E3 Impressions: God of War III
Over the past few years the God of War series has become synonymous with many things: insane battles with humongous mythological creatures, epic cinematic sequences, gory quick time events that always end baldy for whomever you’re fighting, and a couple of topless, well-endowed ladies on a bed waiting to be ‘serviced’ by the rough-and-tough Kratos himself. The one hurdle the franchise has been unwilling to tackle (to the disappointment of all God of War fans) is high definition. Well prepare to have your mind blown, kiddies. In the upcoming final chapter of the incredibly popular franchise, Kratos will bring Mt. Olympus to its knees in stunning high-def and the series has never looked better. The gamer-man-gods are appeased at last!
It’s pretty safe to assume that God of War III was the most anticipated title being shown at the whole conference. As such, the line to play God of War III was never empty (something that came no shock to this blogger). Every day there was a sizable crowd waiting in line for up to two hours just to get a taste of what the new God of War was going to be like. And Sony wasn’t going to disappoint. Of all the demos at the show, God of War III presented the longest chunk, clocking in at about 25-30 minutes and consisting of two mini-boss fights and a gigantic, volcanic titan climbing all over the background. I, finally, got my chance to play it at the very end of day one, just before closing. Grabbing a hold of the dual shock and taking a seat on a cushy ottoman (in front of a 40-somthing-inch Sony flat screen) with a giddy smile on my face, I loaded up the game and instantly remembered why this game is so damn popular.
Like with the previous entries in the series, God of War III takes everything you know from the previous games and infuses it with a ton of ‘wild’, ‘crazy’, and ‘bat-shit-insane’. There are new weapons, new enemies, new spells, and whole new ways to rip, tear, bludgeon, garrote, slice, stab, impale, and decapitate any foe that’s dumb enough to get in your way. You’ll rip harpies wings off after using them to float across gaps, use the undead as a battering ram against other enemies right before you tear the poor bastards in two, and you’ll slice and dice centaurs with reckless abandon, only to cackle with reckless glee when you finish them with an impromptu y-incision.
The controls will feel right at home to anyone who has played either of the previous games in the series. While GoW’s combat has never held up compared to those found in the Ninja Gaiden or Devil May Cry series, the combat feels like it walks the perfect line of being challenging but not to the extent where it stops being fun. Pulling off really satisfying and over-the-top attacks never requires more than a button press or two (hello all you button-mashers). And you’re never required to learn Tekken 3 length button combos in order to defeat the more troublesome of baddies. And, as with the previous games, you have no control over the camera, but the game is designed from the ground up with camera placement in mind, translating into a game that always feels epic and amazingly cinematic.
Speaking of how it looks, thank the blood-soaked gods for this series finally making the jump to HD. I thought God of War II looked amazing in standard def…but now that I’ve seen the promise land, I don’t think I can ever look back again. HD gaming is the only way to go from here on out (I’m looking at you Persona 4) and God of War, specifically, was always destined to be in HD. Everything just pops off the screen like never before; the volcanic explosions coming off of Kratos’ swords, the buckets of blood spraying all across the environment, the gigantic fire monster climbing all over the environment (which I assume is Sparta). All of these things look fantastic. I mean, I hate to gush so profusely, seeing as this is only the demo (so I’ll try to find something to nit-pick about), but the game looks amazingly polished. Okay, so there were a few rendering bugs here and there, some moments didn’t activate quite right, and I saw a unit or two crash on occasion. But for a game that’s still nine months (at least) away from being released it sure impressed the hell out of me.
One thing that everyone should expect is this: GoW III is not going to reinvent the wheel. If you didn’t like the earlier installments of the game because of gore, lack of tactical combat (a la Gaiden or Devil may Cry), quick time events, passive camera, or what have you, be prepared to dislike this game for the same reasons. It’s a GoW game at heart and it makes no apologies for doing what it knows best. But if you’re prepared to play a game that revels in going for the jugular (literally) whenever possible, GoW is certainly shaping up to be the must have game for next year. And for this GoW fan, the game can’t ship fast enough.