E3 06: God of War II Preshow First Look

Sony shows off its sequel to the acclaimed, mythological PlayStation 2 action game.

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Given the critical and commercial success that God of War enjoyed last year, it's something of a no-brainer to assume that a sequel would be on the horizon. Following Sony's official announcement of the title last month, the publisher had a press event in Los Angeles earlier this month to show off the follow-up to the cracking original title. Today we bring you the first of two impressions from that event, which offers an overview of the game's development and some early info on what to expect. In early May, we'll bring impressions from a demo of the game in action.

The press event opened with David Jaffe, now creative director of Sony's Santa Monica studio, who brought those in attendance up to speed on the particulars of the first game and how the team set out to create a sequel for it. Jaffe noted that over the course of making the original game, the development process was almost as much about figuring out what the game should be, the team dynamics, and the overall mechanics as it was about making the actual game. As such, by the time the Santa Monica team wrapped up work on the original title, they all felt as though they finally had everything figured out on how to make the game.

Obviously, despite the team's obsessing over aspects of the game it didn't feel were perfect, the original God of War did alright for itself. When talk turned to the sequel, there were a number of logistical issues to iron out. The most significant was Jaffe's promotion to creative director of the Santa Monica studio, which left the director position on God of War II open. After a period of time where the idea of finding someone else in the industry and bringing them in to fill the position was entertained, the decision was made to go with Cory Barlog, lead animator on the first game. With a director in place, work began on the game in earnest so as to make use of its hard-earned experience and include elements that didn't make it into the original game.

In approaching the sequel, the team is aiming to avoid the sophomore jinx by making the game a proper follow-up to the original God of War, and the story picks up where the original left off. Kratos, a newly minted god, will be dealing with his new stature in life and the headaches that come with it. Unlike American Idol winners, the life of a new god, especially one in the Greek pantheon, isn't a whirlwind of photo opportunities and public appearances. As anyone who has read Greek mythology can tell you, a god's life on Olympus is surprisingly close to the later episodes of Survivor, where everyone is trying to figure out how to jack everyone around them. Though this way of life doesn't do much to help Kratos find the peace that's eluded him in his life, it does make for a meaty game premise. While the entire story hasn't been revealed yet, what has been revealed so far is that Kratos finds himself on a quest to change his destiny, which will send him on a butt-kicking spree across land, sea, and air. And based on the trailer that's been released, it will involve a whole lot of killing.

The gameplay will take the same approach as the game's story and build off of the original-game's mechanics by including new ways to murder your foes, as well as all-new mechanics such as the flying levels seen in the trailer. Look for more on God of War II May 9, when we'll bring you impressions of the impressive game in motion, followed by our Electronic Entertainment Expo coverage later in the week. God of War II is currently slated to ship in February 2007, for the PlayStation 2.

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