We just love God of War. If there was a finer excursion on PS2 in 2005, then we didn't manage to catch it. Kratos' debut was one game which we thought really proved the PS2's maturity as a platform, with beautiful graphics, clever but not too clever puzzles and some of the most visceral and satisfying hack n' slash action we'd seen in an absolute eon.
Naturally we were delighted to hear a sequel was brewing and when we caught first tantalising glimpses of it at this year's E3, we knew we had to know more. Enter stage right Cory Barlog Sony's in-house Game Director and Derek Daniels, Senior Combat Designer (what a cool job title), who've undergone a thorough CVG probe for GoW too.
In the course of a fascinating and often hilarious interview, the dynamic God of War II duo have much to unload including a host of new details on how Kratos will evolve in the sequel, their ideas on improved combat, magic and combolicious new moves, building better bosses and how they'd love to see the story unfold over a trilogy of titles.
Cory and Derek also discuss their ideas on a next-gen version, how the series might be brought onto PSP, God of War's multiplayer potential and finally, their plans for a sequel on Gizmondo if somehow, impossibly, GoW II doesn't work out on PS2 [one of those statements is a bit of a fib obviously].
Anyway, enough gassing from us, unleash those blades of war boys!
God of War was our PS2 game of the year, last year, but were you surprised at just how well it was received by press and public alike?
Cory Barlog: I had a mixed response. Part of me was like "Yeah...or course they like it...we worked our collective a$$es off to make that game." But then there is another part of me that remembers thinking "Man I really hope people get this." We loved the game but there was always that possibility that it would end up not connecting with people. So many great games go unnoticed by the masses and the possibility that our game could suffer the same fate was never all that far from my mind.
I mean Beyond Good and Evil was a great game that just never seem to resonate with the US consumers. These guys worked hard, and produced a stellar title and the sales were not that good. So there really is no guarantee in this business...or any entertainment related business for that matter. One great thing about Sony though...they really stand behind their games. So we had a lot of people backing us and pushing for the games success so that made a huge difference as well.
What were your main ambitions for the sequel in terms of extending and building on the experience?
Cory Barlog: The main goals have always been to maintain and surpass the level of quality we set for ourselves in everything we do. We want to take players back into the mythological world we created and continue telling the story of Kratos and his struggles with the gods. I also love the idea of conveying the story and character growth through the gameplay. So we are not just telling the story, you are living it.
The Greek myths must provide a great source of inspiration and many plot devices for the game. How've they fed into God of War II?
Cory Barlog: I studied a ton of the mythology while working on the first few drafts of the script for the game. There really is a never ending well of ideas to pull from in mythology and the real difficulty is picking things that really fit within the story of Kratos as well as being easy to swallow for audiences. I was often told by people that "this is not a history lesson." This was a pretty valuable piece of criticism. I mean I love teaching new things through the storytelling of the game...I really believe that helps to elevate the medium...but you can't let your story get bogged down by that. Because in reality it's an action adventure game that at its heart is about having fun and losing yourself in the world of mythology. It should never feel like you are forced to stop every 5 minutes and say "Wait...who was that? He was related who? What was his name again?" That is how I felt when I was researching a lot of this stuff. If that happens then you have pretty much lost your audience, which I have heard is a bad thing.