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4th Battalion Q&A
(hx) 01:03 PM CET - Dec,27 2005

We got a chance to talk with Maxim Voznyuk of MiST land - South as he talks about 4th Battalion, their upcoming  cyberpunk-themed action role-playing game. He provides us with pretty interesting information and some artworks. The game should be finished in Q4/2006.

GGMania: Could you introduce yourself to our readers and tell them a little bit about what you do on 4th Battalion?

Maxim Voznyuk: My name is Maxim Voznyuk. I am the manager of 4th Battalion project

GGMania: Can you give us a little background on the development team working on 4th Battalion?

Maxim Voznyuk: MiST land - South has a lot of large projects behind its back. All our games are very popular in Russia and western gamers know us by such games as "Paradise Cracked" and "COPS 2170: The Power of Law". At the moment, besides our own projects "Warfare" and "4th Battalion" we are making sequel to well-known "Jagged Alliance" series.

GGMania: Can you give us an overview of 4th Battalion, telling us what the game is all about?

Maxim Voznyuk: "4th Battalion" is an action/RPG, taking place in Cyberpunk Universe. There's a very spacious and rich universe, where the player can move freely, improve his characteristics and skills, interact with various NPCs, set his team, get new weapons and vehicles… In short, player can do everything that the most RPG games allow. And the action element adds dynamic, staginess and easy-to-use and intuitive controls. The world of "4th battalion" is very interactive - all your actions may affect your way through the game. The main feature of the game is dynamic environment; player will be able to destroy every single object on a map. For that purpose there are a lot of vehicles from light hoverbikes to huge walking tanks. All vehicles are controlled directly by player.

GGMania: From where did you get the inspiration to make this game?

Maxim Voznyuk: "4th Battalion" is a game set in the "Reality v.4.23" universe that is very popular in Russia. It's a huge cyberpunk world with hundreds years history. Our last games set in this universe have been very warmly met by cyberpunk fans. But only now we have technologies that allow us to implement all our ideas. "4th Battalion", in a concept, is a prequel to our previous "Reality v.4.23" games. Events take place at the formation of "Reality v.4.23" world, at the time of global chaos and Martian civil war. The 4th Battalion is the only one heavy assault unit of "Crusaders" - the new law-enforcement force and the last support for order and the System (Spying organization that tracks all civic activities trying to achieve a global welfare and prosper for the people).

GGMania: What can you tell us about the storyline of the game?

Maxim Voznyuk: The hero is a young cop from the Earth, acknowledged as an ideal candidate for a newly created elite "Crusaders" order. He is sent to Mars where the civil war is at its heat. But during the landing his shuttle has been shot in the upper atmosphere and fell down on Mars surface. Here the player can choose falling trajectory and thus determine the starting point of the game… Later on you are to gain an understanding of civic relations on Mars - a place where interests of different groups collide: rebellious miners, Earth government, powerful corporations and raised religious sects. You, as a Crusader of Order is to fight Chaos. Each planet zone has its own "level of Chaos". Our task is to reduce it as much as possible, preferably down to zero. How? Player decides. He can either just "kill them all" by "no man - no problem" concept, or support one of the groups by suppressing all other groups, or achieve "The Balance" of forces on planet by making all groups equal in power thus making them unable to gain anything from war - this lowers chaos too.

Besides, there will be such forces that should be just neutralized by your own hands or by others - it's all up to player. So in the finale we may come up to different endings by absolutely different ways.

GGMania: What character classes will players be able to select from?

Maxim Voznyuk: There will be about 9 classes, here are some of them: Assaulter, Sniper, Driver, Hacker, Medical… Each class has its own way of development and its own perks. There are also personal perks available for certain persons only. At the beginning of a game you will be able to choose the class of your character - it can't be changed during the game.

The player can create a team by hiring other characters. And as his skills grow he would get special functions for controlling squads, companies and even battalion. Each character in player's team is unique and can be found in different locations. The staff of the team varies depending on who player's friends and foes are. New team members give additional ways of completing the game and additional quests, as well as strengthen player in difficult situations. But it is possible to beat the game by solo-playing, though it will be much tougher. And, members of the team can have conflicts between each other as all of them have own personality, character, priorities and desires; so you are to choose wisely who's more important for you and who would stay or not. The player can improve his character and characters in his team, equipping them and changing their characteristics during level up. Every change in equipment cause changes character in visual. Each character has its unique appearance, bio and voice.

GGMania: Can you describe the RPG system? What skills and stats are there?

Maxim Voznyuk Each character has a set of characteristics that are standard for this kind of RPGs more or less, but we are also adding a perks system and a skill-tree, that allow player to develop characters in different ways with every replay of the game. Also a lot of team members will have specific perks and skills that are not available to others. Advancing in skill-tree is limited by skill-points. Every skill costs some skill-points, so you can't advance in all skills just from the start. Besides combat skills there are some peaceful ones like hacking, medicine and diplomacy. We are going to let the player beat the game without a single shot from the player's side.

GGMania: What kinds of weapons and items will players be able to use in the game?

Maxim Voznyuk: Weapons and equipment are very important part of the game. There are more than hundred kinds of weapons from pistols to heavy rocket launchers. There are also a lot of armors and various equipment including implants that would allow more that a simple human can do. Along with standard weapons there will be unique ones, available after certain quests. These weapons are more powerful and show extra characteristics. Each change in equipment changes player's appearance.

GGMania: The press release claims that the game will allow you to "drive more than 30 kinds of vehicles - from light sand-buggy to heavy assault walking-tank" Can you explain further?

