Miami Vice

Rebellion talks shop, cops and Colin Farrell.

This summer will see the arrival of another big screen remake of a classic TV show - namely Miami Vice, which stars Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx and is directed by none other than the creator of the original series, Michael Mann.

And, inevitably, a videogame tie-in is on the way too, so you can experience all the thrills and spills of being a maverick cop-on-the-edge with nothing to lose and everything to prove and all that sort of nonsense.

But, as we found out when we got to sit down and have a play recently, it could well shape up to be more entertaining than your average movie tie-in - and your average PSP shooter, since it's appearing on Sony's handheld exclusively and has been designed with that in mind.

We caught up with Tim Jones, head of design at Rebellion, and bashed his head against a car bonnet until he answered some of our questions about the game.

Eurogamer: Why don't the movie's stars appear in the game? Do you think gamers care much about that sort of thing?

Tim Jones: The movie star likenesses were not used due to conflicting production schedules. However, the Crockett and Tubbs character models have been created from our imagination. It would have been great to work with the actors' likenesses, but in this case it simply wasn't an option.

If the game plays well and the characters look right for the roles they're playing then I don't suppose most players will mind one way or another.

Eurogamer: Most movie tie-ins are a bit rubbish. Including, let's face it, one of your previous efforts - The Mummy. What went wrong there? What pitfalls have you been careful to avoid this time around?

Tim Jones: We were fortunate on this project that we had the freedom to design an original game that followed the spirit of the license without being constrained by it.

Sometimes when making a game based on a movie, you don't get as much time to make the title as you would like because of release dates. All you can do, apart from not take the project on in the first place, is to make the best game you can in the time.

eastbourne

It just wouldn't be the same if it was called Eastbourne Vice, would it?

Eurogamer: The movie seems to be much darker and grittier and generally more grown-up than the original TV series - and so the game is, too. Do you think Michael Mann made the right decision here? Wouldn't it be more fun if there was still an eighties theme?

Tim Jones: Think back over the glut of 80s TV series movie remakes we've been subjected to in recent years. Honestly, how many can you say were actually any good - as opposed to being crappy self-indulgent nostalgic cheese-fest cash-ins?

Given that Michael Mann has consistently provided audiences with serious, intelligent and original movies, and was the man behind the seminal Miami Vice TV series, I think it's safe to say he can be trusted to do whatever he wants with the license.

The grittier approach that Michael Mann has taken with the movie has allowed us to create a more involving and in-depth game that otherwise might not have been possible.

Eurogamer: Have you played the Davilex Miami Vice game that came out on consoles last year?

Tim Jones: I intended to play it but was unable to find a copy. Then I read the reviews and looked at the screenshots and decided it would be wiser to design our game entirely from scratch.

Eurogamer: There are six weapons in the game... Isn't this a bit limiting for a game that's mainly about shooting? Why didn't you decide to offer a wider selection?

Tim Jones: There is much much more to Miami Vice than ‘just shooting': your deep undercover mission is to bring down the organisation of an untouchable South American drug lord.

In order to succeed, you will have to build up your reputation and infiltrate in the criminal underworld by trading drugs, hacking computer data, holding your nerve against ruthless and psychotic drug barons, navigating boats around the waterways of Miami, and purchasing new clothing and weapons.

Of course, shooting plays a very significant role, but rather than putting in 30 different weapons for the sake of it, it was important to us to make sure the guns on offer are carefully tuned to be satisfying and effective and fun.

Remember also that all the weapons can be powered up with upgrades purchased from the Arms Dealer, if you've accumulated enough cash and unlocked the option in the hacking missions.

pregnant

Just a little to the right, and that man's head should pop open like a pregnant lady's waters.

Eurogamer: A lot of PSP games seem to suffer from a poor control system - how difficult have you found it to design one that works?

Tim Jones: It's not that hard if you're not trying to shoehorn a PS2 game that relies on dual analog sticks into the PSP. Since Miami Vice has been designed specifically for the PSP, we were able to tailor it to the PSP's strengths and not get hung up on the lack of a second analog stick.

Eurogamer: How does the targeting system work? It seems similar to the one in Resident Evil 4 - would you say that game has been a big influence?

Tim Jones: Certainly, Resident Evil 4 was a key inspiration behind the targeting system; it is an elegant solution to having only one stick. The player moves and turns with the analog stick, then holds the R button to enter aim-mode, at which point the analog stick controls the aiming of the gun.

Of course, it does mean the player must stop in order to shoot, but this is entirely consistent with real police procedure and with the approach used in the movie. Early on in development, we were able to watch footage of the actors being trained to use weapons and cover; it looks super-cool and the moves that they use are the same moves that players are able to use in the game.

I defy anyone to run around in the middle of a real-life shootout and manage to accurately shoot a target at the same time - it's just not possible!

Eurogamer: Is it possible to make it through the game just by running and gunning?

Tim Jones: Players will quickly discover that this technique will not get them very far. Running around outside of cover when bullets are flying will get you killed.

Eurogamer: Why introduce RPG elements, such as dealing with drug dealers and so on? Why not just make a straight shooter?

Tim Jones: There is a depth and drama to the movie and we wanted to replicate that with some innovative game play elements and to immerse the player in a gaming experience that is more than a shooter.

We wanted to bring out the tension and terror of deep undercover work, and to make the player understand the complexity of this sort of police operation.

blam

Blam blam! Blamblamblamblam! That'll learn 'em.

Eurogamer: Can you explain how the co-op mode works?

Tim Jones: All the on-foot and boat missions can be played by two players via wi-fi LAN. Honestly, it is an absolute blast seeing each other together on-screen, ducking and diving and shooting around corners - it really gives you that "buddy-cop" movie vibe in a way that I haven't encountered in the same way in games before.

Eurogamer: Why is there no competitive mode?

Tim Jones: If you really want, you are free to shoot each other in co-op mode - but isn't it nicer to be friends? It also fits in with the tight knit police ethos of backing up your partner.

Eurogamer: What sets Miami Vice apart from other shooters?

Tim Jones: Probably the fact that it isn't a straightforward shooter - there are many aspects to the game that come together to create a fresh and exciting game that will keep you coming back for more.

There is quite a lot of depth of the different aspects of the game and how they interact with each other. There are several different approaches to playing through the game, so it's very non-linear but with a strong narrative.

Eurogamer: What are your plans for the future? Do you fancy doing more PSP exclusive titles, or are you going to concentrate on next-gen stuff?

Tim Jones: Both! Our next-gen development is very exciting and looking fantastic but the PSP is a great system that has much to offer - especially when a game is designed specifically for it.

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