanted a squad as part of the game. With a fast-paced game we couldn't do a Ghost Recon-style system with 14 different commands, so we decided to do a really quick, light-weight, one-button system.

Most of the time the commands you're giving are going to be 'move here, take cover over here, attack this guy', but every so often you can command your guy to a turret, tell them to get in to a vehicle. Or as you saw in the demo, there's parts when your squad mate's in a chopper and you can order him to attack targets down below.

Zoom

Where does the squad moral system fit in?

Bare: We added the moral feature to inject even more of a sense of drama. If you're doing badly they'll yell for assistance and blind fire more. If you're doing really well they'll talk a bunch of smack; it makes the fights more interesting.

Are there situations where your teammates are a bit too high spirited, and running in Rambo-style?

Bare: They player can always override with his own commands, so if you do see them charging off you can call them back. It's still work in progress, we're going to have to tune it a lot. Hopefully they won't do anything stupid.

So are they just mindless AI buddies or do they actually have a back story?

Bare: Oh definitely. Each character has a well-developed identity and they play a role in the fiction. So you've got you four squad mates; the hotshot, super-aggressive macho guy who's there to shoot stuff - I think he's the funniest, he often makes comments about stuff.

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