We recently had a sit down with Godfather II executive producer Hunter Smith about the upcoming crime sequel and how it seems to be coming out of nowhere. Pull up a chair and grab yourself an espresso.
We haven't seen that much of the game to date. Why has it been kept so closely guarded?
Smith: Basically open world games take time to come together. When you make a level-based game you can finish one level a year ahead of time and then go around and show it to the press and then go and build the rest of the game. When you make an open-world game everything kind of comes together at the very end.
Where are you now then?
Smith: We're done.
Where does the balance lie between sandbox action and strategy in Godfather II?
Smith: Conceptually the product's 75 percent action, 25 percent strategy. As a player you have a pretty wide range of flexibility. You can decide to be pretty offensive with your guys and send them out to do a lot of things for you... or you can decide you want to do them yourself.
Just from a concept point of view around 25 percent of the time you're thinking about what you're going to do next and upgrading your guys' skills and leveraging them to your advantage. It just depends how much of action you want to get into yourself.
You can decide you want to take over all of the things [rivals' businesses] yourself and only use your guys with you or only use your guys for defence, so you can end up playing it a couple of different ways.
Might some players find the strategy aspects of the game a little intimidating or off-putting, and could they go all-out action if they wanted?
Smith: People ask me that question all the time and personally I feel like there's nothing intimidating about it. We walk you through it in terms of the game's design. When you play any open-world game you constantly go back to the map to figure out what you're going to do next.
The difference with what we're doing is that now the map's alive so that different things will change around you [based on the antics of other families].
We really did a lot to make it not intimidating nor dry and boring, so it's not so deep where you're spending hours on lots of statistics and information.
It comes to you as you're playing the action game, you'll get updates about what's going on, and you can then press the button to go to the [RTS-like] Don's view [where you oversee the entire world as you grow the family business] and make decisions if you want to, or don't pay attention to them because you're playing the game. So it can be hugely action orientated, you just have to think about what you're going to do next.
Can you tell us about the most significant updates to the series' combat system?
Smith: I think our combat experience is the best in the genre. It's a very intuitive experience. To go hand-to-hand we moved from having to lock on to everybody just to interact with them and then stick mashing to right and left controls so you really feel that you're tied into your avatar in terms of your right and left hands. We also added combos because we have the right and left experience.
Our shooting experience is completely free aim all the time. You can then lock on and move within the lock on window for headshots or knee shots or to shoot a weapon out of a guy's hand.
So we leveraged what we thought was best last time and then took it to the next level to tie you closer to the avatar, so you can still grab guys and swing them from side to side or throw them over a balcony.