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Call of Duty: Finest Hour Interview

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| Action in Gaming | Posted: Aug 4, 2004 4:00 am

1. This is the second Call of Duty title, but first on the console systems. What has been the biggest hurdle in getting the game in tact from PC to the Xbox and PS2? What is the biggest difference between the two games?

Call of Duty: Finest Hour is a completely new game developed from the ground up specifically for console systems. Everything from code to art to design to player control was created new for this game in order to maximize the experience for the PS2, Xbox, and Game Cube. Our goal is to create a Call to Duty that plays like a dedicated console game rather than a PC port because it IS a dedicated console game, not a PC port. The biggest challenge that we have faced is ensuring that Finest Hour provides a game experience on the consoles that delivers all of the intensity and massive battle sequences the player expects from a Call of Duty game while breaking new ground with all new missions, all new characters, many new weapons and vehicles, and a host of new game play experiences including sound and an original musical score.

2. The PC game focused around three main characters from very different backgrounds. Will the console version focus around these characters, and if not what units can players expect to play as during the single player campaign?

Like the PC version, Finest Hour tells the story of World War II through the eyes of American, British, and Russian soldiers. In the console versions, however, the scope of characters is much broader. While the player will take on the more familiar roles of the American GI or British PPA Commando, we've also expanded the roster to include entirely new and different perspectives such as a Russian Female Sniper or an African-American Tanker from the famed 761st Battalion. Finest Hour players will have an opportunity to experience the war in ways that they never have before, and through the eyes of a greater variety of participants, both civilian and soldier.

3.It was announced during E3 that you will be using Jim Henson Animations with Finest Hour, can you explain exactly what that means for the realism side of the game and how it will improve the title as opposed to the earlier PC game?

In addition to providing the epic and cinematic feel of war that is the hallmark of Call of Duty, we wanted to extend the experience so that console players could get to know the kind of citizen soldiers who fought the war. The Henson Digital Performance System provides us with a solution for maximizing the performance of facial animations. We took advantage of Henson's years of artistic and technical experience to bring to life all of the characters in Finest Hour. In the past, what has taken us months to painstakingly create with a team of 15+ animators working solely on lip-synch and facial expression, we have now been able to accomplish in just a matter of days - to a greater quality level, and with very modest technical support. It is one of the most efficient and high quality processes we've ever put to use in our games. I'm a huge fan!

4.What battlefields of World War II will Finest Hour focus on? Will it be the same as the PC game, or can players expect to see a whole range of new locations to battle in?

Players of Finest Hour will find many new locations where they will continue the struggle against Nazi Germany on three fronts - Eastern, Western, and North African. Since Stanlingrad was such a pivotal point in the war, marking the first major resistance to the Nazi regime and the first major defeat to Hitler's army, we have been compelled to revisit parts of Stalingrad, though we will do so in a series of all-new missions, telling altogether different stories of those who fought. Players will find fresh challenges in all new locations by fighting as a British PPA Commando against Rommel's Afrika Korps in North Africa or as an American GI in the wintry hell that was the Battle of the Bulge, and the push to take the fight against the Nazis right into Germany itself.

5. Will the game feature online play and if so can players expect to see console unique features such as Xbox Live 3.0 for the Xbox version. What will the online play entail, game modes etc?

Finest Hour will take advantage of broadband connectivity to feature online multiplayer via on both PS2 and Xbox. Both versions will allow players to test each others' skills in a number of exciting multiplayer game modes. We are not ready to disclose the final details quite yet.

6. Stalingrad in the PC title was one of the most intense levels seen yet in a WW II first person shooter. Can players expect that same level of intensity or due to the lower power of the consoles have you had to cut down a little of the atmosphere and intensity produced in the PC title?

Call of Duty on PC redefined first person action by putting players in the middle of the most intense battles of World War II, and we're proud that we're able to continue that trend in Call of Duty: Finest Hour. The cinematic intensity of war is a centerpiece of any Call of Duty title and Finest Hour is no exception. In the Stalingrad that Finest Hour players will experience, for example, we've been able to pack in over two hundred soldiers onscreen at once and deliver the same level of intensity and overwhelming chaos of battle - it's every bit the epic that PC players enjoyed, but this time in a play experience that is created ground-up for the console.

7. Besides a new single player campaign, is there anything else new from the PC version such as extra multiplayer game modes or even single player game modes?

While the core game play mechanics are similar, everything about Finest Hour is new. For instance, roughly half the missions involve vehicles. This kind of game play is new to Call of Duty and makes an exciting addition to the brand. However, nothing is abandoned from Call of Duty. Though we aren't releasing details on multiplayer yet, rest assured that online play is just as much a part of Finest Hour for PS2 and Xbox as it was for the PC.

8. Finest Hour uses renderware. What changes will this mean for the console version of the game. Will this mean the graphics won't be as impressive or is it the complete opposite and allowing you to do more with the game?

The Renderware solution allowed the team to create assets for one platform knowing that they would be usable for the others, and to start creating these assets and game play from a very early point in development. Though each console version is being tuned to take advantage of that console's technical strengths, the content of the campaigns will be the same across each console. In this way, the team was not distracted by the need to create multiple versions of the game. They were able to maintain their focus on making Finest Hour great.

What I can tell you, is that is that the graphics in Finest Hour are tremendous. We have some of the most detailed, wide-open, glorious vistas I've seen in any game. I am more proud of the look of this game than any I've worked on before. Stalingrad, as an example, is simply breathtaking, and whether or not we attribute this quality bar to what we're able to do with Renderware, the combination of the action we're able to get taking place on screen, along with outstanding environments and effects, is truly inspiring. I can't wait for everyone to see it.

9. How much input is Infinity Ward having on the game. Are they just advising you or are they actually much more involved in the process?

While the teams share the same Call of Duty goals, they work independently. Spark Unlimited, the developer for Finest Hour, set out with the goal of creating an exciting and new title in the Call of Duty brand specifically designed for consoles. In developing an outstanding PC title, Infinity Ward's greatest contribution to Finest Hour was to provide a high water mark for first-person action games and inspire Spark to continue in their footsteps.

10. Finally what do you see as the main advantage of the console versions over the PC and is there anything you wish to say about the game which we haven't covered thus far?

Finest Hour is a unique and separate experience from the PC version. It has all new levels, stories, characters, and game play created and tuned specifically to play on the consoles. It stands apart as an extension of the brand and brings Call of Duty to a broader console audience. We expect PC players to find a familiar, but completely new and challenging game in the console version. However, anyone will be able to enjoy Finest Hour regardless of whether or not he has played the PC version.

 

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