By Nick Authenrieth
These days, blockbuster movies like Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer are almost guaranteed to be released with a video game counterpart to enhance and expand the experience of seeing your favorite characters brought to life. "Our relationship with Fox has been superlative," says Paul Weaver, Senior Producer for Visual Concepts, developers of the Rise of the Silver Surfer video game. "They provided quick and incisive feedback at all times and kept us up to date with script changes as and when they occurred. The core team also got to spend time with Tim Story and the writers of the movie to brainstorm ideas that definitely cross-pollinated across the two mediums. The team also got to visit the movie sets on numerous occasions and were given full access to all pre-production artwork, 3D models and special effects information." Published by 2K Games and available on Xbox 360, PS3, PS2, Wii and DS, Rise of the Silver Surfer hits stores June 15, the same day as the film.
Relying on each of the four members' unique abilities, players can smash, crash and bash their way through fully destructible environments. That kind of freedom is going to be nice, because this game is chock full of nasty enemies and players will need their breathing room to maneuver. Unsurprisingly, the bane of the Fantastic Four's existence--Dr. Doom--makes life extremely difficult (as usual) for players. And new enemy on the block Silver Surfer is sure to provide players with some incredible visuals as well as unique gameplay opportunities. "We wanted to make a rich, varied experience for the fans and chose villains who are both some of the most infamous bad guys the Fantastic Four have faced, but they also had to fit within our plot line," adds Weaver.
Gaining a leg up on its motion picture counterpart, Rise of the Silver Surfer The Video Game offers players the chance to go toe-to-toe with enemies who aren't in the feature film. "This was one of the most exciting parts of pre-production for the team," notes Weaver. "The Fantastic Four has such a rich history of villains that we had a hard time choosing who the team would face off against. Our initial thought process involved the central story of our game and how it would work with the film. During pre-production, this was led by a core group of Leads (Production, Design and Art) who worked together intensively hammering on the storyline and seeing which villains provided the best balance between being technically achievable, recognizable and workable within the game's fiction."
The Skrulls, a race taken straight from the pages of the comics, get paid a visit on their home planet by the FF, a decision that brought some unique opportunities. "The Super Skrull actually exhibits all of the Fantastic Four's powers," explains Weaver. "He has a stretch attack, he flies, he can launch huge energy and firebomb attacks, turn invisible and cause a shock-wave by slamming his fist into the ground. However, he's also an incredibly cool boss and so we HAD to get him in the game at all costs." Himalayan rock monsters, whether in their more vicious humanoid form (complete with rock-sword arms and shurikens) or their simpler pile-of-granite look, throw around some serious weight.
Ivan Kragoff, former cosmonaut and current psychopath going by the name Red Ghost brings an unwelcome element to the battlefield in the form of his army of intelligent Super Apes. "We think the bad guys that the players will have the most fun fighting are Red Ghost's Super Apes," says an excited Weaver. "His space station is a dark, creepy place punctuated by the noise of his monkeys and gorillas screeching through the corridors. When you finally get the chance to fight them, it's hard not to get a big grin to come across your face!" Digging even deeper into the Galactus storyline than the movie, developers give comic fans a chance to fight another cosmic-powered herald of Galactus, Terrax the Tamer. With a giant axe and a penchant for manipulating rocks, Terrax is a formidable foe.
"One of the thing's we're happiest with is the overall art direction of the game," says Weaver. "While we paid careful attention to make sure our characters matched their actor likenesses (we used 3-D full body and head scans for all of the major actors in the movie), we also wanted to make sure that we looked like a video game too, not a photo-real world. We didn't think that's the right approach for the license, so we ended up using a very stylized look for the Fantastic Four which we then applied as a benchmark to everything else going into the game - With regards to our enemies, we thought long and hard about how they would work if they belonged in the movie universe and brainstormed whether they would be CG creations (Super Skrull) or played by an actual actor (Red Ghost). The end result is something which we call 'unity of effect.' The characters, the villains, the environments and even the game objects all looking great, but more importantly looking like they belong in the same world together."
So after you see the movie and your thirst for intergalactic justice hasn't been quenched, pop in your copy of Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer - The Video Game and go to town on this bevy of brand-new baddies!