To say that the WWII FPS genre is a bit played out would be like saying that the Grand Theft Auto is a little controversial. Over the last four years or so gamers have seen the cliffs of Omaha Beach, the deserts of North Africa, and the ruins of Stalingrad enough times to qualify as tour guides for those parts of the world. When ÜberSoldier was announced I have to admit that I rolled my eyes a bit but further inspection of the press release indicated that we may actually have something a little different on our hands. We were lucky enough to get an interview with one of the team member of the team and we’ll let him explain what makes his game different than every other WWII game out there.
GamingNexus: Can you introduce yourself and describe your role on the project? How long have you been in the gaming industry and why did you get into game development?
My name is Maxim Volkov and I work as a designer for ÜberSoldier. I’ve been involved in multiple development aspects for the game, including creation of character sketches, scenes, scenario correction and am the guy who screams and shouts. The game industry has sucked me in from birth – I was born with Famicom gamepad in hand, and this predestined my future life. All joking aside, I’ve been in the game industry for about six years.
GamingNexus: Did you create the game’s engine from scratch or did you use an existing engine?
Maxim Volkov: We’ve used the X-Tend engine previously developed by our programmers for Kreed. After the release of Kreed we began the development of its add-on -- Kreed: The Battle For Savitar, while at the same modifying the engine for East Front (which became ÜberSoldier.) The engine itself has been altered and upgraded so much that it’s just the name that’s left from the original technology. Thanks to the engine's very stable core, we were able to devote more time to the creation of various special effects and gameplay improvements that positively affected the whole project.
GamingNexus: What was the inspiration behind the game? The WWII FPS genre is rather crowded, what makes ÜberSoldier different from the other games on the market?
Maxim Volkov: From the very beginning we wanted to create something different, and not just another “pseudo-historical WWII game” because as you have already mentioned, there’s a great number of such games these days. So, we’ve rejected the stereotypes and tried to make something unusual.
For example, we’ve tried to avoid the overused atmosphere particular to WWII games and put the stress on entertainment. Yes, the subject of WWII is extremely serious, but we make games, not documentary films. That is why when we were developing the game we focused not on the historical authenticity, but on fun. This is one of the reasons why the main character is a real (a former, though) Nazi. In general, this is more a parody of games and movies of this genre.
GamingNexus: Can you describe the plot of the game?
Maxim Volkov: Some historical events have formed the basis of the game storyline. We all know that the Nazis were interested in different occult things and conducted “fundamental” research around this tenet. For example, a special SS department, called "Anenerbe," launched an expedition to Tibet where they hoped to find traces of their great ancestors, Shambala and devil knows what else. Anyway, they didn’t find anything and returned to Germany empty-handed.
In our alternative story, the Germans found the mysterious fortress of Lhass, and discovered an ancient secret inside which let them bring the dead back to life (actually – it turns people into zombies). During all this, a German SS trooper – Karl Stoltz (the "hero" of the game) is ambushed and killed. Karl is then taken by Anenerbe scientists and re-animated at the fortress. One trick to the reanimation process is that the first person that the “resurrected” person sees becomes his master. In Karl's case, Maria Schneider, a resistance fighter, is the first person he sees, thus causing him to turn on the Germans and help the resistance fighters. To find out more, you'll need to play the game :)
GamingNexus: What kind of weapons can we expect to see in the game? Can we expect something beyond the standard pistol, rifle, shotgun, rocket launcher?
Maxim Volkov: I guess, it’s not a secret if I tell you that in the game you’ll be able to shoot from 16 different weapons. These weapons include: pistols, machine-guns, submachine-guns, stationary guns and even several others. Our armory is very diverse; don’t worry about that :)
We’ve added the Panzerschreck (the hand rocket launcher), flamethrower and a very rare antitank rifle that was produced for SS troops in extremely limited numbers (about 3000 were made if I’m not mistaken) in one of the countries of Eastern Europe in 1944.
For each weapon we’ve used high quality photos that were part of a collection from the Central Museum of the Russian Army.
As for “something beyond” then I should say that we’ve turned down fantasy features in weapons. We wanted to avoid "super photonic blast guns" that would throw off the game's balance and wouldn't fit within the timeline. Rather than spend a bunch of time designing and balancing fantasy weapons that just didn't feel right, we worked to make sure our weapons were realistic and perfectly balanced.
GamingNexus: What kind of powers will the ÜberSoldier wield? The website mentions “Temporal shield” and “Time whirling”, can you explain what these terms mean?
Maxim Volkov: After his untimely death and strange resurrection, our main character Karl Stolz has obtained the ability to control the space-time continuum (well said, ah?). So, in a nutshell, he can freeze time within a limited radius and thus stop enemy bullets. For example, you can “catch” bullets in your Temporal Shield (what we call Karl's time-stopping power), and then you can ram these bullets back into the enemy soldiers. If you have enough energy for the shield then you can “shoot” these bullets back. To charge the shield, you have to score three headshots in a certain amount of time, which is shown in a countdown timer on the HUD. It's an addictive feature that'll have you trying to capture as many bullets as you can and seeing how many opponents you can take down with them.
Karl also has the power of "Rage," which boosts his maximum health. By scoring three knife kills in a certain amount of time, Karl's maximum health is increased.
GamingNexus: Will the missions correspond with any of the historical battles or WWII?
Maxim Volkov: We wanted to avoid direct parallels with famous historical events since war is a serious thing, and we don't want to make light of it. Moreover, “Omaha Beach” or “Operation Market Garden” have already been included in 90% of the games with the same setting – we felt it was time for something new.
GamingNexus: Will you be able to drive vehicles in the game? If so can you give us a hint of what to expect in the game?
Maxim Volkov: We felt that driving would take away from the game – in our minds, if you want to drive, you play a driving game, if you want to play and FPS, you play an FPS J
However, in order to diversify the gameplay, we’ve added different small levels where the player will be able to control a submarine's weapons, fire anti-aircraft guns and go up against tanks.
GamingNexus: What is the final mission count in the game? About how long do think it will take the average gamer to complete the game
Maxim Volkov: We’ve got 12 relatively different levels that take about 11-14 hours. It's about as long as Return to Castle Wolfenstein.
GamingNexus: Are there any multiplayer modes in the game?
Maxim Volkov: We’ve decided to turn down Multiplayer from the very beginning and spend all our efforts on making a great single-player game. Who knows, multiplayer could show up in an add-on or patch, but it's not in the game right now.