It’s been three years since Sony Santa Monica Studio’s God of War II left us on one of the most epic cliff-hangers in gaming history. Kratos’ fate was up in the air and fans were craving for the return of their beloved anti-hero for some more of the blood 'n' gore that God of War is renowned for.
Fans exhaled in delight with the release of God of War III, the first (and possibly the last) of the series to grace the PlayStation 3.
So was God of War III worth the painfully long wait? Abso-freaking-lutely!
We caught up with Sony Santa Monica Studio's lead game animator, Bruno Velazquez, and senior designer, Jonathan Hawkins, to chat about the game, the infamous sex minigames and whether Kratos could kill a Tyrannosaurus Rex with his bare hands...
GamePro: This is the first God of War on the PS3; obviously there is a big graphical improvement. I’ve heard a lot of people in the gaming community say that this is the best looking game to date on any console. How do you guys feel about that?
Jonathan: It’s definitely flattering to hear these types of comments, basically, when we’re making it, we tried not to think about that and trying to make the best game we can make
Luckily we have a lot of talented artist in our team and their direction from Ken Feldman (God of War art’s director) was great. So I’m glad we were able to pull it off to hear these comments, its really rewarding.
We just had an amazing team. We’re all very heads down and put our nose on the grindstone just to get it done and I think it’s probably the best game I’ve ever played or ever seen.
Not to toot our own horn, but I think it really is visually amazing, especially the parts with the titans in the opening level, its simply breath-taking so I’m very happy to work with the team and be surrounded by such great talent, it makes my job a little bit easier (laughs)
God of War III's lead game animator Bruno Velazquez (not the one on the left)
GamePro: Gore is obviously a big part of the God of War series. I was playing the game before and I was dissecting a centaur 15 minutes into the game. Was there a pressure to up the ante this time around with such great graphical capabilities?
Bruno: I think that came kind of naturally with the improvement of the graphics. In God of War 1 and 2, there were some pretty visceral scenes and some pretty hardcore scenes as far as the violence is concerned. Now with the PS3 being more detailed, it just naturally came across as being more visceral.
But definitely we just wanted to make sure that whenever we do those kinds of things it is within context and it supported through the story and through the character of Kratos. That is the way he would do things. Our goal is never to try to be gratuitous or just for shock value.
Jonathan: It’s to reinforce who Kratos is and to make sure you remember you are playing Kratos and you’re playing God of War and this is what he is about, not be for shock.
GamePro: I’m sure fans will be pleased with it, either way.
Jonathan: (laughs) But I think it’s important to remember when you’re telling a story, to stay in tune with the character and not to go away from that and that is his character. He is that kind of beast, that animal which destroys and with the power of the PS3 and the new graphics ability, it really comes across.
I think some people are a bit taken aback but we do it in terms of the story and to really reinforce who he is as a character.
GamePro: The sex mini game has been a traditional part of the series. When you're making that sequence, what are you guys trying to convey? Is it just something fun to do?
Bruno: It’s something fun but at the same time, its kind of a tradition that was established in the first game. And to be honest with you, on the third game, we didn’t just want to shoehorn it in.
That sequence was on the cutting room floor. We were not going to do another one just for the sake of it. I know it was a tradition that was in every game, but at least Stig [Asmussen, Game Director on God of War 3] decided to incorporate it more into the story. So this time around, that sequence is actually involving the goddess of love, Aphrodite, so it’s more part of the story and it makes sense and it fits in the world.
God of War III's senior designer, Jonathan Hawkins
Jonathan: I think it also kind of reinforces his character. Again, a lot of these things in the game are to promote who Kratos is, you know. He is that badass, the alpha male. He gets the chicks but he also rips people in half.
It is part of his character and that is what was in the first game, right from the bat. You kill the Hydra, you get the chicks. That is part of being a badass.
I think it is important to have that scene in the game to reinforce that idea.
GamePro: So you guys weren’t tempted to make a 10 girl orgy?
Jonathan: I’m sure the fans would love to see that!
Bruno: That would be the hardest meeting game ever!
Jonathan: Four controllers! Maybe with motion sensors…
GamePro: Who do you think should play Kratos in a live-action God of War?
Bruno: We haven’t thought of a specific actor. How about the guy [dressed up as Kratos] that was here at the event? He did a pretty awesome job! [See pic below]
GamePro:What if it were to be a proper movie star?
Jonathan: Maybe, Ed Norton? If he can bulk back up again!
Jonathan: Someone that has to physically define who he is but also really get into the head of him. And someone that can understand the inner workings of the him as character.
Bruno: I wonder how Russell Crowe would do? I’ve been thinking about it, that would be kind of cool. I wonder what he would look like with pale skin though. It would be kind of interesting.
GamePro: Do you think Kratos could kill a T-Rex with his bare hands?
Bruno: [laughs] I think so… Yes.
GamePro: Yes, definitely?
Your fearless reporter, Spandas Lui