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Hands-On With The First Few Minutes Of God Of War III

Kratos is back for a third and final outing, and he is not messing around.


 That is a sizable stone lady!
Sitting down with a pretty much finalized, full copy of God of War III last week made me realize two things. One, the design team at Sony's Santa Monica studio isn't exactly rocking the boat with regard to game design and mechanics. This is God of War, full stop. Hit the square button for a light attack, triangle for a heavy, mix them up to form combos, or grab a guy and rip him in half. If you've ever played a God of War game, you know how this works. Hell, if you've never played one, you probably still have a pretty good idea.

The other thing that occurred to me--the thing that immediately overrode my slight reservations at how familiar it all felt--was, Sony Santa Monica is not messing around here. This might play just like the old God of War games, but it looks nothing like them. It hardly looks like anything else on the market. I haven't been this impressed by wild camera tricks and raw visual fidelity since Uncharted 2, and you know how that turned out.

As the purportedly final installment in the trilogy that focuses on Kratos' story, this game starts big, picking up right where the last one left off, with Kratos and the enormous Titans stomping their way right up Mt. Olympus to take on the gods themselves. The over-the-top absurdity of the things happening on the screen leap out and smack you in the face as soon as you start playing. Kratos is riding on the bosom of a 500-foot-tall stone woman. He's fighting from her breast with Poseidon's giant horse monster. It's made out of water and, apparently, crablegs. Everything from harpies to a Titan made from molten rock is fighting to the death around you. I don't think "subtlety" exists in Santa Monica's vocabulary. But then this wouldn't be God of War if there were anything reserved about it whatsoever.

I wouldn't have believed everything I saw was running in real time unless Sony had explicitly said it was. It wasn't the texture quality or exacting level of geometric detail that impressed me but more the way the action was presented. There are times during that fight between Kratos and the crabby seahorse that the camera rapidly draws back seemingly a mile into the sky, until our Spartan hero is barely a few reddish pixels against a sea of grey ones. Then it flies back down to ground level again in a matter of seconds, and you're back to swinging those flaming chain blades again. Sometimes, you resume control of Kratos before you even realize it, simply because video game cameras aren't supposed to go this crazy while you're actually playing the game. But here they do.

Of course, you need those kinds of enormous, rapid changes in perspective when one of your principle characters is a hundred times bigger than the other one, but it's still a little jarring the first time it happens.  


 WHAT IS THAT THING

Again, though, the action in God of War III is straight out of the series' tried-and-true playbook, or at least what I've played of it so far is. You fight a bunch of skeletal fodder enemies early on, doing chain-whip combos and grabbing them to tear them asunder or (optionally) running around to use them as a battering ram. Later on you take on various phases of the boss fight against Poseidon's unnerving water-horse-thing, then travel inside that big stone lady (Gaia) to relearn how to swing and climb, then see the enormous corpse of the previous god of war Ares encased in ice, before you head out and finish killing the horse. Often while hanging upside down. If all this sounds a little disjointed it's only because the action all comes flying at you roughly at the speed of sound.

Once you've dispensed with Poseidon's minion, taking on the god of the sea himself is pretty cool, since he assumes an oversized form that looks identical to his normal incarnation except he too is made entirely of water. Also, he's caught in Gaia's massive stone grasp for most of the battle, so you get to beat on him with impunity while he shouts at you, which culminates in Kratos launching himself straight through the watery exterior and knocking Poseidon's man-sized true form to the ground.

 Kratos does his best work upside down.
That action began one of the more unsettling quick time events I've played in recent memory: The death of Poseidon, at the hands of Kratos, from Poseidon's perspective. Kratos hurls and bashes around the former deity for a couple of minutes as you see Poseidon's view dim and bloody repeatedly under the assault. Here's the kicker: at the end, Kratos picks you up, raises his thumbs directly over your eyes, and the game exhorts you to push in the two analog sticks to gouge your own eyes out. Every time a God of War game comes out, I wonder how the designers will be able to come up with something gorier and more unsettling than the last time. It seems they've not only done that, but found possibly the best use ever for pushing in two analog sticks at the same time.

