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Torture Cell Lightens Its Tone

By Bobfish05-02-2013

Remember that torture scene from Blacklist that was premiered and showcased at E3 last year? Well, if you don't, it's going to profile difficult to refresh your memory, because it's been pulled from the game. I'm sure it will resurface on YouTube soon enough, these things always do, but after much deliberation and a large amount of negative feedback, it was decided that it did not fit with the tone they were going for. It's not so much that it was too graphic, or so Producer Andrew Wilson seems to be saying, but that it was too dark, without the necessary moral weight to justify its inclusion. In an interview with Eurogamer he offered clarity.

"Definitely we are not going to see when the game's coming out that there are torture scenes in it. That scene is not there anymore. I've not really heard anyone say they loved it. It wasn't nice to see any negative reaction to something you've thrown your life into. Because the nature of E3, there are certain things that are easier to demonstrate. The first thing I'd say about that is that possibly there was missing context - and in an unabridged snapshot, it seemed like pretty tough material. We've scaled a lot of that back, and as we've gone through the process of development there are always things that you feel are not working as well. Every game does this, and cuts certain things."

Meanwhile, Ubisoft Creative Director Maxime Beland, whilst speaking to Kotaku about the same thing, sort of, offered further context. Effectively saying that this kind of encounter may, and likely will, still be a part of the game, but in a less involved way. Namely, that players will not instigating these events, but that they will have control over the ultimate outcome.

"No, there will not be interactive torture in Blacklist. On Conviction, we called those 'interrogations,' right? And it was kind of, my vision of Conviction was that the player to be in control all the time. We had no camera cuts, I always wanted to make it feel that it was nonstop. We're doing certain things with interrogation moments where you won't be in control, but you will be in control of what you do with the guy after. So again, embracing that lethal/nonlethal side."

But that's not all. Beland also went on to have a "big discussion" with Game Director Patrick Redding, in which the two seem to have eventually concluded that they haven't found a way to have true moral choices in the game whilst creating a suitable link to gameplay. With Beland going on, eventually, to say:

"As soon as you link it to gameplay, the player sees the matrix, he sees the gold pot at the end of the rainbow, and then he plays the system a lot more than he plays the true morality. What we talked about, and we had lunches and meetings about it, we said, let's try something where it's a true moral choice. You're not going to get a thousand dollars if you don't kill the guy and only five hundred if you do; let's remove all the gameplay part of it. Let's put the player into those situations, put them in control - because that's where games shine - and then, hopefully, we're treating it in a way that's mature, that's respectful, that will get people talking about it."

That's a lot to take in when all's said and done. Curious too, considering how well they handled this kind of thing in the previous games. Conviction, as mentioned above, had the violent interrogations with environment interaction. I mean, dude, Sam twatted a guy on the back of the head and put the dudes face through a urinal in the opening level alone. Plus, let's not forget the much darker, much more chilling, and almost entirely none violent shadowy corner questionings from Chaos Theory. Some of them were genuinely terrifying, but still fit seamlessly into the game as a whole. So Ubi can do it, they've shown that repeatedly. Makes me wonder if they're just trying to drum up a little uncertainty, to make the ultimate effect more powerful when we experience it for ourselves. But I'm not so sure, that doesn't tend to be there style, though it's not outside the realm of possibility. If there are any others you can think of, don't hesitate to join us in the comments below.

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