Sony showed off God of War III during its press conference yesterday, but when the screen faded to black just before Kratos was set to fire a catapult toward a flaming red titan, we were left wanting more. We were lucky enough to get a more in-depth look at Kratos’ latest adventure today, which started at the same place as the trailer, but it continued on much further, showcasing even more gruesome finishing moves and fantastic new abilities. We still haven’t had a chance to get our hands on the game, but it looks to be just as fun and horrific as the previous games in the series.
The stage we saw takes place in Olympia as Kratos continues his climb toward the summit of Mount Olympus to finish off Zeus once and for all. Deicide isn’t often explored in video games, and it’s quite satisfying to see Kratos finish off one supposed immortal after another. Although Sony Santa Monica has no idea what will become of this franchise in the future, we were told that the third God of War wraps up the story nicely, giving a rewarding conclusion to Kratos’ quest for vengeance.
Zeus has no interest in being killed by a mere man, so he sends wave after wave of his soldiers to halt your progress. At one point, Kratos has to square off against a centaur that comes with his own army of skeletal warriors. Although he can only give an order to attack in the demo, we were told that he will have a more developed military mind in the finished game, directing his minions to counter your offensive assault. When his drones are quickly disposed of, you get to fight the centaur, and it’s a battle that ends in a bloody mess. When his health is low, you can activate your finishing move, which sees Kratos tearing the entrails from his writhing body. Disgusting but so cool.
While Kratos is busy killing the nasty creatures from Greek mythology, Helios is flying overhead dropping balls of fire. You can’t just go after Zeus immediately; you have to kill the lesser gods first. The demo ended right before Kratos fired a ballista, but we got a chance to see where the shell landed. When Helios and his flaming chariot cross your path, you can shoot him down, causing him to crash into the angry titan in the background. You continue to hunt down the fire god throughout the level, but we won’t spoil anything else.
There are a number of cool touches in the game as well. After a particularly brutal fight, Kratos' feet will be covered in blood, and he’ll leave bloody footprints for the next few steps he takes. His body can also become covered in blood, although the developers had to limit this feature to make sure you could still see Kratos’ details. If this had been an accurate blood-splatter simulator, Kratos would surely be covered in blood the entire time.
At one point in the level, Kratos encountered a number of soldiers with shields. It’s impossible to bash through them, though, so you’ll need to think of a clever way to get around this problem. Luckily, a cyclops wonders onto the screen, and after you take down his health far enough, you can ride him around. He drunkenly sways and smashes with his powerful arms, quickly killing the meager soldiers who so stubbornly blocked your path. When you tire of riding this one-eyed monster, you can finish him off in spectacular fashion. Just reach into his eye socket and rip the ball right from his head. This same finisher was in God of War II, but it’s so much more sadistic and disturbing in high definition.
In addition to the copious amounts of blood flooding the screen, we were able to see one of Kratos' new abilities. He gets something called Eyes of a God, which lets him see paths mere mortals normally can't see. When a hidden area is nearby, your controller will vibrate and gold flakes will litter the screen to let you know when to make use of this ability. It isn't used just for finding secret areas, though. It also serves as a flashlight, and the lighting effects look really cool as Kratos walks through the dimly lit mountain pass. When you use this ability on enemies, it briefly blinds them, and if you hold it on them long enough, they will be imbued with light, which gives you a momentary torch so you can see your enemies while you tear them to shreds.
The last new section we got to see made use of Icarus’ wings. If you find a draft of air, you can glide straight up, which gives you a quick passage through the mountain. Kratos shot up a narrow tunnel and had to twist and turn to dodge the obstacles blocking his path. It’s reminiscent of the Pegasus section in God of War II, but it’s much faster now. God of War III is shaping up to be another awesome adventure; it's just as gruesome and over the top as before with a number of new moves to keep things interesting. We’ll have to wait until next year to see if it can live up to its predecessors, though. God of War III is scheduled for release in March 2010, though we were told to expect a home demo before then.