Stig Asmussen, game director for God of War III, has the challenge of creating the series finale for gaming's angriest protagonist - Kratos.
Only this time it's on the vastly more powerful PS3, so Kratos needs to be even angrier, enemies even bigger and more vicious and the action more brutal and mental than the legendary God of War II. That's a big task, but Asmussen seems confident his team has it sorted.
The PS2 and PSP games in the series all pretty much stuck to a rigid formula. How much can we expect GoWIII's gameplay to change?
Stig Asmussen: Beyond the obvious graphical improvements, we are really pushing the design this time around. Things that we have always wanted to do in the past are now possible on PS3.
The sense of scale in this game will be unprecedented, beginning with our 'Titan' characters. These Titans are truly walking, talking, living, breathing levels. Everything that can be done in a traditional 'static' level can now be achieved on these massive giants. Kratos will be able to solve puzzles, fight enemies and bosses, and negotiate platform challenges while the Titans move across the landscape.
Some of our Titans are almost twice as tall as the Eiffel Tower! To put that into gameplay scale, the Colossus from GOWII could sit comfortably into a Titan's hand.
Scale will also become a factor in terms of the battlefield. Where we used to max out at 10 enemies on screen at once, now we are looking at 30-40. This increase is something we are seeing in a lot of games. However, we noticed that in other games the gameplay doesn't change when you fight more enemies. I feel we have addressed this issue.
What about how players control Kratos, will that change?
Stig Asmussen: Now we think of Kratos' moves with both setups in mind. How does he feel against 5 guys? How does he feel against 25? Do the enemies act differently, more aggressive in larger numbers? So we set out to give Kratos a new set of simple moves that 'evolve' and become more effective when the enemy count increases.
When you shoot the 'firebow' at one enemy he lights on fire. When you shoot it at a guy that is standing next to 10 other guys, he may catch one of the other enemies on fire and the flames potentially could propagate through the entire army.
We have also created a suite of moves that spawn off our simple grab mechanic that are effective against large groups of enemies. On top of this, we are pushing 'large scale battles' even further by creating different army 'ranks'. The Centaur now acts like an on the field general, commanding foot-soldiers. The foot-soldiers actually become more organized when he is on the playfield.
And you can ride on creatures' backs too...
Stig Asmussen: These guys are a lot of fun. In GOWIII, Kratos will be able to subdue creatures in the heat of battle, mount them, and drive them against their will, forcing them to attack on Kratos' command. The player will get full control over these creatures for a limited amount of time. So, for example, Kratos can bash through a horde of soldiers with the Cyclops, driving him like a tank. Likewise, he can use the Harpy as a sort of 'helicopter'
How might the game make use of the DualShock 3's motion controls?
Stig Asmussen: We are looking into the Sixaxis and how we it could fit into our game. Although we haven't made any solid decisions on it yet, I will say that it is very intriguing. Some games have had success with it. I think developers have success with it when they don't try to get too clever and do really sensitive actions. It's important to keep the moves quick and snappy. Look at 'Folklore'. I think that is a great example of how to make the Sixaxis feel good.
Look out for the second half of our chat with Asmussen on Monday (April 13).