God of War III Hands-On Preview for PlayStation 3 (PS3)

God of War III Hands-On Preview for PlayStation 3 (PS3)

Mythology’s Darkest Moments

June 8, 2009 – Although Kratos is not part of Greek mythology, he’s an important part of our own version of it. God of War returns in an impressive new format, complete with HD visuals and amazing surround sound that will wow players right from the start.

God of War III screenshot

At this year’s E3, we had the opportunity to check out God of War III not once, but twice. First, we attended a breakout session where they gave us all the info there’s to know about the upcoming chapter in the trilogy. Then, I got to experience it on my own next to one of the developers of the game, at the Sony booth.

This demo puts you about a quarter into the game, in the outskirts of the city of Olympia. The whole city is under attack, and there’s no way out. Luckily, Kratos is back with his double blades, the Blades of Athena, ready to fight anything and anyone on his way, always seeking for revenge against the gods who betrayed him.

He starts by fighting a few foot soldiers, and right then we realized they’re not all the same, like in previous God of War installments and many other games. The developers explained their new engine randomly mixes body parts, therefore generating different kinds of enemies, and not just a bunch of clones. This is, without a doubt, a step in the right direction, and if you also consider the vast improvement in textures, the higher amount of details (like mice running around, blood sticking to Kratos during fights, etc.), and of course, the high-def visuals, it looks like we’re in for a real treat this time around. In addition, the camera system and the wall mechanics have been completely revamped, promising a frustration-free experience.

God of War III screenshot

In the demo, the challenge gradually increases as we fight other creatures such as the Centaur (commander of troops), the Chimera (half goat / half lion / half snake), and a Cyclops later on. You can ride this later one almost like a tank in order to get through obstacles, bridge gaps, and attack other foes, and he won’t be the only creature you can ride in the game.

As far as standard weapons, the Blades are the way to go most of the time, but the demo also includes another weapon, the Cestus. This is basically a pair of heavy-duty gloves that smashes enemies with ease, especially if they’re weak. These heavy gauntlets slow you down a little bit, so they’re not always the right choice, but they do come in handy against tough enemies.

Like before, you can also shoot arrows, and in one occasion we used it to draw a harpy’s attention. There was a big gap, so we couldn’t reach it otherwise. Once the harpy came to us, we clung from it and pretty much ripped it apart, but before it was dead, we jumped and grabbed the next harpy, and so on. By dispatching about six of them while in the air, we were able to reach the other side of the gap. This was a neat way to overcome the obstacle, and probably just an “appetizer” that shows what we’ll be able to do in God of War III.

God of War III screenshot

There was also a huge titan in the demo, but he wasn’t too disturbing yet. While he threw fireballs at Kratos, we simply reached the ballista and knocked him away. When we finally reached Helios, the god of the sun and light, he was already half-dead from all the fighting and chaos. As brutal and visceral as this series always is, finishing him up was as simple as ripping his head off, which we were then able to use as a flashlight as well as some sort of radar that detects hidden secrets; gold flakes and vibrations point you in the right direction.

Back With a Vengeance

April 3, 2009 – When looking back at the PS2, it would be incredibly difficult to point out a specific title or series that defined the system. This isn’t because there was a lack of good software on the platform, actually quite the contrary. Of course, if one was forced to choose from the plethora of fantastic games, the God of War series would likely be high on the list of contenders, if not the first named.

God of War III screenshot

The mix of an epic and mature storyline, great gameplay, impressive visuals, and sheer brutality gave many PS2 owners a reason to rejoice, even fairly late (or so we thought at the time) into the console’s lifecycle. But as with all video games franchises, there eventually comes a time when to progress they need to make the leap to a more powerful console.

Although the end of Kratos’ epic trilogy won’t be playable on the PS2, the additional power provided by the PS3 should make it the most impressive God of War (GOW) to date. After the first GOW, the development team knew they had something special on their hands. This meant that they’d definitely be making at least a couple sequels and would need to become intimately acquainted with the PS2’s successor for their third title. So, shortly after the original GOW was finished the team split into two, with the larger group going on to make the first sequel, GOW II, and a much smaller group beginning the processes of figuring out how to best bring GOW to life on the PS3. Because of this decision, when GOW II was finished these two groups reunited and already had a leg up on the development of GOW III. Even if you’re only judging based solely on the game’s graphics, this strategy certainly appears to be paying off in spades.

Due to this extra time spent with the often labeled “complex” PS3 hardware, GOW III is already looking like one of the most visually impressive titles ever shown. Kratos himself looks incredibly polished and detailed, with wrinkles and imperfections noticeable in his skin as it shifts and stretches accurately based on his movements. Blood spatters will realistically begin to soak Kratos’ arms, weapons, and anything else that comes into contact with the red showers spraying forth from his newly eviscerated enemies. All of the violence we’ve all come to associate with this series will be that much more gruesome and realistic thanks to the new hardware, including tearing out Cyclops’ eyeballs and ripping off enemies’ heads with your bare hands.