I wish I could tell you more about later areas of God of War III, but the worldwide issue with PlayStation 3s has kept me from digging further into our review copy at the time of this writing. I can say right now that if more God of War is what you crave, you can probably skip the reviews and go straight to grabbing this on release day. Otherwise, my snap judgement is that in terms of sheer visual spectacle, this is on a whole different plane than other recent character-driven action games, but of course we'll need to see more of it before making firmer statements. We'll be able to show you video of some of this build next week, so come back then to get a closer look of your own. 
 
Until then, here's the last time we got hands on with God of War III. Remember that?   
 
  
Brad Shoemaker on Google+
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Posted by Brad

 That is a sizable stone lady!
Sitting down with a pretty much finalized, full copy of God of War III last week made me realize two things. One, the design team at Sony's Santa Monica studio isn't exactly rocking the boat with regard to game design and mechanics. This is God of War, full stop. Hit the square button for a light attack, triangle for a heavy, mix them up to form combos, or grab a guy and rip him in half. If you've ever played a God of War game, you know how this works. Hell, if you've never played one, you probably still have a pretty good idea.

The other thing that occurred to me--the thing that immediately overrode my slight reservations at how familiar it all felt--was, Sony Santa Monica is not messing around here. This might play just like the old God of War games, but it looks nothing like them. It hardly looks like anything else on the market. I haven't been this impressed by wild camera tricks and raw visual fidelity since Uncharted 2, and you know how that turned out.

As the purportedly final installment in the trilogy that focuses on Kratos' story, this game starts big, picking up right where the last one left off, with Kratos and the enormous Titans stomping their way right up Mt. Olympus to take on the gods themselves. The over-the-top absurdity of the things happening on the screen leap out and smack you in the face as soon as you start playing. Kratos is riding on the bosom of a 500-foot-tall stone woman. He's fighting from her breast with Poseidon's giant horse monster. It's made out of water and, apparently, crablegs. Everything from harpies to a Titan made from molten rock is fighting to the death around you. I don't think "subtlety" exists in Santa Monica's vocabulary. But then this wouldn't be God of War if there were anything reserved about it whatsoever.

I wouldn't have believed everything I saw was running in real time unless Sony had explicitly said it was. It wasn't the texture quality or exacting level of geometric detail that impressed me but more the way the action was presented. There are times during that fight between Kratos and the crabby seahorse that the camera rapidly draws back seemingly a mile into the sky, until our Spartan hero is barely a few reddish pixels against a sea of grey ones. Then it flies back down to ground level again in a matter of seconds, and you're back to swinging those flaming chain blades again. Sometimes, you resume control of Kratos before you even realize it, simply because video game cameras aren't supposed to go this crazy while you're actually playing the game. But here they do.

Of course, you need those kinds of enormous, rapid changes in perspective when one of your principle characters is a hundred times bigger than the other one, but it's still a little jarring the first time it happens.  


 WHAT IS THAT THING

Again, though, the action in God of War III is straight out of the series' tried-and-true playbook, or at least what I've played of it so far is. You fight a bunch of skeletal fodder enemies early on, doing chain-whip combos and grabbing them to tear them asunder or (optionally) running around to use them as a battering ram. Later on you take on various phases of the boss fight against Poseidon's unnerving water-horse-thing, then travel inside that big stone lady (Gaia) to relearn how to swing and climb, then see the enormous corpse of the previous god of war Ares encased in ice, before you head out and finish killing the horse. Often while hanging upside down. If all this sounds a little disjointed it's only because the action all comes flying at you roughly at the speed of sound.

Once you've dispensed with Poseidon's minion, taking on the god of the sea himself is pretty cool, since he assumes an oversized form that looks identical to his normal incarnation except he too is made entirely of water. Also, he's caught in Gaia's massive stone grasp for most of the battle, so you get to beat on him with impunity while he shouts at you, which culminates in Kratos launching himself straight through the watery exterior and knocking Poseidon's man-sized true form to the ground.

 Kratos does his best work upside down.
That action began one of the more unsettling quick time events I've played in recent memory: The death of Poseidon, at the hands of Kratos, from Poseidon's perspective. Kratos hurls and bashes around the former deity for a couple of minutes as you see Poseidon's view dim and bloody repeatedly under the assault. Here's the kicker: at the end, Kratos picks you up, raises his thumbs directly over your eyes, and the game exhorts you to push in the two analog sticks to gouge your own eyes out. Every time a God of War game comes out, I wonder how the designers will be able to come up with something gorier and more unsettling than the last time. It seems they've not only done that, but found possibly the best use ever for pushing in two analog sticks at the same time.

