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Experience EA’s greed first-hand…


…along with its Lust, Gluttony, Wrath and the other five circles of Hell you’ll play through in EA Redwood Shores’ Dante’s Inferno. Play spoke to the game’s producer, Jonathan Knight, about how happy he is to be going through Hell at work.

Play: Dead Space was the biggest ‘dark horse’ of last year. Is EA Redwood Shores hoping for a similar reception for Dante’s Inferno?
Jonathan Knight: I certainly would be pleased as punch with the kind of critical reception that Dead Space has gotten. Obviously, it’s an extremely high quality game, and everyone hopes for just one of those in their career. In some ways this is the next game from that studio, and in some ways we’ve got a bit of a tougher hill to climb now because expectations have been set with Dead Space. But I’m pretty confident that we’re gonna nail it. Although we try not to get too focussed on what’s going to happen when it comes out because there’s a long time between now and then, so we just obviously want it to be really good. We’re very, very aware that people pay a lot of money for these games and that expectations are high, as they should be. So we’re gonna try to knock it outta the park.

Dante’s Inferno is being touted by many as the next title from the people that brought us Dead Space, but you’re actually two different teams within the same studio, right?
That’s accurate, yeah. We sit right next to each other. There are some people that were on Dead Space on the game. We do share resources, we do share the same engine, the same leadership, but this is definitely the Dante’s Inferno team and they’re definitely the Dead Space team.

Would you agree that Dante’s Inferno, along with Dead Space, represents something of a new direction for EA?
I think that’s fair, but I would also say though that EA Redwood Shores not that long ago did The Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King, a licence product but also a very well received third-person, hack ‘n’ slash action-adventure. There’s people on our team that worked on that game so I do feel that we’re carrying forward our own tradition in the genre. But I get that it’s not what people immediately think of when they think EA.

Have you and other long-serving EA employees itching to make something grittier for a while?
Yeah, that’s completely fair. It’s no secret that I worked on The Sims for five years. I had a great time on that franchise with some of the most creative, intelligent people you’d ever want to work with, and I loved it. But after a while as a creative force you want to branch out and I’ve been playing hack-‘n’-slash games for years now, dreaming of being able to make one. And it looks like the dream is coming true.
EA’s been really good – certainly in my case – at identifying creative leaders and saying “let’s let them do what they want to do”. Great products come from teams of very passionate people that have a strong idea of what they want to do and desperately want it to be good, and I think EA’s figured out how to support those people and get behind them. So I wouldn’t say it’s a strategy to do more violent, more edgy games; it’s more a strategy to back the people that want to do that.

There are few things edgier than a detailed depiction of medieval Hell. Have you managed to gross yourselves out yet?
In a word, yes. We can’t really talk about some of the stuff that’s beyond Limbo, but you can imagine we’ve had a good time designing Lust and Gluttony and Greed… we definitely want some of those moments where you almost have to look away but you can’t stop. I think people expect that from a game about Hell.

For the rest of this interview, plus a disturbing exposé on EA’s links with the real-life Church Of Satan, get issue 180 of Play, on sale 11 June.

Seriously though, EA and the Church Of Satan are in no way affiliated with each other, at least not that we know of, but we have uncovered a pretty freaky coincidence involving the two. See for yourself in Play.

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