click to Titan-size!
Something to note: they did make a big point of telling us they would not be discussing a release date. They said they'd be announcing that at E3, which leads us to assume that they still have hurdles to overcome and aren't clear how those will affect their schedule. So will this game be out by the end of 2009? We doubt it. There were plenty of holes in what we were shown, including some fundamental gameplay/story ideas that weren't hammered down yet.
However, what we were able to see looks like it could be worth the wait for PS3 owners. It's basically God of War II on steroids which, considering the popularity – and quality! – of the first two titles, isn't necessarily a bad thing. Read on for our impressions, chock full of tidbits and new info about everyone's favorite angry bald Greek guy.
So, who is this Stig Asmussen and what are his creds? Mr. Asmussen was the lead environment artist on God of War and the art director on God of War II before working his way up to game director on God of War III, and he took us through the vision for God of War, which is basically the same saber-rattling we've heard from most next-gen developers: "We want to define this generation, and our goal is a commitment to delivering a title that helps defines the industry by combining compelling gameplay and story with top-notch graphics and production values." We can only assume that most companies go into the game development with something close to that in mind.
"Kratos 3.0 wouldn't even be possible on PS2."
They told us they weren't going to be talking about story but – spoiler alert! – they did say that this game is all about Kratos and his relentless desire to have revenge against Zeus. In this game he'll be "setting the mysteries of Olympus ablaze," though we're not quite sure what that means yet. They also went on to explain that the war between the Gods and the Titans will be reignited in this game, that it's meant to bridge the series, and will feature an epic finale that is meant to close the door on Kratos' storyline. They'll also be getting inside the mind of Kratos in order to show exactly why he's so pissed off and driven.
To that end, they've added some new elements while retaining all of the familiar gameplay. Combos and "follow the button mashing" bosses are still the crux of the gameplay, but they've put in things like rideable enemy characters, so if you've ever shared our lifelong dream of hopping on the back of a cyclops and piloting it around with full control and combat abilities, this game will finally give us that chance. There's a new combat system that allows you to change weapons on the fly and those weapons are now stance-based, although they didn't go into too much detail on that. They did say that Kratos' moves will change depending on whether he's facing 5 enemies or 50 enemies, and each weapon set is now streamlined to feature combos that create similar attacks no matter what you're wielding.
Afterwards, they showed us a new trailer for the game that was created entirely using the in-game engine, although it was created months ago and is much longer version of the same footage that was shown in the VGA trailer. While it's very impressive looking (see above!) we were eager for them to move on to the demo which – sensing our anticipation – they did.
The God of War III demo level we were shown takes place in "The Fortified City," but don't get too comfortable with that name, it may have a different one at launch. Kratos is fighting through a level while an unnamed Titan battles Helios, the sun god, in the background. He's there searching for a hidden back door to Olympus called the "Door of Eos," although it can only be revealed by magic (we were gonna say!). Kratos starts this level off facing several skeletons, which are fairly easily dispatched. They use this time to show us one of Kratos' new moves: seize an enemy by hitting the square button, hold them in front like a shield, and run pell-mell into other foes and knock 'em to the ground.
"Seize an enemy, hold them in front like a shield, and run pell-mell into other foes and knock 'em to the ground."