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Battlestations: Midway Preview

publisher: Eidos Interactive
developer: Eidos Interactive
genre: Strategy

PIV 1800, 512MB RAM, nVidia GeForce4 series video card
ESRB rating: T

release date: Jan 30, 07
» All About Battlestations: Midway on ActionTrip

Recently, we managed to contact Eidos Interactive to confirm how Battlestations: Midway, their latest WWII-inspired vehicular action game is coming along. From what we've gathered, the game appears to have several rather promising traits that could make it an interesting experience, especially for gamers who are after multiplayer shooters such as Battlefield. Unlike Battlefield, this one focuses strictly on vehicles and features massive naval and aerial battles. "Massive" is really the key for this game.

So will Battlestations be the Battlefield killer, or is it just another hopeful?

Action Trip: Please, introduce yourself and some of the crucial people working on Battlestations: Midway.

Eidos: The guys answering these questions for you are Rephyx (one of the Lead Designers on the game) and Klaude (Producer and now Head of Eidos Hungary) but everyone involved is crucial to delivery; from the development team, to QA, to language translators, to the staff looking after finance, right through to the retailers who will eventually bring you the game. Making a game is a team effort: everyone plays an important part. But if I have to choose just 2 or 3 people for you, I'll mention Zsolt Nyulaski (who first thought of Midway), Robert Sugar (who put the company together that initiated the project), and Akos Somfai (who led the programming team from start to finish).

Action Trip: From what we've seen thus far, Battlestations: Midway seems like an ambitious project. What's the main idea behind the game?

Eidos: Our idea was to recreate the World War II Pacific setting and somehow deliver the huge-scale naval and aerial battles of that time. A big part of that objective was to give you control over the entire fleet: from tactical decisions to direct control of the fighting forces.

Action Trip: What can players hope to find in the single-player portion of the game? What makes it exciting?

Eidos: The single-player campaign takes you through the first critical months of the war, from the Attack on Pearl Harbor to the Battle of Midway. You start out in the role of a captain, rapidly climbing up the ranks: really, a piece of a deus ex machina to make sure you can reasonably be given more and more units to command, from tiny patrol boats to huge battleships and aircraft carriers. At the Battle of Midway, you will have a sizeable fleet to command, with a wide range of options - and, of course, you can jump into any unit at any given time. You also play 'challenge' missions, where you test your skills in more difficult situations and most excitingly play the Japanese side of the fight.

Action Trip: What types of land and air vehicles are available in Battlestations: Midway?

Eidos: We have 24 different types of planes, including the most important warbirds of the first part of the war. Just two examples are the SBD Dauntless dive bomber, which was vital to the US victory at Midway, and the Zero fighter, probably the key fighter for Japan's forces. You cannot control land vehicles in the game, although you do see them. Instead of land vehicles, you get to maneuver massive fighting ships from that period. Right up to the largest battleship ever constructed.

Action Trip: Give us more information on the engine you guys are using for the game.

Eidos: The engine was developed in Hungary and has dozens of significant features, specifically tailored for battles at sea. Our requirement was (apart from rendering visually impressive scenes) to handle instant jumps from air to underwater vehicles - which you'll be able to do in a split second. Meanwhile we're looking to maintain a steady frame-rate even with the unit detail (such as crew, trees, etc.). We had to be able to render dozens of planes in the air, ships and underwater vessels, as well as islands. This was a challenge, seeing as each individual unit is made from thousands of polygons and features high-resolution textures (normal and specula mappings, etc.). Plus, we've put in animated sub-parts and additional features like advanced aerodynamics for the planes.

We pay attention to the islands, so the engine features perspective shadows and skeletal animation for crew members on land bases (and ships). Also, we have a foliage system for displaying hundreds of trees. All this is, basically, a must have for any game that recreates WWII naval warfare. The highly detailed ocean surface consists of many parts (waves, foam, translucency, reflection, etc). When the action everything starts, the engine pushes a lot of particles, simply because in Midway you don't control one man with one gun, you control several warships and warbirds, all of which are equipped with dozens, if not hundreds, of long-ranged high-power weaponry.

Action Trip: The official web site of the game mentions innovative online multiplayer gameplay. Players will be challenged to command massive fleets and take direct control of over 60 different warships, planes and submarines - all in real-time. How exactly does this work?

Eidos: You are always controlling one of your units, for example, a battleship or a fighter squadron. You can drive or fly it, use all of its abilities, fire all the guns, drop bombs or launch torpedoes, engage in dogfights, etc. Switching units is very simple, just press the D-pad or the switch unit key on PC, and you will be transferred to the next controllable unit on your side. You can also look at a friendly unit and instantly jump into it, by pressing the appropriate key. So, you can switch from your submarine to your fighter plane's seat in a jiffy. On the tactical map you can overview the situation and assign units to your teammates: one player is may act as a commander, assigning units and orders, while the others are commanding the units directly, flying as pilots or being ship/submarine captains. Although the battles involve teamwork, players are awarded individual skills for their unit of choice.

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