Hi. I’m JP, one of the writers on Vanquish. Normally, I fill a role as translator; however, on Vanquish, I also wrote some scenes in the script, added in most of the naming/jargon, and tried to bring that PG flavor to the script.
Approaching the story to Vanquish was an interesting endeavor. It isn’t often that you sit in a room with the directors of Resident Evil and Code Veronica and get asked your opinion about the story. One of these points was the opposing force in the game. Our initial candidate was China, but ultimately we went with the Russians. I’ve noticed some people on the net claim that Russia is clichéd as an enemy force, but it really is the only logical conclusion. Vanquish is based on an extension of our current world into the future, so the original plan of a Chinese enemy makes very little sense. China owns most of the United States debt, and the US buys most of China’s manufactured goods. When there is money to be made, people tend to find ways not to fight. Russia, on the other hand, makes perfect sense. Over half of all Russian exports to the US are petroleum products, so in a resource crunch, the economic ties that bind Russia to the US would be severed, allowing them to attack. After all, all wars are essentially about resource control.
Another reason I really pushed for Russia as an enemy is because I really enjoy the pseudo-Cold War nostalgia that nation-on-nation conflicts, especially with Russia, brings about. It’s got that great G.I. Joe sense of good guys taking on bad guys, which plays directly into the style of dialogue we were going for in Vanquish. In essence, Vanquish is tinged with parody, but not the point of being overt. I read a review that said, “It’s hard to tell whether it is taking the piss or not, which in itself may well be the intention.” Many of the dialogue lines in Vanquish are way over-the-top, but then again, you are talking about a group of super-powered space marines attacking a colony the size of a small city in space. I think it would be incredibly strange if they played things overly straight faced, so why not have fun with things? Why not make the characters aware of not only the ridiculousness of the situation, but also the varied cultural influences that lead to the creation of a game like Vanquish. My intent, at least with the English script, was not fan service, but rather making sure the game never forgets what it is – a game. There are plenty of companies working towards the serious. We never forget we are making games. I love that. As that same review said, “We weren’t sure if we were laughing at it, or with it, but we were definitely laughing.” Perfect.
That being said, Vanquish is a bit serious. When I first went through the completed script outline, I realized that what Hiroki Kato, our lead script writer, had come up with was ultimately a morality tale on the frailty of one’s best intentions. All of the characters in Vanquish are rough around the edges, with motivations that conflict with the idealized world they are striving to create. If you read into it a bit, it draws many parallels with the attacks French philosopher Voltaire launched against fellow philosopher Gottfried Leibniz and his concept of optimism. While I don’t think Kato-san explicitly set out with Voltaire in mind, it was nice to be able to strengthen these parallels in some of the naming and situations in the game. I hope you all have fun trying to find these references.
Finally, a bit on the English voice acting in the game: I was incredibly privileged to work with top notch people across the board on the English script. It is always fun to be the dumbest one in the room, because you have so many people to look up to. From my editor on the script, Alexander O. Smith, to our voice director, Kris Zimmerman (of Bayonetta and Metal Gear Solid fame), to our incredibly talented cast, it was an awesome experience working with everyone. It isn’t often you can bring Gideon Emery (Sam), Steve Blum (Burns), Marc Worden (Zaitsev), Kari Wahlgren (Elena), Lee Meriweather (Winters), and Benito Martinez (Candide) together on one project, but we were able to pull it off, and got some amazing performances as a result. We also realize that many of you want to play in your native languages, so we’ve included Japanese, French, Italian, German, and Spanish voices as well. I know there are plenty of fans with a preset bias towards the Japanese language track for whatever reason, but I really urge you to set aside your biases and try out the game in your native language. English was the lead language on Vanquish, but all of the languages were equally important to us, so don’t dismiss things as a “dub”, because you will just end up missing out on some great performances by some really talented actors. Mikami-san has already spoken about how much he loves Gideon’s voice as Sam, and I am a huge fan of Japanese voice actor’s performance for Zaitsev. For a little bit of fun, here are my favorite outtakes from the studio:
I’m really looking forward to hearing what you all have to say about the game, so say hi to me on Twitter (@pg_jp) or hit up our message boards at http://forums.platinumgames.com/ and let us know what you think!
Tagged: Alexander O. Smith, Benito Martinez, Gideon Emery, Hiroki Kato, JP Kellams, Kari Wahlgren, Kris Zimmerman, Lee Meriweather, Marc Worden, Narrative Design, Outtakes, PlatinumGames, Playstation 3, PS3, SEGA, Shinji Mikami, Soundelux, Steve Blum, Story, Vanquish, Voice Outtakes, Xbox 360