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Preview gaming; a lack of PG Tips; model-esque PR - just another day for the Shadowlocked team...
I should begin by saying that I’ve not worked for a games title in a long while - not since the 90's. A lot has changed in that time. I was the oldest one there by a country mile: I felt like a Dad (ok so I am). Yet, despite my timely-absence, it all felt so familiar, from the spotty teens to the ever-beautiful PR girl, accompanied by high heels that resonated both her beauty and importance. However, despite my hesistance - and somewhat lacking knowledge of the modern gaming era - her humour and 'bon vivant' personality made me feel as welcome as any of the other attendees.
The setting was the St. Martin’s Hotel - a stark location decorated in lime green and white, with giant potted plants and gold teeth for stools. However, the mood was lightened by my 'Miss World ' of a PR, and I felt safe and secure in her presence; despite the fact that she was, at a guess, at most half my age. After a short while, I was introduced to Eric Barker, studio manager at Volition, before being seated in a long-line of wide-screen monitors, ready for action.
The room itself was filled with what looked like students in some art college exhibition, and again I couldn't help but feel intimidated by these gamers, many of whom were journalists for the old titles I knew and had worked on so long ago. Sensing my trepidation, Eric was soon at my side, explaining how the game works (keep an eye out for my full review) Luckily, I had been familiar with the Red Faction franchise since its first outing - a point I was keen to tell everyone who would listen - so the combat soon came back to me. From there, I was immersed, ready and eager to pick up the story of the Mason line of Heroes and Red Faction’s fight against the EDF.
The game was loud, colourful and highly detailed; a great melange of combat that has taken the BSU (Blow Shit Up) factor to the limit. Furthermore, there really is nothing that cannot be ‘architecturally rearranged’, to quote from Republic Commando. We played the first level and I held my ground rather well, managing to keep up with my youthful cohorts.In face, Eric later pointed out that I was the only one to both finish that level, the one after and then start the third that no-one was meant to see, so take that youth of today. I was happily getting into the story - finding out about things not revealed in any video thus far - until Eric interceded, a little nervous and somewhat wary of my progression. With Eric's attention now firmly on me, all I could muster up was "It’s hard to stop"...but truth be told, it really was.
Before we knew it luncheon was served and it was a lavish buffet affair. We sat at a round table in a large, white room which, in parts, was rather disconcertingly padded in white leather. As I sat, enjoying THQ's hospitality and composing my thoughts thus far, I couldn't help but notice that the buffets beverage options was limited to either water and coke. No tea, coffee, or the hack’s drink of choice – booze - which was a shame because, as the day had progressed, I had developed a severe craving for a cup of tea. (I’m forty and it was a nice lunch - come on!)
When lunch was over, my attentitive PR consort stepped up to me and asked if I was down for an interview slot. "I’m Marcus from Shadowlocked.com" I said, trying to sound self-important, which for me seems all too easy. "Oh dear! Your name is not down, but... Marcus...Shadowlocked" - her pause offered more than mere hesitancy - "...hold that thought". Moments later, she came back to offer me a late slot and I took it instantly.
So, after a few more hours of game time, I was led by my muse-for-today to a dark elevator. After a rather awkward ride up - one in which I utterd the cliched, lift-specific phrase 'Imagine if the lift broke and we got stuck' - the doors eventually opened and I was led down a long corridor that looked like something out of Mirror’s Edge. The boys from THQ were locked away in a room that felt very Hollywood, and I was told to take a seat. Across from me, Eric was sitting on a bed, Drew (from Volition) on the sofa and a slim chap - who I assume was the PR manager - has sitting at the table.
I listened intently to the journalist before me, gaging Drew's responses whilst trying to determine how to get the most from my time. My predeccessor appeared to be from some games magazine, but as to his exact employer I could not be sure. His questions were thorough and I made notes and ticked off all the ones I was going to ask. Before long it was my turn and, after much deliberation, decided to play it right off the cuff. I spent the next half an hour or so with the boys from Volition/THQ and learnt a lot, all of which I intend to use in my upcoming review.
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