I wish I could tell you more about later areas of God of War III, but the worldwide issue with PlayStation 3s has kept me from digging further into our review copy at the time of this writing. I can say right now that if more God of War is what you crave, you can probably skip the reviews and go straight to grabbing this on release day. Otherwise, my snap judgement is that in terms of sheer visual spectacle, this is on a whole different plane than other recent character-driven action games, but of course we'll need to see more of it before making firmer statements. We'll be able to show you video of some of this build next week, so come back then to get a closer look of your own. 
 
Until then, here's the last time we got hands on with God of War III. Remember that?   
 
  
Staff
Posted by Bureksasutlijom

You know this game is going to be great.And this just confirms it.

Posted by canucks23

I've yet to play a GoW game, but the demo was pretty legit so i'm thinkin i'll pick up the Collection and GoW3 when it comes out.

Posted by alConn

Looks like God of War...Bayonetta, Dante's Inferno, now GoW3...lotta action games this year.

Posted by Hamz

What peaked my attention with this game is just how strikingly great it looks. Visually the quality of the game seems far better than I'd have expected it to be originally. Very excited for it :)

Posted by artofwar420

Squee is the word I'm looking for.

Posted by unreal999

GEt HYPE!!!!

Posted by DeShawn2ks

Me want NOW!!!!

Posted by _Phara0h_

Well last moth I played GoW 1 and 2 for the first time and I stoked for this one can't wait till it's out...

Posted by captain_clayman

this game looks SOOOO fucking rad, i need to play this shit!

Posted by OmegaPirate

Im drooooooooooooooooooooooooooling

Edited by blacklab

Anything that gets Brad excited...

Posted by lemon360

nice

Posted by scarace360

i think i just pssed my pants while reading this. I need new pants. But while getting those pants ill think i might as well get in line at gamestop now cause it looks like it will be a long line.

Posted by RsistncE

I guess Jaffe wasn't kidding when he said, "God of War III is going to blow your fucking minds."

Posted by DeShawn2ks
@RsistncE said:
" I guess Jaffe wasn't kidding when he said, "God of War III is going to blow your fucking minds." "
Consider my mind blown.  Thats how my hair got like this.
Posted by Milkman

Holy.....SHIT SOUNDS NUTS!

Edited by Sorax

The miracle of the internet has exposed me to all manner of disgusting imagery throughout the years. I had a Rotten.com phase which I ended when it no longer elicited a reaction. So I consider myself a relatively desensitized guy. But I found the E3 demo of GOW3 repulsive.
 
Kratos doesn't just kill his enemies, he tortures them. The violence was gratuitous to me. The fidelity was amazing, as I'm sure the game play will be too,  but I find watching it to be the opposite of fun. I'm curious if anyone else shared my reaction?

Posted by MarkWahlberg

Am I the only one who's really bothered by Kratos? I mean, I enjoy a 'kill everything' attitude every now and again, but he never seems to particularly deserve what he gets away with. And finding new ways to kill people just makes the death itself meaningless.

Posted by THE_END

 Great job on this hands-on article Brad.  Keep up the great work.  I will definitely take your advice and purchase this on the day it is released since I enjoyed GOW 1 and 2 sooooo much.

Posted by Adziboy
@alConn said:
"Looks like God of War...Bayonetta, Dante's Inferno, now GoW3...lotta action games this year. "

No. Bayonetta and Dante's Inferno looks like God of War 3. I don't care if it came out before it but: GOW3 = GOW 1 & 2 and they did come out before.
Posted by TheFreeMan

Wait, he kills Poseidon that early?
 
Then what the hell was the giant water dude in the leaked (haha) screenshots? Interesting.

Posted by Akeldama

fuck yes

Posted by Gabriel
@Sorax said:
" The miracle of the internet has exposed me to all manner of disgusting imagery throughout the years. I had a Rotten.com phase which I ended when it no longer elicited a reaction. So I consider myself a relatively desensitized guy. But I found the E3 demo of GOW3 repulsive.  Kratos doesn't just kill his enemies, he tortures them. The violence was gratuitous to me. The fidelity was amazing, as I'm sure the game play will be too,  but I find watching it to be the opposite of fun. I'm curious if anyone else shared my reaction? "
That's his character he no longer cares about anything or anyone but himself, in a sense he is selfish and the lowest form of life, but at the same time he is liberating the entire universe from the control of the Gods, in fact it wouldn't surprise me if Kratos is in fact the real villain the whole time.
Edited by momentarylogic

I forgot about the quick look, game looks superb... I also laughed a good bit when watching again too. 
 
good times

Posted by SJSchmidt93

Finally got my hands on the demo this week and  
 
OH MY GOD...

