It’s been a cult movie staple for over 15 years but, from Friday, you’ll be able to interact with Mr Pink, Mr White, Nice Guy Eddie and the rest of Quentin Tarantino’s be-suited robbers as Eidos launches Reservoir Dogs, the game.
Attendees of the EIEF were treated to a special preview on Tuesday by members of the Volatile Games development team.
Dressed appropriately in black suits, Ben Fisher and Ian Pestridge delivered a presentation that was every bit as slick and sharp as they game they have designed.
Fisher conceded that Reservoir Dogs was perhaps not an obvious choice of movie for a game version. It is dialogue heavy, there’s a lot of characterisation and only a few main locations. On the other hand there are excellent elements on which to build a good gaming experience; a heist, tons of gunplay, dramatic escapes and multiple different points of view.
So, what’s it like?
From the start Reservoir Dogs is a smart, hip game. From its snappy animated menus to its sleek black, white and red colour scheme, the whole look and feel of the menus echoes the retro stylings of the movie.
Each level is preceded by a recreation of a classic scene. A total of 15 minutes of movie time was recreated digitally, complete with the razor-sharp dialogue for which Tarantino became famous. The recreations set the tone beautifully before players are thrown into a variety of violent situations from which they must escape to progress to the next level.
We said the graphics were realistic but so is the dialogue and each level is accompanied by excerpts, with each character having over 200 lines.
The team demonstrated Level 1, a ‘shoot-em-up’ with Mr Blue’s escape from the heist. In superbly realistically rendered animation, the player must exit the scene of the failed heist as cops close in. So far, so standard ‘shoot-em-up’, but there is a twist. The development team has included different styles of play so you can choose to just go bananas and shoot everybody (the psycho approach) or you can negotiate, barter or just intimidate your way out of the situation (the professional approach). This addition adds variety and depth to the gaming experience; in fact Ben Fisher reckoned it’s possible to complete the entire game without firing a single bullet. The game rates your style at the end of each level and cleverly adjusts to respond to your approach, allowing you to invent your own reservoir dog.
So what about variety?
The game remains faithful to the Tarantino ‘universe’ but it would have been very linear and predictable if they had just followed the movie. Instead they have taken elements from the movie and developed additional material. Thus players can engage in the escape from the heist, take part in car chases and go to places only mentioned in passing in the movie. The team has created individual timelines for all the characters for the whole 24 hours of the movie and players can chop around, moving back and forwards in time, from one event to another.
The new material has been thoroughly researched to fit with the look and feel of the original. As Fisher pointed out, Tarantino has never directed a car chase so they were careful to draw inspiration from the sort of 70’s movies (like Vanishing Point) that would have influenced him.
This approach includes the music. Eidos licensed all the original music from the film but more was required to fit the length of the game. Some was written in-house and additional tracks were licensed including some stupendously funky 70’s driving music to accompany the car chase.
And what about that ear cutting scene?
Reservoir Dogs the game would hardly have been complete without the single most (in)famous scene from the film, the ear cutting scene. Sure enough, it is in there and, yes, you can cut off the cop’s ear (though it’s not obligatory, especially if you are playing pro style). However, Fisher was quick to point out, the team chose to carry this out in the style of the movie so the camera cuts away as the event happens allowing your imagination to do the work, just like Tarantino did.
There’s no doubt, Eidos and the Volatile Games team have gone to a lot of trouble to craft a game that’s true to the spirit of the original movie. They have lovingly recreated the atmosphere and the music but have had the imagination to extend the world beyond that in the movie to provide a rich and varied gaming experience. The multi-style mode of playing adds further depth and dimension making the game play differently every time. The whole package is as imaginative and witty as the original, play it and you’re bound to be spouting Tarantino-esque dialog for months to come.