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Eurogamer Expo 2009 Hands-on: God of War III

God of War

If there’s one thing you learn from playing Kratos’ latest adventure, it’s that violence can look incredibly sexy. God of War III is so deliciously violent that you fear a new niche in videogame gore porn will surface – such is the game’s graphical prowess. Crimson blood glistens in the sun as it pours out of the wounds Kratos creates, and pulsating organs spill out onto the streets of Greece as if an act of romance. If the demo on show at this year’s Eurogamer Expo is anything to go by, God of War III could easily be a contender for game of the generation, and assume the role of another PlayStation 3 killer app, alongside Uncharted 2: Among Thieves.

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The demo presented at the expo was an extended version of that seen at Sony’s Conference at E3, and has since received an immense amount of polish both graphically and gameplay wise. Kratos appears as prominent as ever, with a real hulking presence that would scare even the most determined opposition. His Blades of Athena are still in great condition and are better than ever, with the accompanying move-set perhaps a little too familiar. The Cestus, a completely new glove-like weapon was also available, and is preferred when fighting the more armoured enemies and when in enclosed spaces.

Gameplay is exactly the same as in previous games, but this only goes to show how strong and effective the formula is – and with a fresh lick of paint, everything works a thousand times better. Combat is smooth and fluid with it being easy to chain multiple attacks, and the controls are suited perfectly.

If you’re a videogames enthusiast or especially a God of War fan, then you’ve probably already seen the E3 demo to death and back. Well, imagine that demo but with a lot more detail and a lot more wow factor. It’s quite astounding how much the visuals have improved. Such battles as the one with the three-horned-muhussu is a true sight to behold, and the QTE that accompanies it breaks the boundaries of cinematic gaming, and helps the push to keep them in games, especially when done this well.

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It’s a shame that at Sony’s conference they had to stop a third of the way through the demo, as what follows is a feast for anyone who enjoys their games. After firing a flaming arrow at Helios, the God of Sun, mammoth Titan and father of Zeus Kronos grabs the cocky charioteer and throws him across the city. In pursuit of Helios’ remains, Kratos then has to make his way over a huge gap swarmed with Harpies. The controls here are perfect and you’ll rarely get frustrated or fall to your death as you hack and leap from Harpie to Harpie.

As you make your way through a series of corridors lined with guards the Cestus really shines, as its special attacks are perfect for small areas. The new battering ram move is particularly helpful in these places as Kratos grabs an enemy and uses it to mow down remaining foes. After opening a few green and red chests that make you smile all over for nostalgia’s sake, a short interlude of manoeuvring your way round walls and up ladders brings you to Helios, all cut up and on his last legs.

He is immediately covered by shields as guards create a sizeable tank formation. If that isn’t enough a gigantic Cyclops crashes the party and you’re left to duke it out with him. After the first gorgeous QTE sequence you’re able to mount the beast and act as puppet master, giving you an immense sense of power. You can smash the opposition like they’re made out of tofu and once cleared can end the Cyclops’ sorry existence with a gruesome eye-pulling that utterly drenches Kratos in a tantalisingly huge amount of blood.

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After a quick and grisly QTE with Helios that involves wrenching the head off his shoulders, you are able to use it to locate secret openings in the gameworld. After discovering a hidden doorway into the dark depths of an unknown cave you’re confronted by more guards that can be blinded when Helios head is used against them. The detail in this section in particular is a real treat to behold, with the water shining off the rocks in the wall comparable to something like poetry. The lighting, too, is exquisite.

The final section has you jump up into an aptly named ‘Icarus Vent’, where you have to dodge wooden beams, metal structures and falling fireballs in a stunningly realised attempt to reach Kronos the Titan up top. The final push for the surface mixes in with a cut-scene launching into an impressive spectacle that truly has you gasping for more – it’s an astounding finale to an astounding demo.

PlayStation 3 owners have a lot to look forward to next year, and God of War III is positively the most exciting prospect of that line-up. It may not be much different to previous games in terms of ideas and gameplay, but truthfully, fans, gamers and anyone human wouldn’t want it any other way. In execution, visuals, action and conviction, God of War III is looking peerless.

The author of this fine article

is a Senior Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in July 2007. Get in touch on Twitter @_Frey.

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