Hei$t Interview

8:00 - Eat breakfast
8:30 - Round up the crew
8:46 - Pull up outside the place, and remind driver to keep the car running (he always forgets)
9:00 - Steal lots of money
9:01 - Hop back in the car, yell at driver--yeah, he forgot--and peel outta there
9:02 - Get chased by cops and probably get shot at--a lot
9:18 - Ditch the car, the bodies, and go home to relax--and count the money

That kind of schedule sound appealing to you? Well, Bonnie and Clyde did it; let's see if you can, too. Due out later this year from inXile Entertainment is Hei$t, a game centered around robbing banks, diners, and a various assortment of other fine establishments before hopping into the getaway car to make what will hopefully be a quick and easy getaway. I recently spoke with inXile's Scott Crisostomo, Hei$t's lead designer, to learn more about the game.

Shack: What's the back story for HEI$T?

Scott Crisostomo: In HEI$T players take the role of Johnny as heÂ’s just coming out of prison. Someone tipped off the cops during JohnnyÂ’s last job and as a result his father was killed and Johnny was put in the slammer. Now heÂ’s back on the scene and determined to finish where his dad left off. So he gets his old crew back together with his sights set on knocking over the San Francisco Mint.

Shack: How does the game's story and character development progress?

Scott Crisostomo: For HEI$T we wanted to re-create the experience of being a bank robber, so players have the ability to scope out banks, build alliances, discover escape routes, and find ways to use the city during a getaway. This required us to place players in a world where they are free to make as many choices and discoveries as possible.

At the start of HEI$T players are just out of the pen so they need to start from scratch. Johnny begins by hitting the easier banks, and then as he and crew gain experience and better skills they can take on the harder banks until they ready to take on the SF Mint.

Players will be able to level up their crew members skills by doing certain jobs. For example, by cracking similar types of vaults the playerÂ’s safe expert will get faster at cracking that line of safes.

Shack: Does Johnny's crew act of their own accord, or can the player control them?

Scott Crisostomo: Johnny has a crew of highly trained specialists who pretty much know what their roles are in a given plan. However, sometimes plans go into the crapper and it will be up to players to issue new orders to the crew. The crew members also have their own personalities, so even when things go smoothly players may have to deal with some attitude adjustments from the crew. Players will be able to keep their crew members in line using positive and negative feedback.

For example, Crumb is an intimidating crowd control specialist and sometimes he gets a little rough when someone isnÂ’t following his orders. So when he knocks a guy out instead of shooting him in the face, players throw him a high-five to let him know itÂ’s cool. And sometimes Cracker gets distracted by a pretty teller, so he ends up flirting with her rather than doing his job. Players might want to smack him upside the head to straighten him out and get him thinking about the job instead of the girl.

Shack: Can crew members be killed or captured? If so, what happens?

Scott Crisostomo: Crew members can be hurt and incapacitated, if that happens it will be up to Johnny to rescue his crew members.

Shack: Where can players pull of heists, and what loot can we go after? Is it a case of simply grabbing anything we can go our hands on, or are there specific objectives?

Scott Crisostomo: Players will be able to rob all sorts of different businesses in HEI$T--diners, strip clubs, bars, warehouses and banks. Banks are the primary goals because thatÂ’s where the money is, but they are also the most heavily fortified. To get by these defenses players will have to take on other types of jobs each with their own various goals. All this is done with the intent of making the bank jobs easier. Players may have to steal a certain amount of cash to pay off a bribe, or acquire explosives, or steal a special drill, or get a copy of a bankÂ’s security system [or some other goal].

Most objectives are to make the bank heists easier to pull off, so any other jobs players do will help them in achieving their goals. Different places offer different experiences for players to learn from. For instance, strip clubs will help teach JohnnyÂ’s crew about crowd control, knocking off smaller banks will improve the crewÂ’s safe-manÂ’s vault cracking skills, etc.

Shack: So after players pull off a heist, is that it? Do we have to make a getaway?

Scott Crisostomo: The getaways are a big part of HEI$T. Grabbing bags full of cash is easy, getting back to the hideout without getting caught is the hard part. If players pull of a heist perfectly, theyÂ’ll probably just have to shake loose some cops in a car chase. If they spend too much time in the bank the cops may setup outside, then theyÂ’ll have to deal with tear gas, barricades, and a hail of gunfire, not to mention a dragnet of waiting patrol cars if they even make it to the getaway car. In that situation players may have to shootout pursuing vehiclesÂ’ tires, take shortcuts, or even rely on allies to bail them out.

For example, if before robbing a bank they paid a visit to a disgruntled city bus driver and gave him a sizeable bribe, during the chase they head to 16th and Mission and as they pass by his bus and honk the horn the bus driver pulls across the intersection blocking off any cops.

Shack: What vehicles are available?

Scott Crisostomo: The available vehicles will be appropriate to the time period. Since the getaway is such an important part of HEI$T, most of the cars players will want will be fast, tough muscle cars. As players earn more cash they will be able to afford vehicle upgrades such as a larger engine, improved transmission, a tighter suspension, and even paint jobs and decals for the people who want to a certain look to their ride.

Shack: What about weapons?

Scott Crisostomo: Players will have access to automatic pistols, revolvers, shotguns, submachine guns, assault rifles, sniper rifles, machine guns, and explosives. Some of the older weapons will be from the WWII era such as the Tommy gun and Grease Guns, while the more “modern” weapons will be from the Vietnam War: M-16s and AK-47s. More powerful weapons will become available as players gain the trust of their arms dealer over the course of the game.

Shack: Will the game feature online play?

Scott Crisostomo: Yes! Yes! Yes!

Thanks for your time. Anything else you would like to add?

Scott Crisostomo: Thanks for the interest in HEI$T. WeÂ’ve gathered a group of creative and highly skilled people and we think this is going to be a great game, I hope you enjoy it!

Hei$t is in development for PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3, and is slated for release some time in the fourth quarter of 2007.