Of all the locations to host the premiere of a forthcoming game, perhaps the foruth floor of a Yacht moored in Docklands isn't one that would immediately spring to mind. But then SCi likes to do things differently, carrying on its long-held tradition of orbiting trade events in some style. Let's hope the first-person shooter it's just signed from Argonaut can provide the same kind of giddy excitement of donning shades and sipping freshly squeeezed orange juice in blazing September sunshine out on deck to talk about its latest signing.
It might be useful at this stage to discuss what Argonaut's FPS team did last to give you a bit of background on what to expect. But seeing as just a few thousand of you bothered to invest in SWAT: Global Strike Team last Christmas we have a feeling that might fall on deaf ears. That's a bit of a shame, because SWAT was actually a reasonable shooter; kind of like a fast action take on Rainbow Six, whereby you're rescuing hostages, defusing bombs, and generally kicking terrroist arse. Using a Havok-enhanced version of the same game engine, Roll Call is essentially following a similar concept of good versus evil, except this time you're a former military man trying to put an end to gang warfare; with the aid of the emergency services.
Wish you were here
The game is set in the "not too distant" future, following a year in the life of Nick Mason (taking time out from his Pink Floyd career, presumably). He returns home to find it has been "ravaged" by gang warfare and signs up with elite enforcement unit, the G18 Counter Gang Division, a crack division on a mission to secure the city and its citizens "at any cost", which generally translates to shoting a lot of grunts in the face while ordering around Paramedics, Police and the Fire Department.
As with SWAT, the game comes with full headset support, allowing you full control over officers via voice, although, in our experience, as good as voice support always sounds, it's always so much easier (and reliable) just to press the buttons required than attempting to get the CPU to understand your dulcet Barry White-after-an-Absinthe-hangover tones. And again, expect full online support for both PS2 and Xbox when the game takes its retail bow in approximately a year's time, although details are thin on the ground in this area at the moment.
From the five minutes we stood in front of the demo pod watching a very early version of the game in action, it promises to be a very action packed affair, with plenty of scripted events, explosions, and the biggest fight against gang warfare since Kingpin made its controversial journey onto shelves five years ago. SCi was keen to trumpet the use of Havok physics during the event, and as such even at this early stage in development there was plenty of opportunity to show off ragdoll effects along with scenes of barrel-related chaos. The playable section we were shown illustrated that you'll face a sucession of heroic tasks, saving the lives of firemen, civillians as well as your own city.
Burn baby burn
At this point, with only a few rudimentary scenes to show off a chaotic, burning urban environment it would be unfair to read too much into what we saw with the game fully one year from release. But if Argonaut can polish up the technical gloss of the game sufficiently then Roll Call has every chance of being building on the disaster niche that the Edgeware-based team appears to be carving for itself. The concept certainly shows promise; we'll be keeping an eye on this one and see how it progresses.