God of War III: trade demo impressions

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Ross and I tackled God of War III at the Eurogamer Expo, but since then, Patrick found that he was one of the lucky few to get a God of War III demo code from Sony. He sacrificed it to me so I could spend some more time with it in the comfort of my own home. The demo in question is the one from this year’s E3 in June and, so far as we could tell, is exactly the same code that was available to play at the expo.

The very first thing to hit you about God of War III, whether you’re playing or watching, is the graphics. There’s no two ways about it: this game looks incredible. Aesthetically, the demo is seemingly faultless. Smoothly animated, incredibly detailed enemies assault you from all angles, subject to some very impressive lighting effects (shown off particularly well in a section where you need to light your way in spurts with a disembodied head, which can also show you hidden items. Yes.). The backdrops are equally impressive, if not even more so. The most memorable example is the gigantic magma – style creature you’ve no doubt seen in trailers and screenshots. When you first come across him/her/it, it is as a glorified piece of background scenery. Awe inspiring as it might be, spectators may find that the creature’s pre – set animation seems like some sort of interpretative dance.

The next aspect of GoW III to grab your attention will undoubtedly be the gore, and violence in general. It seems that whenever you so much as brush past an enemy, pain will be dealt and blood will flow. This extends to the terrified citizens you will now and again come across. Seeing a poor man running for his life from a horde of undead soldiers, I noticed that a button prompt appeared above his head when I drew close. “Aha!” thought innocent ol’ me. “Perhaps I can help him!” So I fought off the demonic figures closest to him, and pressed the circle button at the appropriate moment.

It was messy.

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This is a game that truly revels in violence. You’ll often see a congratulatory ‘Brutal Kill!’ on screen whenever you, er, kill something in a brutal manner. There’s always plenty of blood and limbs flying around, and the inevitable decapitations fit right in. The whole feel of the combat is unrelenting brutality; you can also pick up ground based enemies roughly your size, and run around using them as a battering ram. That’s even how the game refers to the move.

As a result, the Greek mythology influence can seem rather at odds with the Mortal Kombat style battles. This combat style could be used just as easily in, and would arguably fit better into, a contemporary setting. Speaking for myself, Kratos put me in mind not of a powerful figure of ancient Greek mythology, but of an extraordinarily strong football hooligan swinging goalposts around. The contrast actually made me laugh out loud at a few points.

Nonetheless, it’s impossible to deny that thousands upon thousands of people are going to absolutely love this, GoW veterans and newcomers to the series alike. Newcomers in particular should find the gameplay appealing. Much less daunting than the Devil May Cry games, GoW III’s combat looks impressive and is very easy to pick up and use effectively. At a very basic level, you can if you wish simply hammer the square button to sweep enemies out of the way, or hold down L1 whilst doing so to initiate crowd clearing attacks (you also get a bow for long distance attacks). The simplistic yet powerful attacks mean that the weaker enemies can very rarely get near you, and only the mini – bosses (all of whom must be finished off via QTEs) present in the demo have any chance of killing you. Combine that with the health orbs that fly to you from fallen enemies, opened chests and decimated pottery, and the demo – which is all I can comment on – is something of a walkover.

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The demo also gives a taste of other gameplay elements. Some basic platforming, in the form of hijacking harpies then swinging from one to another; and edging across, dropping down onto, and leaping between ledges (*sigh*). This despite the fact that Kratos has grown wings, which are used in a brief into – the – screen flying section at the end of the demo. The ‘handling’ in this flying section seemed rather sluggish, something that I hope is fixed for the final release.

All in all though it was great fun, and has me significantly more interested in the full release than I was before. As the effortlessly eloquent Kratos would put it: “Rrraaarrgghh!!!!

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Written by Luke K

Luke plays lots of videogames, now and again stopping to write about them. He's the editor in chief at Critical Gamer, which fools him into thinking his life has some kind of value. Chances are, if you pick up a copy of the latest Official PlayStation Magazine or GamesMaster, you'll find something he's written in there. Luke doesn't have a short temper. If you suggest otherwise, he will punch you in the face.

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