|System: X360, PS3, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: InXile||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Codemasters||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: TBA||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Pending||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Pete Richards
July 25, 2008 - With the release of GTA IV now months past, the release of other sandbox-style action games is inevitable, as other companies look to capitalize on players who have already beaten the game and may be looking for a new city to wreak havoc in. Saints Row 2 will hit stores this October and the all-new Hei$t, from developer inXile and publisher Codemasters, has already established some high expectations from action gamers when it's released on September 1, 2008 for the PS3, 360, and PC.
Hoping to make a big impact on the action gaming market, inXile is making a few attempts to set Hei$t apart from other games like it. As you may already know, the game takes place in scenic San Francisco during the height of the hippie movement in 1969, and recently released trailers and screenshots give a good idea of the type of retro environments you'll be working in. inXile is promising it'll be full of interesting characters, wardrobes, classic cars, and some of the best rock music from the era, with all the violence, gunfire, and missions you would expect from a game of its sort.
"We designed Hei$t so that players feel like a part of the best robberies and car chases from classic movies," Maxx Kaufman, Creative Director at inXile, said in a press release. "Everything from the different types of jobs to pull and the reckless pursuits by the police through the streets of San Francisco, to the sarcastic banter back and forth between the members of the crew, gives Hei$t the action and style of the great attitude and rock-driven films of the 60's."
And like vintage caper films of the late '60s, your mission is to become one of the greatest bank robbers of all-time, playing as the notorious Johnny Sutton. In a GTA-like format, you'll have to pull off a series of assignments throughout the city, which will eventually lead to the robbery of the San Francisco Mint to perpetuate your family's long legacy of being one of the most infamous and unstoppable gang of criminals in history.
Though bank security in 1969 is not what it is today, the world of Hei$t does feature armed security guards, alarms, hard-to-crack safes, and skilled police officers who shoot to kill. Cracking into the vaults of some of the best banks in the Bay Area won't be a simple assignment. You'll begin at some of the smaller, less protected joints to get your feet wet and eventually work your way up to some of the most secure banks in the city. As you begin your robbing-spree, you'll need help from your team of criminals, as the game will also feature a level of squad-based gameplay. Each character will have their own attributes that will help you pull off missions successfully and discretely, to avoid increasing your infamy rating and making future heists more difficult. Johnny's Uncle Sal is the go-to guy to gain information on your target bank, so you can plan your robbery with blueprints, maps, and other important details to ensure things go as smoothly as possible. When breaking, entering, and escaping heists, Johnny will also need the help of teammates to join him on the mission. Cracker is the safe and locksmith specialist, Crumb is the ruthless muscle and shooting man whose weapon of choice is a shotgun, and the deceptively-named Kid is an older man who stays behind the wheel to ensure a swift and expert escape. You'll be controlling Johnny, though the ways you will be able to command your crew will bring a completely new element to this kind of game.
When you enter a targeted bank after strategic planning, you'll be able to literally tell Crumb and Cracker what you want them to do and where to position themselves. Not only can you give button commands, with a microphone you'll be able to voice-command your teammates to carry out your mission. Additionally, you'll be able to customize different voice commands to your liking; when you wish to prompt your fellow goons to do things like mind the security guards during a holdup or begin cracking the safe. But, perhaps the most fun part of this feature is the fully customizable stickup announcement; to make people hit the deck. In other words, you'll be able to make it full of expletives if you wish or a simply humorous or lighthearted gesture. Additionally, your crewmembers' A.I. can also be affected by your voice commands, which can either help or hinder current and future heists. For example, because Crumb is a bit of a hothead, he may be a tad rough with hostages at times and you will be able to command him to settle down. On the same token, if he or one of your other buddies does a good job, you will be able to reward him with a compliment, so he remembers to handle the situation similarly next time.
When you first enter a bank, the atmosphere will be quite surreal in the calm, quiet lobby, though you are aware of the level of anticipation of the chaos you're about to cause. As you announce that this is indeed a stickup, patrons will cower and security guards will look to stop you as discretely as possible, without making you or your crew resort to violence. How you handle the situation will impact your infamy rating, which determines how easily you will be able to pull off capers in the future. If you're notorious for blowing people away in the midst of robbery, don't expect crowds during your next bank jobs to be so very complacent, as some may panic and security guards may try to stop you.