Recently, I was able to sit down with some of the staff of Activision to find out a little more about their upcoming Kinect-exclusive title Wipeout: In the Zone
. The title, due out later this month, will give players a chance to experience ABC’s hit gameshow in the comfort of their own home… and it is a whole lot better than I ever expected it to be (impressions coming soon). The staff was more than happy to not only show us what the game entailed, but also sat down and answered a few questions for us regarding the title.
Check out what they had to say below:
Can you please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about the game?
I’m Matt Hohl, associate producer with Activision on Wipeout: In the Zone for Kinect. This is our Kinect game based on the hit ABC TV show Wipeout… it’s a perfect fit for the Kinect controller. It’s an obstacle course game where you run through, get beat up, get harassed by the celebrity hosts, John Anderson, John Henson, and Jill Wagner. We follow the course of the show with the John’s in the announce position, the studio, Jill interviewing players on the course, but obstacles are really the star of the show…
Do you use the actual show’s voice talent in the game?
Absolutely. They were really good sports and came out and recorded over 2,000 lines of dialog with us. We did a lot of fun stuff; we prepared a script for them and they did a lot of adlib stuff too, being professional comedians and naturally hilarious. We have a lot of great stuff in store. They make fun of you (the player), they make fun of each other… it’s a really funny game.
How does In the Zone compare to the Wipeout game released for the Nintendo Wii last year?
There are a lot of differences. The Wii version of Wipeout was primarily a side-scrolling game; we have got a much more dynamic camera system with the Kinect version. Overall it is a much bigger game. There are three times as many courses, more than double the amount of obstacles, a lot more content, it looks much better thanks to a ton of visual improvements, online leaderboards, full Xbox Live Avatar support, Avatar awards, unlockable gamerpics, and not to mention to full motion support of Kinect, which makes a huge difference. That allowed us to do full-motion Avatar animation and improve both the gameplay and presentation. You are able to actually run and jump through the course in the comfort of your living room without having to sign that 50 page waiver.
You mentioned unlockable avatar awards and gamerpics, are there any other unlockable items in the game?
First of all, players unlock new levels by beating levels in the game. There are also premade avatars based on crazy characters from across America; that is what the show is really good at, finding these crazy people from around our country. So we have made a bunch of these archetypes such the sad little emo kid, the west-coast hippie chick, your suburban, middle-class princess, blue collar southern gentleman, all types of different characters… and of course you can also play as yourself. You can unlock those avatar characters, new levels, unlockable avatar rewards like a nice life vest like they wear on the show, Wipeout branded safety helmets to keep your avatars safe, an unlockable gamerpic of Ballsey, the famous big ball mascot of Wipeout,… there is a lot of fun stuff to unlock.
The game seems to be an accurate recreation of the show, have you added any features to enhance the video game version over the original show?
Absolutely. We have added a couple of things such as rings which you can collect to reduce your time, using the Kinect motion to have you reach out and grab stuff, give you more of a secondary bonus, something to take advantage of… we have also added a lot of Kinect specific obstacles that require you to use some Kinect motions to do things like balancing, full body motion and mimic / pose stuff. We’ve got some multiplayer additions as well.
What sort of multiplayer options will be available in the game?
While we follow the formula of the show and people take turns running through the course(s), the people who are not currently running get to harass the player who is by firing projectiles at them from these tiny, little rockets that fly along the back of the screen. So, you have got three people sitting on the couch, holding the controllers, shooting the heck out of the poor person running the course. It really makes for a good time for everybody.
Will there be any online / Xbox Live support or features included in the game?
We have full leaderboard support in the game. We have gone the extra mile with our online leaderboards by providing a visual cue to go along with them. There is a metal track that runs alongside the courses, as you play the course(s) in any mode, as long as you are connected online, your closest friends’ time ahead of you is rushed alongside your character on the screen. Your friend is basically staring at you, laughing at you, as time goes by so you have to try and keep up and pass his card. Then you know that you have beaten their time on the leaderboard.
Can you explain the various game modes included in the game?
This isn’t a mini-game compilation… it’s an obstacle course / sports platformer. You have the ability to play through a whole episode with the entire “show” experience… the John’s in the studio, Jill on the course, and that is the “play the show” mode. You can play that either in single player or with up to four player multiplayer. We also have a practice mode and that is where you can pick any specific round, practice that… with active leaderboards. Let’s say that you are better at a whole episode than your friend, he keeps beating you at one round, you can go and nail that one round in practice mode and it will go and update the leaderboards as you beat it in practice.
Will we see any themes or show variations aside from the standard “episodes”?
There are a couple of themes in here. The bruiseball from season 3 is a big favorite, which is a baseball themed course. It’s a lot of fun and gives us a little bit of visual variety. We also have medieval Wipeout which is the track with the big castle that shoots projectiles down on you, which is also a lot of fun. Of course we also have the classic Wipeout Zone with the flames, lighting effects, smoking water… all that stuff.
I want to thank Matt for taking the time to both answer our questions and personally take me through a couple of gameplay sessions of the game. Look for Wipeout: In the Zone exclusively on the Xbox 360 when it releases on June 14, 2011.