SCEE responds to God of War II HD ruckus

"Even if the game only featured English it would still not have been possible," says Sony

After the ruckus this morning over the axing of God of War II's secret HD mode for European versions, SCEE has fired over a full explanation to CVG on just why PAL gamers won't be checking out Kratos's bonce in HD glory next week.

SCEE's statement reads as follows:

"As has already been correctly reported, the truth is that the US version of [God of War II] already pushed the dual-layer disc to near-capacity, and the addition of audio for French, Italian, Spanish, German and Russian meant that the development team had to make a Herculean effort to ensure that everything would fit.

"However, even if the game only featured English it would still not have been possible. This is because everything in the game has been optimised for PAL (576i), including the movies. The God of War games are famed for the seamless transition between gameplay and cutscenes, and if we had kept the movies in NTSC resolution, there would have been a very noticeable, very jarring transition between the two display formats. The only compromise would have been to have featured the movies in both PAL and NTSC resolutions, but as evidenced by the struggles the development team had to even fit localised audio onto the disc, this was clearly not an option. It should also be explained that the excellent PAL optimisation meant that a 60Hz option was also not necessary.

"Ultimately, the decision fell to what would benefit the majority, and the number of European PS2 owners who own a component cable and the necessary equipment to display 480p output is extremely low compared to those who are playing on CRT sets, or indeed on HD sets via a composite/RGB SCART connection. It was a necessary measure that was taken with a great deal of consideration.

"The IslandOfRhodes site makes it explicitly clear that the mode is actually a slightly enhanced version of the standard 480p option that is available from the options menu (US version only), and was implemented at the very last minute due to the fact that it created additional bugs. By Tim's (Moss) own admission it was just intended as a bonus.

"Development of the PAL version ran extremely closely alongside the NTSC version, and to have asked the team to develop a similar bonus mode for the PAL version would have distracted from their efforts to get it into the best shape possible. In addition, it would have required additional QA testing that would have a resulted in substantial delays to the game's release.

"It should also be noted that when playing the game on a PS3 via a component of HDMI lead, it runs in true 576p and not just an upscaled version of 576i. The Enhanced Definition (ED) output is forced from the PS2 graphics chip which is why a lot of PS2 games - not just GoWII - will look a lot better. By contrast, if you boot up the US GoWII on an NTSC PS3 and switch Progressive Scan mode on, there will be no difference as the emulator is pushing the 480p mode regardless.

"What this basically means is that the PAL PS3 is giving the best PS2 visuals you will be able to get anywhere!"

We suppose it's not all bad news then (if you own a PS3, that is). Look out for our full review of Kratos' latest in the days running up to next week's release.