Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Viktor Antonov - Half-Life 2 and Dishonoured

The Citadel wall

Half-Life 2 is an excellent game on many fronts. One of most interesting (though not the only) aspects is the design for the game’s environments. Set in a dystopian future where humans are ruled by an oppressive alien force, the game does not simply present a world on the edge of destruction due to alien invasion, but rather creates locations which are uncanny in their familiarity. The designs are reminiscent of cities and sites which we may all know. The central locale of City 17 was reportedly designed with Eastern European, Soviet Bloc countries in mind. The city echoes the insipid kind of repression associated with modern oppressive regimes; its streets are empty a part from clusters of military police or slow moving civilians, their heads down often murmuring nervously. The alien-ness of the outerspace, or inter-dimensional, invasion is felt by the constant presence of the Citadel - like a monument to the faceless industrialism at the heart of the game’s enemies. City 17’s design creates an amazing sense of an organised invasion – not one of utter destruction – in which human dwellings and spaces are no longer pleasant; more spaces of necessity rather than for living.

City 17
Viktor Antonov, who was involved in many of the designs for Half-Life 2’s environments, is also working with Arkane Studios on their new game Dishonoured – reportedly a first-person, stealth game set in a world, this time taking cues from 17th century London. While there appears to be a lack of invading force in Dishonoured there still appears – in the designs at least – a sense of oppression. This is mostly apparent through the staunch structures which rise out of the grey London mist. Like City 17, they appear both familiar and decidedly alien.


Similarities can be found not just between the two cities, but also in other designs by Antonov. These scary looking guards might remind of the Combine Striders in Half-Life 2. Even in this still shot from Dishonoured there is a strange sense of movement to these police striders – again reminding me of Half-Life’s striders.

Half-Life2:  Strider

Similarly, vehicles in both games share a militaristic vibe. With solid metal bodies and hard edges.

Hal-Life 2: APC

Vehicle from Dishonoured

Dishonoured is looking like an interesting game by any account. But the possibility to return to another oppressive city designed in part by Antonov makes the game even more exciting!Check out this interview with Antonov courtesy of Gameinformer:  

1 comment:

  1. Wow! I was unaware of this little gem, if it turns out to be anywhere near as good as half li8fe i'm very excited, although i have a hunch a new half life may not be to far off as a new counter strike is being released next year with a new "value" engine which i guess is what the next half life has been developed with, exciting stuff!