God of War III

Platform(s): PlayStation 3
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: SCEA Santa Monica
Release Date: March 16, 2010 (US), March 19, 2010 (EU)

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PS3 Preview - 'God of War III'

by Rainier on Jan. 1, 2006 @ 1:30 a.m. PST

Set in the realm of Greek mythology, God of War 3 allows players to take on the climatic role of the ex-Spartan warrior, Kratos, as he treads through Mt. Olympus and the dark depths of Hell to seek revenge on those who have betrayed him.

God of War II ended with one hell of a cliffhanger. Kratos had just defied fate and battled Zeus to a standstill, almost killing the leader of the gods. Now the Titans, the ancient enemies of the gods, have awoken and are climbing Mount Olympus for the final battle. God of War III is set to be final chapter in Kratos' epic story, and it certainly feels like it when the game starts. Naturally, things won't be quite as easy as simply running rampant over Mt. Olympus with your army of giant pals, especially since Kratos seems to have found a way to make an enemy of the Titans — and this is where our E3 demo began. As the war between the two sides rages, Kratos makes his own way up Mt. Olympus, seeking to end his torment once and for all — or to kill every single thing, living and undead, until he is the only one left standing.

Kratos' appearance hasn't changed much from God of War II. When we saw him, he was still wearing the Golden Fleece and the Icarus wings that he'd obtained in the prior game. When we asked about this, we were informed that they're trying to work out the proper balance of how many of Kratos' abilities they'll allow him to keep. While it would be great to keep all of Kratos' awesome weapons from the last game, it might be a bit problematic to balance the entire game around those and all the new stuff they want to introduce in God of War III. You could give the player a massive amount of equipment, but that would be intimidating to new players, and it would risk overshadowing the new stuff that the team is introducing. At very least, the Golden Fleece and Icarus wings are confirmed — and they'll also have new powers to show off.

In fact, the Icarus wings are going to be the basis for one of the game's new sequences. Deep within Olympus are pits of magma, which cause tremendous updrafts to sweep through tunnels and holes within the mountain. If Kratos jumps into one of these and spreads the wings, he can fly upward at absolutely tremendous speeds. This activates a mini-game reminiscent of the Pegasus sequences in God of War II. The developers said that it was based on the same basic gameplay. As Kratos flies up, he'll have to avoid and dodge various obstacles that bar his path. There was no combat in the Icarus sequence that we saw, but considering that this is Kratos we're talking about, there's no guarantee that it will remain that way throughout the entire game. The developers also promised a fair number of these sequences, as opposed to the rarity that was the Pegasus.


However, as mentioned above, Kratos will be receiving some pretty substantial new equipment to round out his inventory. The first is the already-revealed Cestus, a pair of lion-shaped super-gauntlets for Kratos. These are substantially slower than Kratos' usual blades but make up for that with additional power. When armed with them, Kratos fights a bit more like a brawler, even going so far as to transform his dodge roll into a boxer's dodge-step. In addition to being powerful in close range, the Cestus can also shoot a long ball on a chain from the front, allowing for long-range attacks as well, although not quite as quickly or often as the regular blades.

In addition to the Cestus, we also got to see the Head of Helios, one of Kratos' new tools. As you'd expect, the weapon is the actual head of the god Helios, and Kratos has come into possession of it by ripping it off Helios' shoulders. Like the Medusa head in the previous games, Kratos can carry it around and use it. Helios' decapitated head is still glowing with godly power and functions as a sort of super-lamp. Its light allows him to see things that regular mortals can't, and the head begins to react when hidden things are nearby. The controller vibrates, and the head collects golden flakes of energy, with more flakes indicating that you're closer to the hidden object. Shine the light on it, and you can reveal the hidden secret. Some of these secrets are necessary to finishing the game, while others are simply there as rewards for cautious players. The head can also be used as a weapon to blind enemies, which stuns them for a short period of time and "absorbs" some of Helios' light, causing them to glow in the dark for a bit. A glowing enemy is one that Kratos can fight even in a pitch-black room, which makes the head a great idea for dark caverns.

The best new weapon in Kratos' arsenal, however, happens to be his enemies. Scattered throughout the stages will be special "rideable" enemies who Kratos can manipulate in order to take advantage of their abilities. Don't mistake this for meaning that Kratos is going to be befriending any of them; using their abilities just happens to be a beneficial side effect of brutally killing them. Take the Harpies, for example. Kratos can latch onto them with his blades and pull himself toward them, and the Harpies will try to pull away, although to no avail. Every time Kratos stabs the Harpies, they'll reflexively jerk into the air, moving Kratos a bit higher and further forward. He can stab one about three times before the Harpy's body gives out and begins to fall, at which point Kratos can leap to a new Harpy and continue the process, until he's reached his destination. For those looking for a little more power, there is also the enormous Cyclops. Kratos scrambles up the monster and digs his blades into the creature's vulnerable flesh, twisting and turning the weapons to make the gigantic creature do what he wants. In this particular case, he can use it to tear through enemy formations and brutalize weaker foes, at least until the point where Kratos leaps off the Cyclops and tears its eye out with his bare hands.


It's a good thing that Kratos has all these new abilities, since his enemies have gotten bigger and nastier. We're still not clear on the exact reason for it, but Kratos seems to have made enemies of both the gods and the Titans, which means that the strongest people in existence are eager to smite the Spartan warrior. Kratos' only real advantage seems to come from the fact that they want to kill each other as much as they want him dead. Our demo took place during a battle between the aforementioned Helios and one of the Titans, a tremendous beast seemingly made of fire and magma. They two were locked in combat with no seeming victor in sight while Kratos fought enemies in the foreground, having to contend with the occasional bombs falling from Helios's flaming chariot. While this happened, Kratos also had to contend with a centaur, a new "commander" enemy, who can control swarms of weaker foes. In the demo, at the centaur's command, all of his smaller allies would dogpile on Kratos, burying the Spartan under a pile of enemies until he burst free.

Eventually, Kratos used a ballista to knock Helios off-course and directly into the Titan's hand, allowing the Titan to crush the god and throw his weakened body onto a nearby ledge. Kratos quickly encountered another new enemy: the phalanx. A group of shield-wielding minions, they quickly surrounded Helios and formed an unbreakable shield around him. Kratos can eventually beat his way through the shields with the Cestus, but the real answer came in the form of a Cyclops. One quick ride on the Cyclops later, the phalanx was in pieces, and Helios was left undefended and easy prey for Kratos.

God of War III is looking like more God of War, and that isn't a bad thing at all. The game looks just as fun and brutal as ever, and the new mechanics add an interesting twist to some of the more common enemies in the game, turning them from annoying foes into useful tools. In the wake of the countless God of War-inspired games that have cropped up in recent years, it's good to see that the original can still continue to strive toward new measures of excellence. It's a safe bet that if you liked God of War or its sequel, you're going to enjoy the third game, and even newcomers to the franchise will enjoy the easy-to-learn gameplay, engrossing story and fantastic art design.

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