Interview: Amuze on Headhunter: Redemption
15th Apr 2004 | 10:51
A videogame version of 120 Days of Sodom? A reference to Pasolini's notorious cinematic work isn't what we'd normally expect whilst gabbing with a games developer. But Sweden's Amuze studio, the team behind Sega's forthcoming Headhunter: Redemption, clearly isn't frightened to explore such, er, challenging territory.
Headhunter Redemption sees the return of Jack Wade and new, obligatory female sidekick Leeza, as they embark on an arcade-adventure through a rather unpleasant depiction of the future. So far so hackneyed, but fortunately the last game was very good indeed.
The director of Headhunter: Redemption - and CEO of Amuze - is John Kroknes, who explained to us just what we could expect from the latest title.
For the benefit of players who are new to Headhunter, can you give us a recap of the original game and what's happening this time round?
Kroknes: The original Headhunter was very much focused on privatised future law enforcement, with Jack Wade as the main star working as an independent Headhunter since his days at the now redundant ACN (Anti-Crime Network).
The original game was basically a big murder conspiracy leading to a disaster caused by the Bloody Mary virus. HH:R takes you 20 years into the future, after the Bloody Mary disaster and a large quake have devastated the original Headhunter world.
On the ruins of the old world, a capitalist landscape has been built and this makes up the world of Above. Criminals and misfits are sent to the colonies Below.
ACN no longer exists since most of the criminal problems have now been shuffled Below to pay back the Above society with hard labour, instead of organs.
There is, however, a big threat from the so-called Opposition, which is a terrorist network in which its main objective is to overthrow Above. Refugee inmates from Below, known as Migrants or "Migs" are the main faction in the Opposition's forces.
So what else has changed? Will this still feel familiar to people who played the last title?
Kroknes: Quite a lot has changed, but we have kept the Headhunter feel in a slightly different palette/setting. It still feels contemporary but in a more futuristic sense than the last time around. We have retained the outlandish villains, strong main characters and story fundamental to the game.
I hope people will still read the message underneath the sci-fi cloth. And last but not least, we've kept the dark humour and satire which is one of the main fundaments of the franchise.
There are a lot of new weapons this time - can you tell us about some of the more interesting or quirkier ones?
Kroknes: One of my favourite weapons is the "Blow-Out" handgun which fires silent low-impact Mini Exploder ammunition that discharges a highly explosive substance into the body of the target.
A chemical reaction starts after a few hits that results in a powerful explosion. It always feels great when you shoot five of the sticky Mini Exploder and the enemy flees away exploding after a few seconds.
How does the relationship between the two areas "Above" and "Below" work?
Kroknes: The majority of the gameplay takes place Below since it serves as the main criminal stomping grounds this time around. Since Jack suffers from a post-trauma after losing his son, he will not undertake any work Below. His extra set of hands, Leeza ends up in a big mission Below although without Jack's blessing.
So can we expect plenty of interesting problems to solve, or will most of the gameplay stem from action rather than puzzles?
John Kroknes: I would say that we have a good balance on both. However, the puzzliest bits are played thorough Leeza. Jack is still very much straight-on action and I would say it's a very action-orientated game through both characters.
Once you've finished Headhunter are there any other modes to keep you coming back for more?
Kroknes: Yes.[Don't hold back there - Ed.]
And are there any cool new moves that Jack or his sidekick Leeza can perform?
Kroknes: We have increased the range of moves and they have been designed to act fluid and dynamic during stealth and action.
What do you think of games like Manhunt that seem to be upping the ante when it comes to violence in videogames?
Kroknes: Personally, I have nothing against videogame violence. I think if there is a market for speculative violence, it's the consumer's choice if they want to buy it or not. It reminds me of myself during the 80s collecting a lot of 70s & 80s exploitation stuff on VHS mainly European from guys like Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci, Jess Franco etc.
Sadly, I still keep buying re-mastered versions on DVD but more out of a genuine geeky interest of low-budget passionately crafted flicks. Bottom line, sex and violence will always sell and I think it's down to how far we continue pushing the limits.
The violence in Cannibal Holocaust is pretty laughable today, [It still gives me nightmares - Ed.] compared to what you can find in some of the mainstream movies at the cinema. So maybe a publisher should look into getting the rights for Pasolini's The 120 days of Sodom; it still comes on pretty strong...