Posted by TiggNine

so brad, does this mean Jaffe wasn't flipping out and going crazy with those blog and twitter posts? lol
Posted by TorgoGrooves89

I really wish i owned a PS3.
Posted by VicRattlehead

totally sounds like god of war....and you know what thats a fucking awesome thing

Posted by Advertisement
@TorgoGrooves89: I really wish mine was letting me play games right now
Posted by Gabriel
Posted by Spoonman671

FYI:  PS3s are all back to normal now.

Posted by EvGar

AUGH I SO THOUGHT THIS WAS A VIDEO. crap.

Posted by TheHT

awesome preview man! makes me wanna put weapon upgrading aside in demons souls and dig in to the god of war collection.

Posted by moelarrycurly

Stretching my thumbs now.  They're gonna get a workout.

Posted by Jinto

Why is Brad always sleepy?

Edited by ViciousAnchovy
@Sorax: It's definitely gratuitous violence. I thought ripping off Helios' head was a bit much, but I find decapitation disturbing even in Fable. Stabbing the minotaur in the eye with its own horn is gruesome, but I at least find the concept cool. I think what bothers me most about the series isn't the blood and gore, but the killing of innocents, like that guy on the wall in the demo, or the panicky guy who wouldn't let the drawbridge down for you in the first game. 
 
I wish I hadn't looked up rotten.com after reading your comment; at least God of War isn't real. (I'm assuming it's real from the brief glimpse I allowed myself and from what I read about the site on Wikipedia.)
Posted by MaddProdigy

I was hopin to hear this. So stoked for this game, gonna be epic

Posted by DrZoltan
@Adziboy said:
" @alConn said:
"Looks like God of War...Bayonetta, Dante's Inferno, now GoW3...lotta action games this year. "
No. Bayonetta and Dante's Inferno looks like God of War 3. I don't care if it came out before it but: GOW3 = GOW 1 & 2 and they did come out before. "
I always thought Bayonetta was closer to Devil May Cry that say, god of war
Posted by Gabriel
@DrZoltan said:
" @Adziboy said:
" @alConn said:
"Looks like God of War...Bayonetta, Dante's Inferno, now GoW3...lotta action games this year. "
No. Bayonetta and Dante's Inferno looks like God of War 3. I don't care if it came out before it but: GOW3 = GOW 1 & 2 and they did come out before. "
I always thought Bayonetta was closer to Devil May Cry that say, god of war "
It is, and Jaffe always said he ripped off of GOW from Devil May Cry 
Posted by Aarny91

Skipping this one, Brad. I don't want any indication of what's coming my way :P

Posted by RobotHamster
@Aarny said:
" Skipping this one, Brad. I don't want any indication of what's coming my way :P "
Posted by bybeach

I might actually get this game someday. my attitude is no slur intended, and I have a good idea what brad is saying.  Well Executed is leaking out everywhere.
 
Guess i didn`t want to play a  meglomaniac bald guy with a telephone pole permanently shoved up his ass. But I may have to see this show, and to do that, I will have to play GOW3.  Sometime.

Posted by HT101

This game looks pretty good.  I would get a PS3 for this game.

Edited by Fawk

Repetitive CRAP.
 
How can people play this shit.
 
The decapitation thing is completely over the line too.  I have never had a problem with game violence but I do have a problem with that.

Posted by HatKing

DAMN IT ALL!  I for some reason was under the impression this was going to be a video!  I was wondering why the didn't say "Quick Look!"
Posted by Mancotron

It sounds brutal, savage, and nihilistic. In other words it sounds like God of War. Sign me up.
Posted by stinky
@canucks23: its a good series but i'd hold off on buying all those at the same time. 
its action is repetitive so you'll need a break inbetween each title.
Posted by LiquidPrince

Beyond epic.

Posted by xionpunk

Ah, why did GOW3, FFXIII, and Just Cause 2 have to come out in the same month!?

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