Ritual allowed me to roll into their offices for a while and do some beta testing, and I managed to escape Julie's grasp long enough to bring back some comments on the game and its development.
As most people know, Ritual has been very very quiet regarding news on their latest game, and even though I've been able to see the game in action a few times over the course of its creation, I'd never gotten to play the game myself until now. But first off, let's look at the developers themselves. I picked a variety of wacky characters from the crew, and took some pics of their desks as they feverishly finish up the last bits of the game to get it ready to ship out.
First off, I'd have to say overall, if you want to get a feel for what the game will play like, take everything good in SiN and increase it two times. There are great cinematic cutscenes, loads of interactivity and things to do, machines to operate, etc. There are also a huge variety of enemies of all types -- from the melee Swarmers to the weapon-packed Fleshbinders to big and tough boss monsters to the comical Evil Shgleiks -- and it's all bound up in a bunch of great engine enhancements.
I took a look at some of the Ritual tribe to spotlight some of the things happening in the game's final stages. These are only three of the talented crew working on all the different aspects of the game, and I wish I had the time to write up little articles on all of them... For the first team member we have Tom "ParadoX" Mustaine, who has been working on most of the cinematics in the game. He also did a lot of the maps, including the Training area, which you'll definately need to get the hang of the weaponry in the game. It's not like the Hazard Course in Half-Life, where you just learn easy skills like crouching and shooting. Oh, sure, you'll learn those here too, but you'll also have to get the hang of actually USING the secondary fire, in true combination with the primary.
A lot of the Ritual staff has moved completely to WASD-type configurations, with both mouse buttons bound to fire, as it makes for a logical physical layout. The control scheme takes a bit to get used to, and the tutorial helps, but once you do figure it out, it's easy to use and allows for about twice as much gameplay combination as UT/HL's simple dual-fire modes. Pretty much every weapon has a secondary-type fire or combo, and combining two weapons will produce different combos and attacks.
Anyway, back to Tom. Tom has put a lot of work into the game's story advancement, and you can really get into the plot with these scenes. They carry most of the important dialogue, although you can get a lot of humorous moments and interesting info by talking to pretty much every character in the game. And I'm not talking "no Gordon, I can't talk right now," I mean actual conversations. Pretty cool stuff.