The massive leap in processing power between the PS2 and PS3 was also necessary in order to continue the story in the way it was intended. (GOW II SPOILER WARNING) At the end of GOW II, Kratos has reignited the war between the Titans and Gods in an attempt to get revenge on Zeus. The game ends with Kratos riding atop the Titan Gaia as it ascends Mt Olympus, which is right where GOW III picks up. In what the developers refer to as “Titan Gameplay,” Kratos will spend much of the game traversing massive environments, which are actually entirely on the backs of these enormous creatures. These Titans, some of which measuring taller than the Sears Tower in Chicago, couldn’t have possibly existed on the PS2.

God of War III screenshot

Aside from just being impressive to look at, these Titan-based levels will also have a unique affect on the gameplay. As one would expect, since the Titans are living beings, they tend to move, especially when climbing. This can result in drastic shifts in the world, sometimes transitioning what used to be the ground you were walking on into a vertical wall in a matter of seconds. An interesting concept to be sure, and one that should help to showcase the game’s excellently designed environments.

Much like these somewhat traditional environments seemingly made anew by a fascinating twist, the tried and true gameplay that has always been a part of the GOW series is here but with several improvements. GOW III will still provide players with a good mix of platforming, puzzle solving, combat, and quick-time events. Combat in particular seems to have received a lot of attention although it doesn’t completely reinvent the wheel. Combos will still be fairly easy to remember and pull off with short sequences like square, square, triangle being amongst the most complex button presses necessary.

God of War III screenshot

However, where most players gravitated towards exclusively using the Blades of Athena in previous titles, all the weapons in GOW III are supposed to be equally handy in different situations. The Blades of Athena are great for quickly cutting through hordes of enemies at a distance, but the new Cestus weapon is best reserved for when said enemies get too close for comfort. These lion head-shaped gauntlets have a set of rings that expand and contract while swinging, creating a concussive force when they make contact. If you happen to strike an enemy or a group of enemies, expect them to fly back similarly to what was witnessed in The Fellowship of the Ring when Sauron struck his foes. Players will also be more likely to experiment with all of the game’s various tools of destruction, since it will now be possible to easily switch between your various options on the fly with a single button press.

There will be some other new abilities that can also be used to help combat the larger groups of enemies (up to fifty at a time) found on screen in this title. Kratos can now perform a wall run, which can be combined with attacks to create an interesting aerial offense. Once you’ve grabbed an enemy, you’ll now have some new options for inflicting pain such as slamming their heads off of a wall repeatedly or using them as a meat shield/battering ram as you place them on your shoulder and charge into crowds. However, if things get too frantic for traditional means, Kratos can now employ the help of some of his enemies. Players will have the ability to ride some enemies, like the Cyclops, by jumping on and letting their blades work as an interpreter. Kratos can stab his unwilling mount in the left or right shoulder, resulting in a painful flailing in the same direction. While these rides may not last very long, they look like they will certainly help clear out a large number of enemies.

It may be upsetting to some fans that the trilogy didn’t wrap up on the system where it began, but the shift should make for a much more remarkable finale. The PS3 looks like it will allow for several things that just wouldn’t have been possible on the aging PS2. Considering we’ve only been shown what is essentially the tip of the GOW III iceberg, fans can expect the title to only get more impressive before its eventual, yet unannounced release. Check back for more information on GOW III closer to E3, as there are several rumors circulating that it may make an appearance at this year’s show.

Game Features:

  • God of War III is the epic conclusion to the Greek mythological trilogy which will complete Kratos’ story that began in the original title for the PlayStationێ.
  • True to the series roots, the four pillars of gameplay – brutal combat, intricate puzzles, exploration of awe-inspiring worlds, and a compelling story – all return to make God of War III the ultimate experience.
  • God of War III picks up exactly where the action of God of War II left off – Kratos must take his quest for vengeance to the very stronghold of Zeus. As the Army of Olympus surges out to meet him in battle and the chaos of the Great War is reignited, Kratos must scale the summit of Mount Olympus on the back of the mighty Titan Gaia, leading his new colossal allies in an all out assault on the Olympians.
  • The menacing creatures of Greek mythology in God of War III are not only targets of Kratos’ brutal destruction, but can now be manipulated against their will, as he uses them to cross chasms, inflict blind rage against enemies, reveal puzzles and secrets, and as tools of complete annihilation as he makes his way on a quest fueled by hate and vengeance.
  • As Kratos continues on his path of revenge, he will uncover new deadly weapons like the Cestus, powerful metal gauntlets with devastating strength, and other brutal instruments of war that will allow him to learn ruthless new techniques such as grappling with enemies and launching explosive wall to ground attacks.
  • Built from the ground up, the brand new engine that powers God of War III was designed for one main purpose – to achieve a level of scale never thought possible. Kratos can now carve through armies of enemies while navigating on the back of a ‘living level’ – a massive, moving, breathing Titan as tall as the Empire State building.

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