By Jesse Thompson (Additional reporting by Ryan Penagos)
[This is the fifth of several behind-the-scenes featurettes Marvel.com will be running to lead into the release of SEGA's "Thor: God of Thunder"; think of it as a Director's Cut DVD commentary BEFORE the game even hits stores. Keep checking in every couple of days for a new teaser with more tidbits from the developers and designers, and remember they're best enjoyed with mutton and mead.]
|Thor vs. a giant troll, with Ulik watching|
The son of Odin may have the pearly whites of a god, but that doesn’t mean they can't get seriously rattled. And judging by the lineup of high-rise hooligans itching to take a crack at that pretty little skull of his, we hope he's kept his Thor-thodontist on speed dial.
While we've heard a great deal from the folks at Liquid Entertainment about the highly detailed realms outside of Asgard that Thor passes through, it’s of course the enemies he faces off against that are responsible for most of the damage left after each trek. And each one has a face that you’ll long remember after (hopefully) using Mjolnir to turn them into paste.
"When we started creating the animation, we wanted to make the enemies memorable, to give them character and appeal," says Liquid Lead Animator Rick Arroyo. "And by doing that, you have to work on the core stuff. When you see a [Vanaheim] cyber-troll walking around, you really have to feel his weight and attitude."
So how does Arroyo go about making you "feel" the smugness of just one of the many ugly bruisers Thor "disagrees" with? It's all in the tiniest bits of details.
|Thor vs. trolls|
"We animated the little nose rings wobbling when [the troll's] walking, just to show that he's simultaneously really sluggish and, ya know, badass," Arroyo laughs. "We call him the Berserker. When you see him on the screen and he walks toward you, you feel like, 'Crap...He's pretty big.' So when we introduce enemies, there's presence. He's not a boss character, but he's a big, simple-minded creature that will get in your way. And all he wants to do is crush. He's not going to try to throw something at you; he's just going to come charging at you to wail on you.
"It would've been cool to get some drool going on, as well,' Arroyo adds with a laugh.
But what of the many familiar unfriendly faces that pop up? The ones who longtime THOR readers will recognize from their long-established patterns of bad behavior? Like say, a certain rock troll who looks like he's in constant need of a Rabies shot?
"Ulik is extremely strong, but he's agile—and he's small," Arroyo teases. "Well, 'small' meaning twice the size of Thor. He's kind of an ape-like character, so we wanted to show that in the animation; when you play against him, he's more acrobatic. He'll leap, he'll spin, and he'll use those giant fists to impose himself. So while he's bigger than Thor, he's certainly not slow."
|Thor vs. Mangog|
Ulik's unique fighting style and the presence of other thuggish trolls serve as just two examples of tweaks made by the Liquid team. ("As far as the legacy’s concerned, most of the creatures we've created are based on what's been seen in the Marvel Universe," Art Director Benny Terry says.) But when it comes to the heavy hitters, the inspiration from the upcoming film can be seen...and felt. With aftershocks.
"Mangog is similar to the Destroyer [in the movie]," Terry acknowledges. "[In the trailer], we've seen that force moving through him, and Mangog has that similar vein of technology; one of the things we do with his attacks is that you'll see his power rising up, moving through the red seam lines across his body. That's the internal power that's moving out, those billion voices of hatred that are coming out to attack Asgard and everything connected to it."
The level of destruction only gets worse in Muspelheim. In poker terms, Surtur goes all in, and he won't need a pair of dopey shades to keep a straight face.
|Thor vs. Surtur|
"With Surtur, there's no 'Oh, I hit you once' and you break free," Arroyo says incredulously. "No, we want to inflict pain on Thor. So during the battle, Thor tries to slam Surtur to the wall, but Surtur counters that grapple and smashes him into him into the rock; but he wants to make sure that he really feels pain and then smashes him right through the ground. That leaves you with, 'Alright, I've got to rethink my strategy; I can't just go head on and start hitting him with my hammer, I've got to really think this through.' So that was kind of the feel we wanted to give these enemies, that personality."
Surtur as Mr. Personality? We're sorry to break this to those gearing up for "God of Thunder," but...you’re gonna have to kill the life of this particular party.
Look for more "Thor: God of Thunder" action on Marvel.com soon and pick up your copy of the game for PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, DS and 3DS starting May 3!