Stepping into the quiet and rather calm meeting room Eidos had prepared for their presentations, it almost felt as if I was stepping into another convention entirely. It was a center of calm amidst the chaos that allowed me to sit down with the actual developers of their future lineup, and discuss what they had in store, which was a lot more than I had expected.
Just Cause (PS2, Xbox, PC)
The demonstration opened with a demo of a sprawling tropical island formed of diverse environments, such as cities, towns, jungles, and beaches, all detailed enough to feel as if it would make an ideal vacation spot... until it blows up.
Developer Avalanche are trying to take the GTA "go anywhere, do anything" formula to the next level with Just Cause, where you assume the role of a CIA agent Rico Rodriguez, sent to overthrow the drug lord / dictator of this imaginary island San Esperito. An island that consists of over twelve hundred square miles of lush terrain with no loading times in between and no areas that are simply used as a backdrop. If you can see it, you can get to it, if you have to use a car, truck, boat, submarine, helicopter, jet, or parachute to get there. Or you can just stare at the dynamically created clouds as they drift by, determined by virtual humidity.
San Esperito is more than a static backdrop for the action to take place. It is a cosmopolitan island with a diverse community, each person having their own daily life that your actions, whether it's stealing a car or inciting a firefight, will have a real impact on. Even effecting the flow of the numerous story based and side missions, where you can side with the local police, the drug cartel, or the freedom fighters that each control their own territories.
While consoles versions will have some reduced detail to maintain a steady framerate, any fog you see is a natural result of weather conditions, and the developers seemed proud they weren't using the old cheat of hiding rendering problems behind a barrier of grey. With few interiors, most of the action will take place out in the wilds or urban jungles of the island, providing the chance to see the Havok physics engine in action, or natural lightning conditions reflecting the passage of time, where twenty five minutes in the real world result in twenty five hours game time.
With a huge assortment of vehicles and weapons spread over a series of diverse missions, Rico should be getting plenty of action on this island paradise, come winter 2005.