Electronic Arts has released the Hollywood cast for its upcoming real-time strategy game, Command & Conquer 3 Tiberium Wars. The lineup includes Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica), Josh Holloway (LOST), Michael Ironside (Starship Troopers), Billy Dee Williams (Star Wars), Grace Park (Battlestar Galactica), Ivana Bozilovic (Wedding Crashers), Shauntay Hinton (former Miss USA), and Joe Kucan, who's reprising his role as Kane. The game also includes real-life reporters John Huck (Fox) and Shannon Cook (CNN) as in-game journalists reporting on the game's events. Mike Verdu, executive producer on C&C 3, took some time to talk about the casting news.
Can you talk about what Hollywood actors bring to the story-telling of this game?
Our very talented cast is bringing the characters, story, and game world for Command & Conquer 3 Tiberium Wars (C&C 3) to life in a way that computer generated characters simply can't. The C&C 3 story is rich, layered, and has a depth that is unusual for the real-time strategy genre.
For example, Billy Dee Williams plays a politician thrust onto the world stage during the ultimate crisis, a man who must wrestle with deep insecurities and character flaws that become increasingly visible as the pressure on him mounts. Josh Holloway plays an elite military planner who has never actually confronted the death and destruction resulting from the very operations he plans; when he is forced to come face to face with the horrors of war, he gains a new level of empathy and understanding that leads to a character defining moment. Tricia Helfer plays the conflicted second-in-command of a stateless superpower, a new hybrid of terrorist organization, religion, and nation-state; she draws you into her own worldview to the point where you may well feel sympathy for this character who is ruthless and evil in the conventional sense but has a strong sense of honor and duty within her own twisted frame of reference.
These are three of the six principal roles; all of the major characters experience some degree of profound growth, transformation, or a shift in perspective as the story progresses.
How have you seen Hollywood talent change or become more open to videogame acting jobs over the years?
We have seen an increased interest in videogame roles over the years. While we were casting for C&C 3, we found the majority of the talent to be quite receptive to the idea of a live action role in our game—and a number of the actors were pleasantly surprised at the depth of the story and dimension to the character's roles.
Can you talk about the production values of these live action sequences and how producing/directing these compared to traditional film or TV shows?
The production values are quite high—principal photography took place on multiple stages with several large physical sets. These sets will be extended with CG in post-production to give the locations a sense of scale (for example, some important scenes take place inside a vast futuristic temple filled with high tech machinery, religious iconography, and a score of acolytes—some who were filmed as extras on the set and others who are being added in post-production). The live action scenes will also be intercut with full-screen high-end CG sequences such as a full scale air assault on a future version of Vancouver, the destruction of a huge orbiting space station with a nuclear missile, and a furious battle between two high tech armies, among others.
What does high definition bring to gaming?
There is no question that high fidelity visuals make our games much more immersive. The new generation of hardware currently rolling out for consoles and PCs alike is allowing us to create stunning in-game visuals that you need a high definition display to appreciate. In the case of C&C 3, there is an added bonus: Our live action and high-end CG sequences can be played in high definition... and they look so much better that way.
Can you talk about the depth of storytelling that games can tackle today?
Game stories are growing in sophistication and depth, and with C&C 3, we're attempting to stretch a little bit and make something that pushes the boundaries. As I've discussed above, our characters are complex and go through changes as the story progresses. The game is a satisfying military science fiction spectacle with a future world war as the backdrop for its story, but the story itself has layers and tackles some big themes: Who has the legitimate power to rule—and to order the death of others—in a democracy where the elected leaders have been killed? What costs and collateral damage are acceptable in winning a global war against a terrible adversary? And for the second campaign where you turn the tables and play the enemy that you fought in the first campaign, what does it really mean to choose the dark path in a video game?
Can you talk about the use of real news anchors in this game?
Our narrative is punctuated by segments of news footage from a future cable and satellite network that give the events in our story an epic scale and at the same time create a sense of urgency and immediacy. As the player, you might be watching an intimate scene between characters played by members of our principal cast in one sequence and then seeing the far reaching consequences of your actions through the eyes of reporters on location."