Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Watchmen: The End is Nigh

I tried out the PS3 demo of this video game prequel to Watchmen, but, before I get into my impressions, I thought I'd post some insightful excerpts from an interview with Jerry Pritchard, associate producer for Warner Bros. Games, from the 2/17 episode of GameSpot's "The HotSpot" audio podcast:

GameSpot: So, you're dealing with a property that a whole lot of people love, and I'm sure you're keenly aware of the pressure put on you by that. But, on top of that, you're also expanding it. You're adding to the mythos of the story and expanding on these characters that people feel they know in very concrete terms. How do you even start to deal with that kind of pressure to take one step and decide, "Well, this is what we can do with it"?

Jerry Pritchard: We looked at very realistic terms. We understand the fans' concerns, and we're fans ourselves, and we really push hard to go at it with the right mindset of "We are really making this game for fans and people who are familiar with the materials," but, also, we kept in mind that there are going to be some new fans who will see the movie and go, "Wow, Watchmen is just amazing, and I want to know more about this universe and these characters." So what we did in the game was we really took what was known--known entities of the properties and the characters--and we simply just went straight to the source. We went straight to the filmmakers and to the original graphic novel guys, as well as to DC, and we said, "Hey, we want to delve deeper into the Watchmen universe and the Watchmen characters, and what can you guys do to help make that a reality?" What we ended up with was a really rich tale of the past adventures of Rorschach and Nite Owl as partners, and I believe that anyone who's a fan of the graphic novel, and soon to be of the film, will really look at what we've presented and go, "Wow, this is just great because, not only am I experiencing stuff that I already know, but there's stuff in there that I didn't know previously."

GameSpot: Now, you mention the "original graphic novel guys." I'm assuming that you're excluding Alan Moore from that?

Jerry Pritchard: Um, well, we did work with several of the original creators, but some people chose not--you know, some people weren't approached and whatnot.

GameSpot: Was Dave Gibbons involved?

Jerry Pritchard: Absolutely. Dave Gibbons assisted us on many levels, with some art direction and other services.

"Several of the original creators," eh? Perhaps colorist John Higgins was involved?

'Nuff said, you might think after reading that, but, actually, the demo is a miserable failure based just on its shallow and repetitive gameplay. It's an exceedingly simple yet clunky 3-D beat 'em up, where players fight their way through a prison cell block, then turn a corner and cross a yard to the next identical cell block, in order to fight through an identical set of prison hooligans and pull an identical set of levers. You might think that even a downloadable game should at least have enough content to fill out a demo, but literally that exact process repeats about four times before the screen suddenly explodes into a text box beckoning players to purchase the full $20 game.

Alan Moore must be rolling in his grave right about now.

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