Exclusive interview: Red Dead Revolver

It's been years in the making, it's been overseen by two different publishers but, in just over a month, Rockstar's third-person western shooter is finally due to hit PS2 and Xbox. To find out just why the game will be worth the wait, we caught up with the game's producer, Rockstar San Diego's Stewart Spilkin...

When did development start on the original Capcom version of the game?
Around the turn of the century! No, seriously, it's hard to pin down because we made several prototypes for Capcom that were not westerns before we decided to go west.

How near to completion was development of the game when Rockstar picked it up?
Some aspects of the game, like various characters and levels were complete, but a lot of fundamental elements had to be revamped.

In what ways does the Rockstar version of the game differ to what it would have been had the game remained with Capcom?
The story was rewritten, the audio and cinematics were redone, and the cameras, controls, AI, multiplayer, unlockables, weapon tunings, combo system and special moves were revamped to make Red Dead Revolver a Rockstar game.

Why do feel that there have been so few western-based games before?
Because people were afraid to take the risk. The Old West has great atmosphere, style and story possibilities but there's no magic like in a fantasy and there's no plasma cannons, grenade launchers and other hi-tech stuff - so the gameplay has to be great. That's exactly what we've done, and no one has really seen anything like it.

What is it about westerns that appeals to you - and why do they make good source material for a game?
The same reason why westerns make great movies and so many science-fiction stories and games are just westerns in disguise. The combination of lawlessness, making choices about what and who are important, vast open spaces and tiny outposts of humanity, people looking to make their fortunes and others looking to forget their past.

The PS2 version of the game looks superb - how have you managed to attain visuals that are so close to those of the Xbox version?
Hard work. Our artists treat everything like a piece of art that has to stand on its own. They go over every texture and object by hand and paint in the lighting, shadow and atmosphere.

How did you come up with the generous array of weapons?
Weapons were a vital part of people's everyday lives back then, so there is an incredible variety of handmade and factory-made weaponry available at the time. The weapons back then had a sense of style and artistry that is gone today and yet they had to be just as lethal.

Which ones are your favourites?
Well, you can't go wrong with a shotgun and the 'Lion' is the deadliest we have in the game. Shadow Wolf's bow is great fun, especially when you are using fire arrows, but the most satisfying in the end is the classic six-shooter, especially when you finish the game the first time and earn the Scorpion Revolver.