God of War III
It’s been a long time coming but Kratos is finally ready to make his bloody splash in March of 2010. With the possible exception of Gran Turismo 5, God of War III is the major first party title that will make or break the platform. Its popularity was hard to ignore on the PAX show floor, there wasn’t a time that I passed by the Sony booth and the line was shorter than forty-five minutes to play. Although I’m certainly not the hugest GoW fan, I’ve had some fun with the series so I decided to wait it out and see what Kratos’ purported final adventure was all about.
Things get kicked off with a cut-scene involving a flaming airborne chariot buzzing around our main man Kratos. He’s obviously not terribly fond of said chariot but is quickly met by a small group of skeletons. If you’ve played either of the previous games you’ll be right at home, the Blades of Athena work exactly as you remember along with the dodging, blocking, grabbing and silly looking double jump the games are known for. After a few sweeps with Kratos’ staple weapon I decided to try a couple of the new features I’d seen previous players experiment with on occasion. In addition to the Blades of Chaos, Kratos is packing a new Cestus weapon that looks like a pair of mean ass gauntlets. The Cestus were quite slow but obviously very powerful, they reminded me a bit of the Sword of Artemis from GoWI.
After wailing on the smaller group of skeletons a ton more showed up so I grabbed the nearest one and tried Kratos’ new battering ram action. With a single enemy in hand you can use the dude as a shield and manually run over any bad guy in your vicinity. The attack certainly isn’t good for killing your foes, but in a game that routinely surrounds you with dozens of enemies it looks to be a welcome addition to knock enemies down and create some space to counter-attack.
Once the skeletons were laid back to rest the demo introduces a short platforming section. I used my bow and arrow to shoot a nearby harpy, inviting it to attack me. Rather than finish the creature off, I boarded it and used it to bridge the long gap before jumping loose and ripping the harpy to shreds. Immediately following the last gap I had to cross a longer one by jumping from one harpy to another mid-gap.
Having reached the top of the harpy-riding section I exited a cave to be greeted by another short cut-scene. Dozens of Harpies are fleeing from left to right as a gigantic molten hand enters the frame, thus revealing what can only be assumed is a Titan of the magma variety. The Titan is enormous and is scaling the structure’s wall in the background. At this moment, wouldn’t you guess I’m joined by another throng of the undead and then by a large centaur. At one point the group of skeletons overwhelmed me in a hilarious looking scrum-like mass, fortunately I was able to mash the group off with a trusty on-screen button prompt. However, immediately following my narrow escape the centaur is on me trying to skewer Kratos with his long spear. Dodging and landing some meaty Cestus attacks brings the creature to its knees, leaving it wide open for one of the QTE finishers the series is known for. Sadly the game has no Cestus finishing animations and it reverts back to the Blades of Chaos to cut open the centaur’s belly, spilling a few intestines in the process.
Moving on towards the Titan’s position, Kratos and I are greeted by a chimera. The chimera has three distinct attacks that correlate to which of the animals are in currently in charge of the beast. At one point it’ll swipe at you from its hind legs, strike with its tail and at another, pounce from all fours like an animal on the hunt. Having marveled at its attacks long enough I tore one of the creature’s horns from its forehead and plunged it into one of its eye sockets. With my tormentor down I walked over to the nearby crossbow and took aim at the pesky chariot. Having hit my target, the chariot is sent careening towards the Titan, who plucks the chariot from mid-air, crushing it with its mammoth hands. At about this time we’re told the demo is over and hurried on our way for the next group.
At this point God of War III doesn’t seem to have altered the formula it charted on the PlayStation 2 and PSP. It’s very pretty, plays tightly, has vicious finishers and has made subtle refinements that improve the overall experience without greatly altering what many people know and love.