15th Jun 2006 | 12:36
Quentin Tarantino's violent silver screen classic Reservoir Dogs is shortly to bring its bank heist malarkey to the videogame party in full-on ear slicing glory. Reservoir Dogs, the game, is being developed by Volatile Games for PC, PS2 and Xbox and is due this September. It's an adaptation of Tarantino's movie as opposed to a direct carbon copy, and although the game does re-create many of the film's memorable scenes it focuses more heavily on events that occur outside of those portrayed in the flick. But what else to expect? We caught up with project manager Dave Manuel to find out...
It's been a while since Tarantino's seminal film now - why did you decide to base a game on Dogs after so much time has passed?
Dave Manuel: Because Tarantino's debut, Reservoir Dogs has become a cult classic and we were keen to take up the challenge of turning this into a videogame.
As with the film, the plot in the Reservoir Dogs game is presented out of chronological sequence. What unique challenges does this throw up in terms of ensuring the storyline remains coherent during play?
Dave Manuel: The game is also out of chronological sequence but it doesn't follow the exact order of events as presented in the film. We have focused on events outside the film. We spent a lot of time coming to an appropriate order for the levels which took into account the narrative and the pacing of the game. Also we recreated scenes from the film as FMV as this helped to cement the game and the film in terms of storyline.
Yeah, in the game, players will experience events only hinted at, as opposed to portrayed, in the movie. It'd be great if you could elaborate on this, and provide details on some of these 'unseen' events players will experience...?
Dave Manuel: Famously, a large part of the film takes place in a warehouse following the events of the heist. This is clearly not a viable setting for a game, although the warehouse does provide the setting for most of the re-created 'classic scenes' that feature throughout the game. For the game, we have primarily focused on the events that take place immediately after the heist from each character's perspective: The fate of Mr Blue; Blonde's kidnap of Marvin; Pink's retrieval of the diamonds; White escorting Orange back to the warehouse; Brown's getaway from the Heist; and what Nice Guy Eddie got up to when Blonde was so chillingly left alone with Marvin.
These scenarios plus others will be presented to the player across a variety of LA locations, some of which have been faithfully recreated and others which can only now be experienced .It should also be pointed out that at no point in the game do we see the actual heist itself - we felt that this was one unseen event that should not be shown.
Is the game purely action-/combat-focussed?
Dave Manuel: It can be if the player so chooses to take this approach, however it's also entirely possible to play through the game without engaging in any combat. In fact, it's possible to complete the game without killing anyone at all. This also applies to the driving missions where you can focus either on quick skilful driving or adopt a more trigger-happy approach if you so wish.
How are you incorporating the famous 'ear' scene?
Dave Manuel: As most fans will be aware, the movie features a wealth of memorable scenes and dialogue that define the film's iconic status. We were very keen to recreate a number of these scenes to help sustain the flavour of the film and to provide a way of stitching together the non-chronological game missions with the storyline. I think the ear-cutting scene was top of everyone's list of memorable moments and features prominently in the game providing the backdrop to the vehicle dumping missions.
Reservoir dogs was emotionally intense - is this something you're planning to emulate in the game and, if so, how are you getting this across to the player?
Dave Manuel: The experience of watching a linear non-action film and playing an interactive action game will naturally be different. We believe the player will find the missions we have created intense whether they are shooting their way through, trying to keep things under control or driving under pressure. One of our core design goals was to convey a sense of continued 'knife-edge' tension throughout all the escape missions.
The mechanics and controls enable the player to exercise substantial will over all of the characters they encounter, but not without a sense of continued risk and danger - frightened civilians will run for alarms, hostages will faint on you if pushed too far, cops will call for backup when under threat, holding a hostage will not stop you being shot in the back and don't assume that a cop won't try and pick up his weapon if he thinks you're going to do a Mr Blonde on him. All of these things can flip a situation from order to chaos, but by mastering the controls and learning the behaviour of the characters the player will be able to manage even the most volatile of situations if they can keep their cool under pressure.
Another goal was to actually make the player think about the consequences of their actions. Most games present killing as a fairly inconsequential act conveying the intended victims as faceless and unimportant. In Reservoir Dogs, we wanted to ensure that all of our characters (who encompass a broad range of age, colour, job and gender) are conveyed as real people and thus any act of violence committed will feel like it carries a weight of responsibility. At no point in the game does the player ever have to kill and as a consequence, the player will not only be making decisions based on gameplay, but also according to their own morality.
Is Quentin Tarantino involved in any capacity?
Dave Manuel: We discussed the project with his agent but Tarantino declined to become involved with the project.
We understand that players will view events from the perspective of each of the six main characters involved. Presumably this means we'll be playing as the six different characters - if so, what unique gameplay styles does each character offer?
Dave Manuel: The variety in the gameplay affecting each of the main characters is more about the situation they find themselves in as opposed to any 'special powers' that each might have. The unique traits of each character are conveyed through dialogue - particularly during acts of threatening and violence and this approach is arguably more important and appropriate, particularly given the nature of the film.
What is apparent in the film is the disparity between each character's criminal 'philosophy' - the Professional approach versus the Psycho approach. However, rather than force a particular style on each character (e.g. Blonde always being psychotic), we felt that it was far more important to offer freedom of choice at all times, thus enabling the player (and not the developer) to decide how each of the unseen events from the film was going to pan out. It should be noted however that each character does have a unique Signature Move - an extreme crowd control technique that's not for the faint hearted.
Reservoir Dog gameplay features Psycho/Professional Rating system, Threat System and Bullet Festival have been 'bigged up'. We'd love to get gameplay examples of these in operation...?
Dave Manuel: The Pro/Psycho rating system monitors how you play the game according to your morality or 'philosophy'. The game tracks every situation and character that you encounter and records how you dealt with it. The player that decides to shoot their way through indiscriminately will be assigned a high Psycho rating. The player that minimises casualties and relies on threat rather than violence will be assigned a high Professional rating.
The 'threat system' encompasses a range of new controls that enable the player to manipulate and control any character they wish. Civilians are easier to manipulate than cops, with the mere brandishing of a gun enough to make a civilian compliant. More leverage will be required when dealing with cops, however taking a hostage should be persuasion enough. In terms of the mechanics, the player will be able to order characters to do a variety of things: freeze, get down on their knees, move around and unlock doors. When dealing specifically with cops, the player will also have the option of disarming them and interrupting them when calling for backup.
The Bullet Festival is linked to the player's adrenaline which increases over the course of a mission, as and when the player places themselves in tense or dangerous situations. With a full quota of adrenaline the player will be able to replicate the mind state experience by Mr Blonde in the heist and rapidly shoot a large number of targets in quick succession to lethal effect.
Any plans for co-op or multiplayer?
Dave Manuel: There were initially plans for this, however we wanted to concentrate on the single-player experience, making it deeper and replayable rather than spreading ourselves too thin as some games try to do.