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Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Buffy The Vampire Slayer 2 : Chaos Bleed - Greg Goodrich Interview

Saturday 13 September 2003, by isa

Jason MacIsaac @Play caught up with Greg Goodrich, vice-president and executive producer at Vivendi Universal Games, to find out what people can expect from the latest Buffy title, Buffy the Vampire Slayer 2: Chaos Bleeds. The game, for Nintendo GameCube, Sony Playstation 2 and Microsoft Xbox, hits store shelves August 26.

Q: Give us the lowdown on the new playable characters in Buffy 2, and the new moves they can do.

A: In Chaos Bleeds, Buffy and her friends have a whole host of new moves and combinations. More than twice the amount of the first game. We’ve also added new weapons and items, ranged abilities and combat magic. Along with the ability to play as six different characters in the single player game alone, the amount of new stuff is well beyond anything we’ve ever done before.

When you add in the multiplayer component and the ability to unlock up to 24 different playable characters, both good and evil, the number of different gameplay dynamics is staggering. But for Buffy and her friends specifically, the six main characters all have different abilities and strengths. Faith, also a Slayer, has a very similar skill set as Buffy. Both Faith and Buffy start the game with all of their moves available from the start. At any time the player is able to consult the slayer handbook (from within the game) to learn how to accomplish the moves and combinations.

Spike is a vampire and although in the game he’s a bit more powerful than Buffy and Faith (and possesses almost as many moves), he relies mostly on his fists and is certainly not as graceful as the slayers when attacking.

We took the most liberty with Xander’s abilities. In the beginning of the development process we tried to stay true to his character, but he just wasn’t that fun to play, so we made some changes. Although he’s still a bit slower than the rest of the playable characters, (and is certainly not as capable as the rest) we always make sure there are plenty of weapons available when Xander is around. I actually enjoy playing Xander quite a bit, especially with the baseball bat.

As for Sid, he’s a three-foot ventriloquist’s dummy. You can only guess what his abilities are. However, when he finally gets his flamethrower half way through the game, watch out!

Q: Willow is another playable character. And we’re told she uses magic. Can you give us an idea of how this will work?

A: Willow utilizes a combat magic system, and like the Slayers, carries a handbook that instructs the player how to cast each spell. In Willow’s case however, she will gain skills and magic abilities as the game progresses. Willow starts the game with a basic shockwave attack (a punch infused with magical energy) and a fireball spell for ranged combat. In the first level of the game Willow also learns the Sun-spell, which is quite powerful but depletes most of her magical energy when cast.

Willow is very cool to play. Eurocom just finished development on the recent Harry Potter game so they had a lot to pull from in terms of combat magic (what worked and what didn’t work). Willow definitely "works" and it’s quite fun to see her tearing through the baddies like butter with her sun-spell or her sonic blast. Willow also possesses defensive spells such as a shield spell, as well. One of her coolest spells is her ’possess enemy’ spell that allows her to "convince" would be attackers to fight on her behalf. Like I said, it’s quite cool to play Willow. Especially in multiplayer.

I have a feeling that many fans will enjoy teaming Willow and Tara together in the Team Survival multiplayer mode.

Q: Speaking of the baddies, tell us about some of the new monsters Buffy faces.

A: There are quite a few new evildoers in Chaos Bleeds. For starters we have many vampires in the game from all walks of life... err... I mean death. There are multiple classes of these vampires as well. From the standard stake-fodder to the vampire "elite" class that can cast spells not too dissimilar from Willow’s attacks.

Vampires will also utilize the weapons and throwable objects (such as Hell-fire) in the game and will actively search the out and attempt to knock weapons and items from your hands to use against you.

Beyond the vampires there are walking dead, psycho patients from the Sunnydale hospital, lycanthropic transformations such as werewolves, as well as zombies and multiple classes of demon spawn. Fans of the Buffy comic book series will also appreciate the appearance of the Bakemono (I like to call them the Japanese Demon Monkeys) and whole bunch of zombified animals that have taken control of the Sunnydale Zoo. There are also Boss characters from Buffy’s past that make an appearance as well as creations of our own. Needless to say, there is no shortage of baddies for Buffy and the gang to battle.

