By Nick Authenrieth
In previous weeks, we've given readers special glimpses at the Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer video game, set to release on June 15, the same day as the film. So far we've covered the enemies fans will encounter throughout the game as well as the powers gamers will utilize to take care of business. Thanks to Paul Weaver, Senior Producer at Visual Concepts, we've been able to shed some light on the blockbuster game.
Now, we're whisking you away to a variety of exotic locales as we explore the levels from Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer the Video Game; again with some help from Paul Weaver. From the ice caves of the Himalayas to the streets of New York, there is plenty to get excited about. "All of the levels had their own unique feel and the team worked hard to make sure that each one was completely different from the others," says Weaver.
"A ton of research was done so the team would have a great understanding of the universe these characters existed in," notes Weaver. "It helped greatly for us to have our Lead Conceptual Artist also being a huge Marvel fan and he basically became our 'Living Encyclopedia' as we developed the game." This research is apparent from the stunning visuals of the Skrull lair, home to one of the game's most awesome boss enemies, the Super Skrull. "The Super Skrull is leading an army of Skrulls who are mining energy from the Earth's core, so we have a mixture of volcanic tunnels and caverns that are slowly being populated with Skrull architecture," explains Weaver.
The streets of New York and Shanghai also provide a unique backdrop to some incredible fights, whether against a nameless alien menace or Dr. Doom's aptly named Doom-bots. And no action-packed game would be complete without a locked-down military base swarming with robots. What's the best part about all that beautiful scenery, you ask? Why, tearing it to pieces, of course. "The game world is a very interactive experience and almost anything can be picked up, smashed, thrown or otherwise used as a weapon," adds Weaver.
"The Fantastic Four will travel to Red Ghost's space station as they search for more clues to the whereabouts of the Silver Surfer and then to the Himalayas where they think they will find him, but instead happen upon an ancient monastery [which is] guarding a dark and terrible secret," says Weaver. And you thought your mother telling you not to snoop around strange monasteries in the Himalayas was just her being overprotective.
Every level is filled with dangerous pitfalls and obstacles unique to the individual characters. Group-based action games like FF: RotSS can sometimes become repetitive due to their linear nature. But this game, Weaver is happy to tell us, is an exception. "We're following a guided story, but that's not to say that it's a linear experience," says Weaver. "The levels have been designed so that players have multiple ways to solve puzzles and can focus on whichever character is their favorite--with that, it opens up an awful lot of re-playability and experimentation as players solve puzzles their own way. The goal was to allow the player to create their own experience inside the levels. This really shines through during multiplayer."
No matter which platform you game on, Visual concepts has you covered. And there's no need to worry about playing some half-rate scaled down version of the game if you're not on the next-gen bandwagon yet. Each game was specifically designed for the unique requirements of each system. "We really wanted to focus on making a true next-generation experience for the 360 and PlayStation 3 and not just 'port' a PlayStation 2 and Xbox version
as we feel that hurts everyone in the long run," says Weaver, "Instead, we partnered with Seven Studios and let them concentrate on making a unique experience for PlayStation 2, Wii and the DS, while we focused on the 360 and PS3. It was a tremendous relationship with the major hurdle for both groups being time, however, it only intensified the passions of both parties and we're very proud of the results."
And if you're a gamer who likes to sniff out unlockable content like an airport security dog, these levels are simply teeming with cool stuff to find. "We won't go into details, but there are opportunities to find alternative costumes for the characters which bestow additional powers and benefits on the team. Each level has a host of hidden items and areas to find," hints Weaver.
"In making these choices, we wanted to provide a rich, interesting adventure for players of the game and we believe we've definitely achieved that with the range of exciting locales that the team visit in their travels around (and above) Earth," notes Weaver. So there you have it folks. It's getting more and more difficult to find a reason NOT to play this game. So when June 15 rolls around, and it's coming on fast, be sure to pick up your copy of Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. Whether that's before or after you go to the theater to see the movie, is a choice you'll have to make, Marvel fans. No one said it would be easy.