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Hands-on: This is God of War III


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I summed up the E3 demo of God of War III with this opener: "God of War, in HD." That's not a "bad" thing per se, but for a franchise that's been known for pushing the graphical envelope, it simply wasn't enough. Thankfully, my concerns were obliterated last month when I got to play the latest build of the game. It only took a minute or so before I was able to say "this is God of War III -- and what it was always meant to be."

The demo was incredibly short, perhaps two or three minutes long. But that's all Santa Monica Studios needed to effectively demonstrate the scope of their vision. The graphical improvements were immediately noticeable: motion blur, depth of field, better lighting and special effects. However, it was the cinematic camera work and the incredibly inspired level design that really left an impression.

Once again, this demo takes place on the Titan, making his way to the top of Mount Olympus. What the VGA trailer failed to capture effectively, though, is how dynamic battles will feel atop a moving giant. Remember how impressive Uncharted 2's dynamic set pieces were? Imagine scenes like Uncharted's collapsing building and train, and remove the sense of "reality" that Nathan Drake has to adhere to.

Gallery: God of War 3 (01/18/10) | 7 Photos

For some reason, Sony has refused to provide new footage from the game, so I can only describe the experience in words. Taking control of Kratos, I run up the Titan's arm, easily dispatching some skeleton minions. The camera zooms out, and shows a spider-like creature clawing into the Titan, causing it to flail about. As I try to fight this creature, the Titan continues to move, and the world shakes around me violently. The spider spews out a water attack, and after a few dodges and a few clean strikes, the Titan gets stung, I'm thrown off the giant. Hanging on with one arm, I try to climb back up, other arm swinging at the spider, still clinging to the Titan. As I make my way back up, the camera zooms out to show the Titan, and then zooms rapidly back to Kratos, as I continue to fight the "mini boss."

Unfortunately, this would be far more exciting if you could simply see how this scene plays out.

There were some unexpected consequences from my short time with the demo. Dante's Inferno, which was demoed at the same event, didn't look uninteresting -- it looked downright "last gen," resembling God of War Collection more than Kratos' upcoming adventure. PS3 owners would be wise to wait a month, exclusive collector's edition be damned. Kratos is back.

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