Obviously writing about trailers, demos and collector's editions here on PushSquare, we knew a lot about God Of War III. But nothing could prepare us for actually going hands-on with the game. Santa Monica's latest in Sony's biggest pie is brutal.
The first thing God Of War III wants you to notice is the detail in Kratos' model. The demo we played, which is exactly the same as the demo from E3, started out closed in on Kratos' face with the title branded across the screen. As Kratos generally grinds his teeth, a quick stomp of the X button pulls the camera out and drops you into the game.
You're hot on the pursuit of Helios, but naturally there are ton of obstacles along the way. Kratos furiously twitches at the sight of Helio's chariot flying by, his new character model literally brimming with life. Seriously, Kratos looks good in this game. He always looked good on PS2, but now you can see all the detail of his muscles, animation in his face and posture. It just brings the whole experience to life. The backdrops aren't too shabby either, with a rich sky overlooking the grand Greek architecture. David Jaffe said late last year that God Of War III looked like a "renaissance art canvas" and he wasn't far off. The lighting is phenomenal and the colours rich. It'll be amazing to see the final version of the game, as usually the graphics really come together in the last couple of months. Even at this still relatively early stage, the whole game is brimming with life.
Gameplay wise though, this is still God Of War. You hit Square and Triangle to perform light and heavy attacks respectively. Circle lets you grapple, and obviously X allows you to jump. The camera is fixed, giving you an epic sense of scale throughout.
As you mash your way through hordes of familiar enemies, you'll notice the AI has been dramatically improved. Enemies work as a team now, usually directed by one bigger foe, making battles much more challenging. The strategies remain the same though. Those of you who were experts of the original God Of War games will find much familiarity here.
The demo opens up into a battle with a demonic looking snake-goat-lion-thingy — in which you must successfully rip apart every element of its body to destroy. Set in the background, a gigantic fire based titan will pull apart buildings and genuinely check out proceedings. He's gorgeously animated, showcasing an enormous sense of scale. In typical God Of War fashion, you'll need to use a glowing cannon to take down Helios in a slightly clunky sequence that's probably the weakest part of the demo.
Once Helios is down you'll need to platform your way across an enormous pit using the bodies of flying beasts. Once complete, you'll find yourself face to face with Helios, your prey. He will be protected by an army of soldiers, so you'll need to jump aboard a Cyclops to break them apart. Of course, once you're done with the cyclops, Kratos manages to take time to rip out his eye, and then subsequently the head off Helios. There's no talking, no banter, nothing. Kratos just gets it done.
The demo concludes with Kratos using an air flow to rise up to the gigantic fire titan. We're not shown anymore. It's a real testament to Sony and Santa Monica's faith in their product that they've released a demo both this early and this polished. As we type, God Of War III is still approximately 5, if not 6 months away, which is a fairly long time in game development. And yet confidence in the product remains sky high.
It's also interesting that the subject of the demo remains Sony's only released content on God Of War III. It feels familiar, yes, but there are still approximately 8 more hours worth of content hidden somewhere in Santa Monica's building. We're so excited to see more at this point. Consider our appetite whet.