All Out Wars, Button - Mash Free? That's theGoal of "300" : March to Glory
Category: 300 News | Posted by: DaisyMay
Article Date: February 21, 2007 | Publication: Gamezone | Author: Louis Bedigian
All-Out Wars, Button-Mash Free? That’s the Goal of “300: March to Glory”
by Louis Bedigian
“It's this management of your own internal resources, combined with mastering combos and special moves to kill specific enemies, that really defines us.”
Movie games are big business. They’re not always good business, but one cannot deny the potential to cash in on Hollywood’s success. Which is why it’s strange (and very intriguing) that 300: March to Glory is a PSP exclusive. The developers could have shoveled the game onto as many platforms as possible. But they chose to take another route.
“The main reason for this decision was simply time,” said Producer Jeff Nachbaur. “Movie games have a reputation of being poor and we here at WBIE (Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment) are really trying to fight against that trend.
“More often than not, the biggest issue is that by the time a movie is greenlit and starts filming, it's usually already a very tight development schedule. When we looked at this, we considered our timing and the resources we had available, and to make a movie launch date, we decided the only game that we could really be sure to do well in our time frame was a PSP title. But that's not to say that there won't be something in the future. If the film becomes a classic and our game does well, who knows what may happen.”
You play as King Leonidas, correct? What kinds of strengths and abilities does he have?
Jeff Nachbaur: Yes, you do play as Leonidas. Aside from all his weapon abilities, he has Battle Skills. These are four special abilities that the player will unlock as they play the game. Every time you successfully hit an enemy, you get a little bit of Wrath. When you build enough Wrath, you can then activate a Battle Skill. While the Battle Skill is activated, every hit on an enemy gives you health instead of wrath. It's the way that Leonidas heals himself. It's all about calling on his own inner strength and fortitude to keep going in spite of injury.
Potions and the like just didn't seem very Spartan. It should be all about the warrior and not anything else. That's what a Spartan is. These are guys who went to war naked.
Anyway, we have four different Battle Skills, each with a different effect. There's Fortitude (a quick instant heal), Blood Drunk (a battle rage that increases damage), Defense (Leonidas automatically blocks all incoming attacks), and Eye of the Warlord (time slows for Leonidas, allowing him to dodge enemy attacks and attack them more quickly). Then he has all his combos and weapons. He's a formidable guy.
Tell us about the gameplay. Is this a free-for-all kill-everything-in-sight kind of game, as the movie's battle sequences appear to be?
JN: There is a whole lot of killing of Persians as you would expect. However, there is more to it than that. Our combat system is a bit more thoughtful – it isn't a button masher. You can button mash for the first level or so, but after that, you really need to start thinking about what you're doing. Our solo combat is deep, allowing you to upgrade weapons, use special abilities we call Battle Skills, unleash Wrath attacks, and perform combos to dispatch enemies.
While you are constantly in the action, you are also regularly managing your wrath and health. It's this management of your own internal resources, combined with mastering combos and special moves to kill specific enemies, that really defines us. Then, of course, we have our non-solo sequences, the phalanx, where the gameplay changes for a bit and allows you to control an entire line of Spartan soldiers.
Could you give us an idea of what the missions will be like?
JN: The inspiration for our missions comes directly from the film or comic. For instance, our fourth mission is called First Day. It is inspired directly from the comic's "First Day" at Thermopylae and it is the first big battle between the Spartans and Persians. Although each mission starts with a specific goal in mind, the goals usually change and evolve as the story unfolds. It's all about telling a particular piece of the story. Each ends with a sort of set piece, usually a boss battle or some sort of environmental puzzle. There's a sense of finality to each of them… none of them just end.
In addition, each mission allows you to get to know one of your allies a bit better. Our second mission focuses on Daxos, our third on Astinos, our fourth on Stelios, and so on. This helps the player feel a little more connected to these characters and makes him more invested in the game's ultimate goal, instead of just having a whole slew of faceless Spartan warriors.
Does the game share the same story as the film? How is the story presented – how does it unfold?
JN: Generally, we follow the story of the film and the comic; we are dealing with the same history after all. However, it's only a general guide for us. We don't stick to it like glue. We move things around as needed to hit the dramatic beats that are best for gameplay. We found this to be much more important treating it as canon.
Our big story moments are in our cinematics that occur between missions. These provide the scope of the story and the setup. Then, our short in-game cut-scenes provide the moment-to-moment story needs of the gameplay. But all the key beats are there. The Immortals, the hunchback's betrayal, the Captain's son being killed… it's all there, although it may not happen in the same place or exactly how you remember it.
Since the battles will be large-scale, what did you find when working with the PSP? Did it allow you to have as many characters on screen (simultaneously) as desired?
JN: The PSP has a lot of graphical power, so getting a lot of guys on screen wasn't the problem. What was a real challenge was putting Collision on them and allowing you to interact with them… you are a bit more limited in processing power with the PSP. So, we really had to perform some tricks.
We limited collision and interaction to only those that are near you, which allowed us to put more characters on the screen in the background, in cut-scenes, etc. This provides the illusion that there are a lot of guys there. When you are playing, we control the camera and are able to get enough enemies on the screen to make it feel full. So, when you are fighting, you never get the feeling that there isn't much going on. In fact, it can sometimes be overwhelming. We were able to get the feel of a battlefield, but it took a lot of work by Collision to get there.
Is there a specific engine powering 300: March To Glory?
JN: Yes. Collision licensed the Vicious Engine from Vicious Cycle. I believe it was the first Sony-endorsed middleware engine solution available for the PSP.
What kinds of weapons can you wield?
JN: There are three basic weapon sets available. We have spear & shield, sword & shield, and dual swords. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. The spear allows you to pierce armor and break shields. The sword is good at dealing out damage to unarmored opponents. The dual swords is crazy fast, but you lose the security of a shield. The shield can be used as a weapon. The spear can be thrown and instantly kill baddies, but then you lose it. The shield can be thrown and picked up again. Not having a shield allows you to dodge and roll quickly. So, despite having basically two weapons in the game, your weapon choice has a myriad of gameplay effects.
Is there an armor and/or upgrade system of any kind?
JN: Absolutely. Every time you successfully kill an enemy, you gain what we call Kleos, which is a Greek word for "renown" or "honor." This is our currency and allows you to buy new combos, and upgrade battle skills and equipment. Each sword, spear, shield, and set of armor has five different levels. Each battle skill has three. There is tons of stuff to upgrade…it's a very big part of the game.
Are there any bosses or specific fights that must be overcome in the game?
JN: Boss battles are plenty. Each mission ends with either some sort of puzzle or boss battle. In fact, we loved boss battles so much we even introduced a few new ones not seen in the comic or movie. We took Hydarnes of the Immortals and Mardonius directly from history. Both were around at that time and led troops for Xerxes. Both are bosses in the game and play a big part in our story.
We also took bosses directly from the film, such as the Uber Immortal and the Executioner (that big fat guy with his forearms sharpened into axes). Finding bosses was never an issue…the film, in that regard, is very much like a videogame.
What is the ultimate goal in 300: March To Glory?
JN: To kill as many Persians as possible and create a grand legend that allows the Greeks to eventually defeat the massive Persian horde that threatens their freedom. Oh, and have a whole lot of fun in the process. And decapitate a whole lot of baddies. I think that's it.
Thank you for your time.