Kratos finally gets to the ballista, and helps the Titan out. The massive juggernaut snatches Helios out of the sky and smashes him into a higher part of the level before resuming his climb. A flock of harpies who were initially scared away by the Titan return as he lumbers out of the frame, and Kratos is able to use them as a sort of "flying bridge" by grabbing onto their legs and leaping from harpy to harpy. He then engages in some wall-climbing and ledge-walking, and he has a new "fast move" on the ledges that lets him boogie along at a faster pace.
"It's a slow process ... also, it's fairly stomach-churning."
Once everyone is taken care of, Kratos attacks Helios and quite literally peels his head off in a spectacularly horrific scene. With head removed, Helios' eyes sink into his skull and his mouth and eyesockets begin to glow eerily. Kratos can then stick the head in his pack (which you can't see, and apparently can hold anything, just like GoWII), or he can keep it out and use it like a lantern ... a lantern with a hair handle. An added bonus of the head/lantern is that when it's near something hidden, the controller vibrates and you can use it to reveal things. In this case, it's the Door of Eos, which Kratos illuminates and then opens.
Inside, it's pitch black, and Kratos can only see by using Helios' head/lantern to light the way. He's waylaid by several enemies, but another feature of the head/lantern is that it can temporarily blind enemies, and cause them to glow for a few seconds so you can fight them in the dark. When you pull the head out, the camera shifts to a tight view of Kratos from behind, making it a lot easier to aim the light and engage in combat once you've blinded people. It may sound gimmicky, but this was our favorite part of the demo, and it adds a nifty element of darkness and surprise to Kratos' adventure.
Venturing further, Kratos encounters a massive circular chimney where he puts his Icarus Wings to good use on the extreme updraft; this is a new move called the "Icarus Ascension" and, before long, Kratos is moving at terrific speeds (and you retain full control over him). You'll have to dodge tons of debris and guide yourself through tiny gaps while navigating your way upwards in these sorts of levels. Eventually Kratos reaches the top, but the Titan from below is already up there and takes a swipe at him. Kratos doesn't take too kindly to this sort of thing, so he leaps towards the Titan for an attack and ... the demo ends.
So, how did it look? Extremely nice. Other than a few graphical aberations (in the skeleton battle there was a sort of cone of light that would highlight enemies from time to time) the game looks head/lantern and shoulders better than God of War II. One thing to note was that we didn't see health or magic orbs at all in the demo, although Asmussen assured us that they'd be in the game. "We're not tinkering with what's not broke, they just weren't relevant to the demo."
What was also interesting was that despite all the attention they've given to this being Kratos' last game and a wrap up to the God of War series, Asmussen said "Actually, I don't know what this means for God of War as a series, I just know what's happening in God of War III." Does that mean we'll see another sequel or prequel at some point? It's hard to imagine Sony shutting down a money-making machine like God of War.
The main reason we're skeptical of a 2009 release is that there are some major issues they haven't figured out how to address, first and foremost being that they don't know if Kratos will be stripped of his powers yet again at the beginning of this game or if he'll start with his full abilities (that's a pretty big design decision, no?). Unfazed, Stig told us that it's something that would be worked out on the gameplay side. He also told us that they want to incorporate motion controls, but aren't sure how yet and are trying to figure out how to bring back the sex minigames (the mind boggles).
Combine all that with the expected delays of a "next-gen" development cycle and we imagine they're going to be bending over backwards to get as much done by E3 so they can assess the progress and see if it can make the holiday '09 shopping period. There's not much time until E3 (only 108 days but who's counting?) for them to make that decision (and until we see, and hopefully play, more God of War III).