Q: Size wise, how does this game compare to the first?

A: As I mentioned above, there are more characters, more moves and weapons and there is most definitely more adventuring in Chaos Bleeds than ever before [in a Buffy game]. From the familiar locations around Sunnydale, to the alternate reality version of Sunnydale and the outskirts, the game is very expansive and there is plenty to explore.

Q: With six playable characters, how is the time playing them being divided up?

A: First and foremost this is Buffy’s game so she takes up about 60 per cent of the action. The remaining 40 per cent is split between the other characters.

This being said, each of the main characters has their own level that is entirely dedicated to them. Furthermore, each character has to essentially face their worst fear and complete an objective that is not only physically demanding to their character, but emotionally [draining] as well. For instance Faith must track and confront Kakistos on his own turf and finally put his reign of terror to an end. Kakistos was responsible for the horrible death of Faith’s Watcher and was the only thing she was ever afraid of.

Each character in this game has a similar obstacle. Even Buffy. The non-character specific levels work in a number of different manners. In some levels character switching is handled mid-stride, while in other instances the scoobies fight alongside each other. And in other cases you have to rely on the abilities of one another to get past an obstacle.

Q: How much dialogue was recorded for the gameplay and cutscenes? Do we get many more "Buffyisms" as we go through the game?

A: Quite a bit of dialogue was recorded for Chaos Bleeds. The story was written by fan favorite Buffy authors and comic book scribes, Christopher Golden and Tom Sniegoski. The story was written as a lost episode from season five. We’ve actually placed it between episodes 17 and 18 (shortly after the death of Joyce Summers).

Since our main enemy is also the same big bad from the final season, we did everything possible to keep it in line with the events that recently unfolded in the last year. Obviously there are a few things that slipped through the cracks (for instance, when Spike and Faith first met), but we’re pretty close. Joss Whedon, creator of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer television series, certainly wasn’t about to change the course of the show to make the game more "correct" and we weren’t privy to the final storyline when we started the game, but Chris and Tom kept us on track for the most part. If anything’s amiss it’s our fault not theirs.

The coolest thing about the story is that for people who have never seen a single episode of Buffy or have never read a Buffy comic book, the story stands on its own and is accessible to everyone. Even if you’ve never met Buffy Summers or her friends you will certainly be able to identify with these people and the problems they are facing. Chris and Tom were really respectful of the fact that first and foremost this had to be a great action adventure game and had to be available to everyone regardless of the characters. I certainly think we’ve achieved this. We’ll get the fans because we’ve just given them everything they’ve ever wanted in a Buffy game. Our goal now is to create new ones.

Q: Tell us about the different locations in the game. Are there any new Sunnydale locales to see?

A: I touched upon this briefly above, but yes, there are certainly new Sunnydale locales in the game. We’ve even gone beyond some of the familiar spots and "opened the doors" for people to explore. From the town square to the high school to the Sunnydale shopping mall, they are all included. Spike even gets to take a stroll though the Initiative Base.

Q: Have there been any changes to the save system? Having played the first game, a few of us found it frustrating to start over on levels like the Dreamer’s Realm.

A: Me too! The system is still the same but we’ve been really careful to eliminate the frustration factor and the "broken controller moments" from the first game.

We’ve made sure to include plenty of continue points in each of the levels where you would expect them to be. For example, after each character switch, puzzle completion and prior to every boss battle. Hopefully, there won’t be any thrown controllers this time around. This was a huge priority for us.

Q: Who has been the best Buffy villain of the series? Is there a team consensus on this?

A: Absolutely! And you’ll find them in the game. The second Chris and Tom included plot devices such as the "Dimensional Bleed" and "Alternate Reality" the gloves came off and we were free to do whatever we liked. This was sort of the case with the main character selection as well.

Once we opened it up characters such as Sid started to appear... and characters such as Dawn "went away to camp" and were replaced by Faith. Who in my opinion, is the most "visually spectacular" model in the game.

Q: Tell us why you think Buffy 2: Chaos Bleeds will kick ass.

A: "Will" kick ass?!? Trust me, it already does.