Maxim Voznyuk: As already noted there will be a lot of various controllable vehicles, which differ not only by amount of weapon slots and armor thickness, but also a mover type (wheels, tracks, hover, walking mechanisms…). Movement dynamics will vary depending on mover type. To control a vehicle you will need a crew. Amount of crew members depends on vehicle functionality. For example, one person is enough to control an assault hoverbike with one machinegun and a pair of missiles; but you will need 7 crew members in order to control a heavy siege tank. Well, actually there may be only one, but the functionality of vehicle will be limited, he will be able to either move, or shoot one of the weapons or create an energy shield. Having a full crew will allow to use all vehicle's abilities at once. Vehicles can be bought or captured in battle. Vehicles can be upgraded in garage that includes additional weapons and armor, changing various modules. All changes will be shown on vehicle model.

GGMania: Tell us about the enemies that we will be finding in the game as well as to their AI.

Maxim Voznyuk: There are a lot of different forces acting on Mars, including: Governmental forces, rebels, giant corporations with their armies, fortune seekers and treasure hunters. Player will also meet civilians and cyborgs. Mutant settlements await him in abandoned mines and in deserts he will meet some mad sectarians. Due to our unique "body generation system" there are very few identical models of characters in the game, so all surrounding characters including enemies will be various.

We pay a lot of attention to AI. Enemies won't be just dumb dummies that can only shoot. If they get under fire they will look for covers using landscape and surrounding objects. If they are in a group they will act more tactically, covering and helping each over. If they are encountering a vehicle they will shoot at its weak spots using the best applicable weapon they have. Vehicle AI in its turn will try to turn to enemy with its strongest side evading and shooting back. Various forces will have various tactics. For instance, rebels will be under-equipped so they will fight in large groups outnumbering the enemy. Corporate forces will use heavy tanks and assault troops equipped with the newest weaponry.

GGMania: Could you describe the combat system?

Maxim Voznyuk: There will be two subsystems in the game: close fight and distance fight. They are based on straight control of the character. We have a complicated animation system for close fight, as well as a lot of kinds of blows. The player will handle blows in his own, using different combinations. In distant fight he'll use weapons and vehicles. We move character using keyboard, aim by using mouse. Different parts of units can be aims. For example, if you aim at enemy's head, you'll more likely kill him. Vehicles consists of several compartments which have different kinds of armoring and operate different functions - having damaged tank's gear you'll immobile it, but it'll be able to fire anyway. So, knowing weak places of vehicles you will destroy your enemies more efficiently.

GGMania: What sort of missions will be a part of the single player game? Can you give us an example?

Maxim Voznyuk: Missions are very multifarious. As it has been said earlier, there's one main aim, and the way of achieving it depends on player's wish. There are standard "come and bring" and "kill them all" ways, but there are also more intricate ones, consisting of several levels, which can be carried out in different ways. There are missions, which make you develop your diplomatic skill in order to induce someone do something. Of course, there'll be stealth missions! What side you choose is only your decision. Several forces are always in opposition and how the rest would treat you depend on your actions only.

GGMania: Could you describe the game interface?

Maxim Voznyuk: The game won't be overloaded with graphics. Gameplay includes only necessary menus: player status, weapons, minimap. If you handle any vehicle there'll be state of different compartments, armoring, amount of ammunition... Menu of equipment, characteristics, journal will be separate - like in most RPG.

GGMania: What can you tell us about the engine that is being used for the game?

Maxim Voznyuk: The game is based on highly modified Warfare engine. Its main features are perfect lighting and fair physics. Player can destroy everything he meets including small fences or huge factories. There also will be damage counter and real ballistics. Graphic part of the game is up to date: it includes shader water, magical special effect and so on...

GGMania: What kind of music and sound effects can we expect?

Maxim Voznyuk: There'll be appropriate soundtrack in the project, which is to stress the atmosphere of the game. Each character has its own voice and nature. And we promise we'll pay attention to localization of the sound in order to let you enjoy professional soundtrack of the game.

GGMania: Will the game have a multiplayer mode? If so, what will it include?

Maxim Voznyuk: No. This game is only of a single player mode.

GGMania: What do you see as the best feature in this game? Finally, what do you think gamers will enjoy in 4th Battalion over other games like it?

Maxim Voznyuk: What we are mostly proud of are impressive cyber punk atmosphere and the style, hundreds kinds of weapons and equipment, fair physics, ability to destroy every object in game, ability to control a great number of vehicles. And our favorite feature - battles with hundreds of personages. The player in the game almost unlimited in actions and movements what lets replaying the game a lot of times, choosing different enemies and making alternative decisions. An average player can finish the game in about 40 hours (minimum of quests, "average" ending) or 80-100 hours (maximum quests, good ending). We expect that our game would please not only old hardcore RPG fans, but also people who just want to have a good time. The first ones will find a huge world and dialogs system, while the others - dynamic thrilling close fights and distant fights with heavy vehicles.

GGMania: Currently, how far in development are you and when do you expect to release the game?

Maxim Voznyuk: The project is actively being working out. We're carrying on negotiations with several publishers with the purpose of publishing the project in Europe and USA. Planned release date - Q4 2006.

GGMania: Finally, is there anything else you wish to say about 4th Battalion?

Maxim Voznyuk: Thanks for the interesting questions. Hope this is not our last cooperation. Bye!

genre: cyberpunk-themed action RPG
release: Q4/2006
developer: MiST land - South
publisher: GFI

last 10 comments:

Genoism(05:07 PM CET - Jan,10 2006 )
i love reading these translations :p

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