There are rumours of a fourth character...
Zamkoff: All lies! We were toying with the idea of a fourth character but we felt that instead of spreading ourselves too thin, we wanted to take the three characters we had and make them really developed. It's something we felt we could've executed better in Mercs 1; depth of the characters - especially the main bad guy.
So we've dedicated a lot of energy to making sure each character has a distinct voice and feels different to play. That's kind of why we abandoned the idea of a fourth character.
In addition to the co-op, are there any plans for a more traditional multiplayer mode?
Zamkoff: We talked and we bantered about it and if possible we'll add those on, but again we don't want to do tacked-on features and we don't feel that deathmatch really gets to the heart of the game as much as co-op multiplayer.
At the moment it's just co-op online and that's as much from a design standpoint as it is from a tech standpoint. We really feel like that's what sells the fantasy and because Mercs is such an open-ended game we want you working with your friends, to come up with a thousand new things we didn't even think of at the beginning.
How on earth has Pi Studios managed to shoehorn the game onto PS2?
Zamkoff: That's kind of part of it; we didn't ask them to shoehorn it. What we did was give them the Mercs 1 tech and so they were developing content from day one. The idea was that they needed to keep with the high-level fiction, have the main bad guy and contracts, but all the side-quests we've given them complete creative liberty to do whatever they want.
We don't want to feel that the PS2 version is just a dumbed-down version of the next-gen game, we want to feel that it's a compelling game on its own. These guys have done levels for the Call of Duty games and they did the Halo 2 Vista port. They're their own full-on development team and they've been given a lot of creative freedom by us to make a great game, not just Mercs 2 built in a box.
We own the IP at Pandemic. We're partnered with EA right now, they're helping distribute it and we're working very closely together, but at the end of the day we own the rights to the IP and we want to make sure there's no version of the game that comes out and doesn't make the IP stronger.