By Jesse Thompson (Additional reporting by Ryan Penagos)
[This is the sixth 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.]
Remember when the Balrog first appeared on screen in "The Fellowship of the Ring"? Remember those chills that ran up and down your spine before spreading to a barely containable grin across your face?
As impressive as that was, it's small potatoes when compared to what the crew at Liquid Entertainment has in store for Thor's rogues gallery. Even when a lower-tier threat such as a run-of-the-mill frost giant lumbers onscreen for the first time, your heart rate will go up faster than if a naked Sif hopped in your lap.
|"Thor: God of Thunder" screenshot - Thor vs. frost giant|
"When you see the frost giants walk [into Asgard], they're a big presence and take up the full screen," says Liquid's Lead Animator Rick Arroyo. "There is a sense of scale and size. The guards basically say, 'Hey, no no, you can't come in to our city,' and the giants pretty much reply, 'You know what, you have no chance, we will crush you.' We wanted to make them really bad and vicious."
And we all know there are two things that truly say "Vicious." One is "Sid," and the other is "freezing breath delivered with an inhuman roar."
"We asked ourselves, 'What can we do to make the frost giants feel cool?'" Arroyo remembers. "So instead of doing a normal casting spell, the freeze comes from a giant's breath; he's almost roaring at [the guard], but at the same time freezing him where he stands. So it's kind of spooky if something like this yells at you and you freeze right in front of it. It makes the player like, 'Oh my god.' Especially after he crushes the guard. Then it’s really like, 'Oh my god, these guys are seriously badass...Oh man, I gotta get my game face on.'"
Though some may argue that Thor never takes his game face off (and they're right), even Odin's noblest and bravest son would find beads of sweat developing on his brow after getting a look at the scripted sequences that kick off each level. But believe it or not, they're supposed to be a treat for the player.
"Doing these scripted events, we want to reward the player simply by giving him some exciting moments," Arroyo says. "You know, they've been battling for a certain amount of time, and we want to reward them."
What Arroyo's not telling you, however, is that most of these "rewards" are just teasers for more backbreaking battles on down the line. Thanks, but...crap, that's gonna hurt later!
|"Thor: God of Thunder" screenshot - Thor vs. frost giants|
"There's a particular event [at the beginning of the game] where we see this sort of massive goliath climb up a building in Asgard, so this is actually where you end up fighting him," clarifies Liquid Art Director Bennie Terry. "So you see that first presence, and you know there's something big and looming in the distance. When you finally reach it, as he [begins to take form], you realize it's what started as a much smaller frost giant who walked forward and started gathering ice to his body to form himself into this large juggernaut creature. Thor fights him, and at the very end Thor's actually punching Mjolnir through his chest and ripping this giant out of that ice suit, his armor if you will. That's when you’ll see the armor collapsing down around him, because now he's exposed, and now he's roughly Thor's size. But Thor battles gods. When he fights someone about his size, he's going to dominate them. Once that ice armor is crushed, it's a whole different story; you really get to see Thor's power."
So, in other words, Thor not only bashes the ice-armor hide off of a frost giant, but he then makes an example out of the cocky creature inside by continuing to smack him around. (The Titanium Man and the Gremlin never received that kind of punishment!)
Stay tuned for more info on "Thor: God of Thunder" and any other schoolyard-bully tactics he has up his chainmail sleeve, and pick up your copy of the game for PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, DS and 3DS starting May 3!