There are landmarks and you'll definitely recognize the city you're in. We took 22,000 photographs of New York City and many hours of 7.1 surround sound-compatible recordings, so the first point to make is we're really keen to do New York City 'right'.
We are really happy with the sheer density and bustling nature of our game world. We're talking hundreds of cars, thousands of pedestrians - so when things start to explode you really get the impression the world is caving in around you.
Importantly though, we're not trying to recreate a slavish replica of NYC like what you may find on Google maps. This is NOT a simulation game because if you're going to include, for example, an alleyway, then you'd better have something fun to do in that alleyway or otherwise it needs to be cut. Hence we're going for a slightly modified vision of the city that builds in more action-per-square-foot than all of our previous efforts at city building.
The city will be open to the player at all times, perhaps with the exception of Mission 1, where we gently introduce the player to Alex's powers first.
Come on, then: spill about Alex's powers...
Alex under a system we call 'Deceive and Destroy'. At any point, in any mission, we want the player to feel completely free to use any tactic they want to when engaging enemies and situations. Through one of Alex's shape-shifting abilities, which is to consume and become anyone in New York City, he gains their physical appearance, memories, and in some cases, their special abilities almost instantly. You now get to mix and match how you play a mission and decide whether you want to unleash hell via explosive action or use deception and shape-shifting to sneak your way into a scenario. Some players will lean more heavily on the action approach since this is an action game; others will use disguise more since it's a great tool to evade unwanted attention and give your enemies the slip. In many missions, you'll find yourself using both approaches at different stages.
The offensive and defensive shape-shifting abilities then add another layer of choice to the gamer, plus we've really beefed up the concept of traditional power progression. The goal is to make players feel extremely powerful from the start of the game, while correctly balancing the enemy threat so that you're always on edge and feeling challenged. The devastation that any one of these powers can cause is pretty spectacular - this is not a Tekken one-on-one fight, this is one man taking out 20 elite soldiers with a single killer move. One of our favorite things to do in the office recently is see how many moves we can pull off while descending from a high jump. Our top QA tester can actually jump off a skyscraper, fire off two RPG shells into a tank below, and then pull off the hammer-fist 'elbow drop' to decimate the tank in about 4 seconds. We're going to actually record him doing it just to show gamers what's possible with our mix and match combat system. It's pretty intense stuff.
On Tuesday: Part 2...