Developer: SCE Studios Santa Monica
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Also on: N/A (PlayStation 3 Exclusive)
Console Played on: PlayStation 3
Release Date: March 2010
Age Rating: ESRB M
First thing’s first. I have never played a God Of War title. Apart from the Kratos add-on in Everybody’s Golf: World Tour, I haven’t controlled the lumbering Spartan, never ripped heads off Gods, never got a combo of 100 stylish, deadly, brutal, slightly sickening slashes to soldier fodder.
You see, now I’ve played God Of War III. Now I’ve done all those things, and more. Now, I am happy to say; I’ve been converted.
Seeing the demo at E3 I was skeptical. Yeah, ok, graphics look nice. Oh wow, you randomly button mash until nothing moves? Great. It just didn’t seem like that much fun; you went into an area, hit square until your thumb started to bleed, then went to the other area. I didn’t see what all the fuss was about.
So, I started off where the demo at E3 started. The menu screen shows Kratos (big white sparsely-clothed Spartan, stylish red lines, wears ashes, you can’t miss him), and behind him, roaming mountains and a cloudy, bright sky. You hit the start button, it zooms out and you’re playing. It still takes time to realize that the menu screen is actually all in-game; it looks so beautiful. The scale is epic, Kratos is perfectly modelled, the sky is the sort of thing you’d see in Lord Of The Rings. It really does blow you away. Though don’t look too closely; you’ll find Kratos clipping into object, rock textures look bland and blurry, and there are some underwhelming textures, but nothing that can’t be ironed out by the March release and seeing as this demo build is a good few months old now, probably will be.
Still in awe of the graphics, I come across me first batch of victims; the usual generic blood fella’s. I do what any man in their right mind does; hit any button like my life depends on it. And it works; as I slash and hack away, blood stains the floor and red orbs fly out of dead bodies. It’s kinda satisfying, but a little bit…uninspiring. Next area, more enemies, same tactics. I dispatch them without loosing too much health. And continue onwards.
Boxes are scattered around the area, and opening them grants you green orbs that restore health. Which I don’t need for the next bit; the harpies. When one flies above you, you hold L1 and circle, and try steer it to where you need to go, pressing X to jump off. It’s easily the worst bit of the demo; it camera doesn’t help, the steering is slow and cumbersome, and in the end, you don’t really know what buttons your pressing or tapping and holding down. Still, you muddle through.
And then things get interesting. As you exit into a huge plaza, at least 20 men come out to greet you. With swords. Same again, I think. But oh no; a huge Centaur exits a gate and faces me. Aww hell. And here’s where God Of War really comes into its own, and really hits you hard. It’s not about button mashing, it’s about tactics, of all things. Darting out the way of the charging beast, I systematically dispatch any unlucky opposition, again jumping out the way of the half horse, half man, repeating. It’s a thrilling experience, not only because of the combat, but also because in the background, a huge (and I really do mean huge) molten titan (It probably has a name, but my mythology never was that good) is swatting at the Sun God Helios. It’s truly empowering.
After taking care of the little men, with some occasional camara trouble (it can be hard to identify yourself when in a sea of 30 other bodies), I turn to the creature. Me and him. Man and beast. It’s so on. He charges, I dive out the way, hit him a few times, then he hits me. This routine is repeated several times until I finally get the ability to enter a Quick Time Event, which end in me…kinda slicing his guts out. Unfortunately, the body disappears after a second. I don’t know whether this is a placeholder, or whether they’ll remain, but it is very disappointing to only catch a glimpse of its intestines.
So, after a messy fight, I’ve dispatched the beast. Oh, but it doesn’t end there. Move on the next area, and you’re met by a Chimera (not the Resistance kind). It’s deadly. So deadly, that I die very quickly. Twice. And that’s when it clicks. Sure, you can muddle through waves of soldiers, but for the bosses, you need a totally different style. You wait until it charges. You move. You attack, maybe a combo of 3 or 4. You move out the way. You wait for him to charge. And repeat. It takes a while to get used to the change of pace, but it adds unfathomable amounts of depth to the game. It was around this point, as I was systematically chopping the snake, lion and goat/dragon heads off until a final finisher when I stabbed it through the head with its own horn. I felt on top of the world. It’s a shame then, that the body again vanishes in a blink of an eye.
Now I’m ready. Racing to get to the other side of a huge crevasse after making Helios crash and before the titan squashes me, I have to use the harpies again (boo!), but then, I’m back to fighting the bad dudes. And I’m a beast. Almost 20 of them in a corridor, and I get a combo of 100 or so. I know what to do now; no button mashing, no random flails, but purposeful charges, doges, jumps, dives, I’m a beast, I’m the one, you can’t touch me, I’m the best, my style is impetuous. My defence is impregnable and I’m just ferocious. I want your heart, I want to eat your children.
Yeah, you get into it a lot.
Finally, I ‘get’ God Of War III. And I love it. As if the game knows, that, it sends me a group of guards with shield and a huge lumbering Cyclops (It’s big a carries a tree trunk. Best avoid.) to stop me from getting to the spluttering Helios. I jump of the back of the thing and ride it, much like a Titan in Batman: Arkham Asylum, smashing all other puny minions out the park. Finally, I dismount the beast, but not before ripping its eye out. Incredibly sickening, but again, the body stays for a second only.
Oh, but then you get the really sickening bit. I gagged a little. You pull Helios’ head off. Clean off. With your hands. It’s horrific, but awesome at the same time. I can now use Helios’ head as a torch. I’m sure that science has something to say about the realism aspect of that, but who cares; it’s awesome, and when traversing the dank caves that follow, really shows off the beautiful lighting.
As if the game couldn’t get any better, it shoves a ‘Icarus Vent’ in me face. It’s just a huge hole the sends you upwards. During this little mini-game, you have to avoid falling debris from the surface. It’s faster than Wipeout or Burnout or anything else out there, and my heart was pounding all the way though. As you exit, right in front of the huge Titan, you lung at its face, and the demo ends.
Closing Comments: God Of War III is stunning. Minor graphical hiccups and the occasional camera upset don’t detach from a game that is truly sublime. 2010 is looking to be an incredibly good year for games.