Exclusive interview: God of War

After three years in the making, Sony's Santa Monica Studio-developed God of War is finally done and dusted, and has since been celebrated with high acclaim from the games media.

God of War's director David Jaffe has, according to his blog, now officially 'gone fishing' but, before disappearing into the sunset, the mastermind behind the Greek epic took some time out to answer a few of our questions.

God of War has been in development for a considerable time. Is this because the team has been soaking up some Greek sunshine with extended 'working' holidays?
Man, I wish. This has been the hardest game most of us have ever worked on and that's because so much of it was special case. We really didn't follow the traditional path of videogame making, where you create three to six elements/mechanics and then reuse those over and over again, but in slightly different ways.

We approached God of War more like a story, less like a game. In a story, if you had something that felt like filler or scenes that were saying the same thing over and over, you'd cut them out, right? But most games don't do this. They stick needless filler in, and tons of backtracking, simply to extend playtime.

But, with God of War, we were given lots of time to make sure that every room in the adventure and every part of the story had a purpose and moved the game along at a brisk pace.

This is why it took so long to make, because every level was new - new from an art standpoint, many new animations, and each level had at least one or two new play ideas that you had not encountered before.

The good news is I think it really makes the game feel like a grand adventure that players will want to take. The bad news is it was a bitch to create!

Technically, God of War is very impressive - has PS2 been pushed to its very limits, or do you think the console still has something to give?
I'm not a tech guy, so I couldn't tell you. What I can say is, every time we had a cool idea for God of War, the coders and artists found a way to pull it off.

There was never a time that the lead coder said to me, "PS2 can't do that", so I don't know how much of that is a testament to the team or to the hardware. It's probably a mix of both but I would say that it seems to me that this amazing little machine - in the right hands - can still do some amazing stuff.

I love PS2. It's really been a fun machine to work on and I love that we got to contribute to its fantastic library of games. To me, it's the best system ever, right behind SNES.

The combat is incredibly satisfying - how much time has been spent on this aspect of the game?
Lots and lots of time. It took forever to find the right animation and combat design team and to find people who really got the vibe I wanted the game to have.

We redid many of our combat animations over and over, simply because the brutal nature of Kratos was not as big as I wanted it to be. We threw so much work away as we struggled to figure out the system but, while frustrating, it really was worth it.

I was originally going for a very brutal, nasty combat system about 10% deeper than the SCEE game MediEvil. I love that game but, as you know, it's not a deep combat game. But as the team came together God of War evolved into a deeper system but retained the pick-up-and-play, arcade design that I was always going for.

So while we are not trying to compete with the massive depth of a fighting system like Devil May Cry 3, we feel we have a system that allows more casual gamers to feel like a brutal badass, while still giving combat players a nice system with a good amount of depth and strategy.

It took a long time to get the game to this level but I feel we ended up with a damn good combat system. I hope players agree!