Interviews

Saints Row 2

Interview: On PS3, GTA and all that customisation

Saints Row 2 is taking on GTA. With customisation, a solid co-op mode and Tera Patrick on its side, Voltition's series has got a good chance of attracting the fans put off the genre by GTA IV's more gritty approach.

Alright, it's not going to beat Rockstar at the bank any time soon, but when we sat down with producer Dan Sutton he did a good job of talking up the game's strengths - mainly its massive amounts of customisation - and we reckon it's definitely got a strong position alongside the genre titans of this generation. You might even love it.

Here's what he had to say on tackling the PS3 and creating controversy on Wii.

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This is the first time you've shown Saints Row on PS3. The last game was announced then canned for PS3 - how has the development situation on PS3 changed since then?

Sutton: In Saints Row 1 we got about half way through the process and then we realised that we just couldn't get our heads around the Cell technology. It's just really complicated and I'm sure you noticed other games like Stranglehold push their dates up.

The biggest thing was we just hired a PS3 dedicated team. There's a really, really large team on there and they got through all the issues we had on Saints Row 1. Now we're up to showing PS3 at the same level and only one day behind the Xbox, which is really exciting for us.

The biggest problems were just getting our heads around the technology. Cell's really, really powerful. The problem is it's also a really different system, the way it uses multi-threading technology. It was really hard for us to wrap our heads around and we got to the point where we were like, 'if we're going to release it it's going to be way too late'.

Do you think the industry's finally got it's head around the PS3 technology now then?

Sutton: I think it's closing. There are still difficulties on it, I think you still see some games push out their PlayStation ports a little bit later.

I think now the support's there at least - we've had many conversations with Sony trying to get our heads around that. We see PlayStation-only bugs pop up.

There are Xbox only bugs too, but the problem is those PlayStation-only bugs are so complicated and Sony didn't have the support to help us out during the Saints Row 1 development. But now we have that support and it's really exciting.

You mentioned you've got a dedicated PlayStation team on board. What does this mean for platform-specific features on the console?

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Sutton: There aren't many differences. They're basically a one-to-one parody but the only thing we did was add SixAxis support for planes, jet skis and helicopters. Beyond that it's one-to-one basically. We don't have any special things, we're not giving any exclusives to Xbox or PlayStation right now.

Coming back to the game, what lessons did you learn from the first Saints Row?

Sutton: The biggest complaint that we had as a team was not being able to do stuff besides four-wheeled vehicles. The streaming technology back then was pretty good but I think you saw stuff like 'buggy Saints Row' video comes out and we realised that we had to re-do our streaming system. We really wanted to go vertical in this one, we wanted to let you fly planes and helicopters.

That was one of the biggest challenges in this one, we had to re-write our system and re-write our engine so that it could support different types of streaming technologies. So you can actually get above and look at the world below you all rendered. You can't have these holes in the world that we were able to mask up in Saints Row 1.

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