The God of War series has gained a reputation for its graphic violence -- but this console generation, graphics are better and sharper than ever. How does the team approach it now?
"That was definitely a challenge for us," Steve Caterson, senior producer at Sony Santa Monica, tells Gamasutra in our new feature interview on the game. "The violence question is something we always take very seriously, and we recognize the controversy involved in those works and decisions."
"I think we tried very hard to follow one of our key guidelines that was set out when we were making God of War, and that was, 'Don't do anything that doesn't fit the character,'" he adds.
Although the team tried to avoid doing anything that would be inappropriate for hero Kratos, Caterson states: "Anything that relates to the character, as the situation evolves the character and pushes the character forward -- those kinds of things you need to do and should not be shied away from."
"Don't do anything just to be sensationalist. Don't do anything just to be controversial," he adds. "There should be a purpose and a reason for the actions and the depictions shown on-screen."
"That was the guideline that we set for ourselves and one that we tried very hard -- and I think successfully -- to follow in the first two products," Caterson says. "The same thing applied for God of War III."
The team was surprised at the graphical fidelity they were able to achieve, says Caterson --"'Hey, look! We can split a centaur from stem to stern and still have insides falling out!' And it was like, 'Whoa, we can actually do that?' And then the question was, obviously, 'Should we do that?'"
But they decided the intensity was character-appropriate: "It definitely heightens the level of brutality, but after careful consideration and viewing it and experiencing it, it became obvious that Kratos is a very brutal guy, and what he does is very brutal. We want that to be a part of the experience."
The team kept everything that felt character-consistent, but anything worse than "This is what Kratos would do given the situation" was removed, according to Caterson. "And there are a few things we actually pulled back on," he adds.
Nonetheless, there were company-wide concerns about the game's violence. "There were conversations held at a variety of levels," Caterson says. But positive reaction from the game's E3 demo "confirmed for us that we were on the right track and we were doing what was right for the franchise and was right for the character," he adds.
"It also confirmed for many of the doubters internally that, 'You know, they've got a handle on this. They're pushing the limit, and they are going to the edge, but the games have always done that.' We've always tried to take it as far to the edge as we could."