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ICO interview

ICO was literally ignored at last year's E3, has in recent months garnerd a lot of attention from gaming press and the gaming public. Set to release in North America on September 25th, Playstation 2 Central had the opportunity for a Q&A session with the Producer of ICO, Darren Yager.

Mike Weatherup: After playing through the demo packaged with the Summer 2001 JamPack, it is evident that ICO is not your run of the mill adventure game. How would you describe the genre of ICO in terms of it's unique gameplay?

Darren Yager: The game definitely doesn't fit neatly in any one genre. ICO is one of the first cross-genre games to launch for the PS2 and utilizes Adventure, Action, Fighting, Strategy, Puzzle and RPG elements to create a new type of gaming experience. Gamers will definitely note the uniqueness of the title after playing the demo.

MW: What various kinds of puzzles and obstacles can gamers expect in the final build of ICO?

D.Y.: The types of puzzles that gamers experience are wide and varied, and really can't be narrowed down into any one category. I think that's what makes the game so fun and dynamic...there is no set answer to all of the puzzles. That said, there are puzzles such as simple lever pulls to open doors to other areas to finding a way on top of the windmill to using your weight correctly to jump from pod to pod outside the castle walls. There are really a ton of puzzles, all unique in their own way.

MW: I understand that ICO originally started it's lifecycle as a PSOne game. At what point in the development cycle was the decision made to change to the PS2 format?

DY: The game has been in development for several years, but we eventually realized that there was so much more detail we wanted to add into the game. Switching to the PlayStation 2 computer entertainment system allowed the gameplay to stretch that much further. I think gamers will recognize the true technological capabilities of the PlayStation 2 when they play ICO and actually see for themselves how stunning the graphics are.

MW: The graphics in the demo were breathtaking, especially the water effects surrounding the windmill. How much of the PS2's power have you exploited in developing ICO? Is there room for further improvement? How did the EmotionEngine effect the design process?

DY: It is quite difficult to say. I think a lot of it really depends on the great powers of the programmers and designers, as I believe you're only as limited as your imagination. As for the effect of the Emotion Engine, the effects of the light & shadows are originated from its technology.

MW: Finally, approximately how many hours can we expect to fully explore and complete ICO?

DY: I think really advanced gamers could finish the game in 15-20 hours, but for the average gamer, expect to put in 25-30 hours on the title. It's a very intricate title that is very tough to put down once you start playing.

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