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Jeôme Antona of Wanadoo

Interview - Gestalt grabs his multi-pass for a behind the scenes look at New York Race

It's over four years now since French director Luc Besson's wild sci-fi movie The Fifth Element burst on to our screens, but with the release of New York Race next week on PC and PS2, gamers will be getting a second bite at the cherry. We spoke to the game's producer Jeôme Antona to find out more.

Welcome back to the world of The Fifth Element

You Have One Point Left On Your License

Rather than simply rehashing the movie in digital form, Wanadoo, Kalisto and Gaumont opted for a more liberal approach to adapting The Fifth Element as a game this time round. "Gaumont decided to launch another big production by focusing on the values which made the film a real success: the content and the creative part", Jeôme explained. "We [chose to] focus on the specific scene where Korben Dallas drives his taxi as it appears to be a key issue, and an unforgettable moment for viewers." "The advantage of a strong movie license like The Fifth Element is that everyone knows about the film and remembers that famous taxi scene. The whole universe allowed us to create a game which will immerse the players back into the film. However, we didn't want to make a copy of the movie, but to create a real extension of the movie. The challenge was to develop a game with real interactivity rather than to focus only on the scenario." "Gaumont let us develop the game as we wanted with two requests in mind: to recreate and enrich the movie's universe as imagined by Luc Besson, and to develop a game which would distinguish itself from the usual license games you see in terms of gameplay. The challenge was to make this game faithful to the spirit of the movie - although we used the same universe and its components, we also added new elements needed for the gameplay, like mobile obstacles or specific settings for the circuits."

Just like in the movie .. well, almost

Big Bad-a-boom

The involvement of Gaumont also meant that the developers could call on the expertise of members of the team which designed the movie's stunning settings in the first place, making the game feel that much more authentic. "The designers of the game got their inspiration from all the designs and graphics of the movie they had access to, and had the opportunity to talk with Patrice Garcia and Hélène Giraud, two of the film's designers. It's always interesting to work closely with people who made a movie: you learn where they get their inspiration from and you see the movie with a new eye." The result is, according to Jeôme, "real brand new gameplay in a well known universe", and this is what Wanadoo hope will make New York Race stand out from the many other sci-fi racing games coming up in the next few months or already available. "We benefit from a famous license, but New York Race also features the famous real 3D dive, which was at the origin of the game's originality and enables you to increase your speed up to 500km/h. Finally, the opportunity to play on-line on the PC version with up to eight players is a key factor of success compared to competitors."

Conclusion

New York Race is perhaps a little lacking in longevity, but it's a stylish and entertaining arcade racer. Jeôme certainly seems happy with the outcome, telling us that "the game turned out just as we expected, it's very fast and fun to play". Indeed, when we asked if there was anything he would have done different in hindsight, Jeôme had only one regret. "Although she is not in the game, it would have been fun to motion capture Milla Jovovich!"

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New York Race review

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