GDC '08: Prince Caspian First Look

We check out the movie-licensed video game based on the classic C.S. Lewis novel.

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SAN FRANCISCO--There's nothing like going to the source when it comes to a licensed video game. In the case of the upcoming Prince Caspian for Xbox 360 and other major consoles, the "source" happens to come from a couple of different directions: film director Andrew Adamson, who is the director of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, the movie based on the influential C.S. Lewis novel; the visual effects masters at Peter Jackson's Weta Digital studios; as well as the C.S. Lewis estate itself.

Lots of characters onscreen give life to the huge battle scenes in Prince Caspian.

In Adamson's case, attention to detail appeared to be one of the important lessons learned for the developers at Traveller's Tales, as it seems like Adamson's production design has put huge importance on the little details, all the way down to the different kinds of chain mail armor that will appear in the movie (and, as an offshoot, the game). According to Traveller's Tale producers, Adamson's also a huge gamer, and his input on the Prince Caspian game included the advice that players should immediately be grabbed by the coattails and taken for a ride from the outset in the game.

OK, so it's not exactly cutting-edge game design theory there, but that action-packed approach to the game's opening will certainly be there in the game. This brings up another important aspect of the game's development: the narrative structure. While the game follows the same plot as the movie, it tells the same story in a more nonlinear fashion, with several missions acting as hubs from which various side missions continue. Indeed, the first level of the game tells the never-before-examined happenings between the first and second Narnia books, which see just a year pass in "our" world, while 1,300 years have passed in Narnia. What happened during that vast stretch of time was a job for the developers at Traveller's Tales to construct with the help of the C.S. Lewis estate, which is headed by Douglas Gresham, Lewis' stepson, who had the final say on anything and everything to do with game's continuity.

During our brief demo of the game we jumped through a number of different areas that highlighted the two main genres that will comprise Prince Caspian's gameplay: straight-ahead hack-and-slash and puzzle-solving. For the former, a huge number of units onscreen at any given time are a great start--during an early battle in a castle courtyard we watched as the producer demonstrating the game guided a hulking Minotaur through a crowd of battling fighters. You can control up to two players in the game, switching between each on the fly, and the game will allow drop-in/drop-out cooperative play (offline only). The other character on hand during this particular level was a mighty centaur who could gallop through crowds of enemies with ease, knocking them back as he sped along.

One of the goals for this particular level was to take out a series of catapults strewn throughout the courtyard. The Minotaur and centaur weren't strong enough to take them out; so in order to pull it off, you have to jump on the back of a giant standing in the middle of the courtyard. By guiding him around--giants are pretty stupid in Narnia, it seems--you can use his brute power to take down the catapults.

Familiar faces will be playable in the game thanks to a large character roster.

The game isn't just about brute force, however; in a later level shown to us, we saw two of the main characters, Peter and Edmund, make their way through some creepy-looking caves, using a torch's flames to keep bats away. The goal of this level is to use light to repel the bats, as stepping into darkness will bring the cloud of bats to your character. Conspiring against you (and your torch's flame) will be various drafts flowing through the caves, which you will have to plug with rocks and other objects. As you progress through levels, you'll be collecting items and shards that you can use to upgrade your character's armor and weapons.

To create the game's look, the team behind Prince Caspian went straight to the visual source, too--the visual effects masters at Peter Jackson's Weta Digital. The massive castle seen in the video game version of Prince Caspian, for example, comes from the exact same renders of the game that will be seen in the film. It's so big, in fact, that developers decided to create two different levels from it, each composed of different sections of the huge structure.

From creating the precise look of the armor and technology available to the Telmarines (the human armies fighting against Prince Caspian) to the unique score created just for the game, the details behind the Prince Caspian game have been a big undertaking for the developers at Traveller's Tales. Here's hoping the final product--and the movie, for that matter--live up to the sterling reputation of the book from which they draw.

Discussion

11 comments
CapriceTalia
CapriceTalia

I Dont Care What Anybody Says Im Getting The Game And I Know Im Going To Like It!

derren22
derren22

i think the movie will be good but the game will be like the iron man game just out right SUCK

kna3000
kna3000

this game's video is not promising .. i'll be more than surprise if it get higher than 7 ....

Trollbane
Trollbane

Graphics look dated, dosent sound very good Oh and i'd be surprised if it got a 7. 5 or higher

smadiso1
smadiso1

If the game can put some decent gameplay aspects together with the already awesome story (read the book if you havn't already!) this one might break the trend of cruddy "movie to game" transitions. The graphics already look promising but I hate it when movie based games rely on spiffy graphics only to sell it. :(

drogaz
drogaz

This game looks like it actually might be kind of decent. I'm personally going to wait and see. But when a director works with the game designers and is a gamer himself it usually turns out to be an above average movie game(like Peter Jackson and the LOTR games/King Kong).

hordekillah
hordekillah

thats bec asue they are rubbish man...... the ovie really wasnt tha great, so I reall do wonder why they would make a silly game.......

xgalacticax
xgalacticax

Im not gonna play this. I dont know y but I usually write of game adaptations of movies as rubbish. Probably because I feel they rush them just make the release coincide with the movie release. Well, lets face it, most of them turn out to be crap.

Nkenobi
Nkenobi

I sure hope this will be pulled off. I am very passionate about C.S Lewis' work and the first movie did a great job of bringing the second book to the big screen. I am confident that they will do just as well on the fourth book. The game however is another story. It is hard to make any judgments at this time, but the graphics do look very nice. Although, I do see room for improvement in that area as it is.

stewiegriffin78
stewiegriffin78

I really hope they get it right...not just the game, the movie too. CS Lewis is one of the greatest authors in history (in my opinion), and I hope that this one is more fun than the first game.