why i love… the hos­pi­tal chase in a way out

How A Way Out uses di­verse game­play and stel­lar cine­matic tech­niques to de­liver its most me­morable scene

XBox: The Official Magazine - - START - Fraser Gilbert

Pub­lisher Elec­tronic Arts / De­vel­oper Haze­light Stu­dios / for­mat Xbox One / re­lease date March 2018

Josef Fares’ in­ven­tive co-op ad­ven­ture A Way

Out drew plau­dits fol­low­ing its re­lease ear­lier this year, fea­tur­ing a me­morable story, var­ied game­play, and a bril­liantly unique take on the ac­tion-ad­ven­ture genre. The game, which sees the char­ac­ters of Vin­cent and Leo es­cape from prison and go on the run, boasts a range of me­morable set-pieces, with none more ex­hil­a­rat­ing than its hos­pi­tal chase scene, en­cap­su­lat­ing many of

A Way Out’s strong­est qual­i­ties. The level takes place to­wards the lat­ter part of the game, open­ing with a cutscene in which Vin­cent vis­its his newly-born daugh­ter in hos­pi­tal. The po­lice have been tipped off as to the pair’s lo­ca­tion, how­ever, and soon ar­rive at the build­ing, spurring an emo­tional good­bye and dar­ing es­cape. Both main char­ac­ters dart off in dif­fer­ent direc­tions, mark­ing the only notable time the game ditches its stan­dard co-op me­chan­ics in favour of a turn-by-turn ap­proach.

In the next ten, fre­netic min­utes, Vin­cent and Leo find them­selves en­gag­ing in every­thing from rapid quick­time fights to mea­sured stealth sec­tions. The sense of des­per­a­tion is ever-ap­par­ent, and there’s not a dull mo­ment to be had – the re­sult of A Way Out’s pur­pose­fully di­verse ap­proach to game­play. This scene alone has you climb­ing build­ings, fight­ing ad­ver­saries, stealth­ily hid­ing from the cops, and much, much more, all in the midst of rush­ing from room to room.

There are some fan­tas­ti­cally cre­ative de­sign choices in A

Way Out, and plenty of them fea­ture as part of this hos­pi­tal chase. The side-scrolling com­bat se­quence, which sees Leo en­gage in short 2D-style fights with var­i­ous foes, does a great job of mak­ing ba­sic fight­ing feel im­pact­ful as a re­sult of a per­spec­tive change. The grand fi­nale, in which Vin­cent takes the wheel of a get­away ve­hi­cle, ramps up the drama sig­nif­i­cantly by im­ple­ment­ing a slow- mo­tion se­quence, high­light­ing the car­nage around him.

Lights, ac­tion!

“My back­ground as a film­maker has helped me out with this game,” Fares told OXM ahead of A Way Out’s re­lease. “If you look at the cin­e­mat­ics, look at how the cam­era move­ments are, look at some of the game­play ideas – how they are played in a sense. I have many ideas on how to take that even fur­ther.” This is where the hos­pi­tal chase scene ex­cels most promi­nently. Fares utilises his ex­pe­ri­ence as a film di­rec­tor to great ef­fect, im­ple­ment­ing a range of thrilling cam­era an­gles and unique per­spec­tives to heighten the ap­peal. Most no­tably, the scene takes ad­van­tage of a sin­gle-shot struc­ture, last­ing the en­tire ten min­utes. This means the cam­era never cuts away from the ac­tion, de­spite reg­u­larly switch­ing be­tween both char­ac­ters. The lack of a cut­away al­lows the mo­men­tum to re­main hec­tic, re­plac­ing typ­i­cal black­out seg­ments with cre­ative tran­si­tions. The cam­era takes a free-flow­ing ap­proach as it moves through vents, ghosts be­tween win­dows, and even makes use of sur­veil­lance footage to seam­lessly switch be­tween rooms. This leads to some tremen­dously im­pres­sive cin­e­matog­ra­phy, and it also gives the scene a par­tic­u­larly high-bud­get feel.

The way the cam­era adapts to each care­fully man­u­fac­tured seg­ment feels mas­ter­ful in de­sign. In one part, there’s a stealth sec­tion in which you have to blend in with the other pa­tients in the hos­pi­tal. The cam­era al­most feels like it’s hid­ing with you, peer­ing over the ledge to lis­ten in on what the po­lice are ver­bal­is­ing in the back­ground. In an­other, there’s a mini-chase se­quence in which you’re tasked with block­ing a door­way with a book­case, with the cam­era fo­cus­ing on the door’s win­dow as an on­com­ing po­lice­man ap­proaches with speed. It’s a credit to how metic­u­lously de­tailed this scene is that you for­get how lim­ited the game­play can be. It’s filled with quick­time events aplenty, and even big fight scenes re­quire lit­tle more than a tap of a but­ton.

When A Way Out was un­der­go­ing its pro­mo­tional pe­riod ahead of the game’s re­lease, the hos­pi­tal chase scene fea­tured promi­nently. It’s no sur­prise – it’s not only one of the most cre­atively am­bi­tious seg­ments in the game, but ar­guably the most grip­ping, too. I’ve in­tro­duced the game to nu­mer­ous play­ers since its re­lease, and it’s al­ways the hos­pi­tal scene that sets jaws drop­ping. In putting it to­gether, Josef Fares and his team de­liv­ered one of the most thrilling ac­tion se­quences of 2018.

“The way the cam­era adapts to each care­fully man­u­fac­tured seg­ment feels mas­ter­ful in de­sign”

right This seg­ment feels the most pol­ished, and lasts long­est in the mem­ory.

Above The ac­tion soon ramps up af­ter the hos­pi­tal scene, in­tro­duc­ing epic shootouts and ve­hi­cle get­aways.

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