God of War 3 - PS3 - Preview 3

Certainly one of the most anticipated games of the year, God of War 3 is the last entry to the wildly popular action franchise and the first one to launch on the PS3. The game is certainly shaping up to be a fine showcase of the PS3’s processing power while also capitalizing on the fast and frantic action that the series made its name on. Players will follow Kratos on the final leg of his vendetta mission against Zeus and the rest of the gods of Olympus. You’ll work your way up the ranks of your enemies, up to the big man himself, Zeus; think of it like Kill Bill, except instead of knife-wielding housewives and Yakuza crimelords, you’re facing off against the Greek pantheon.

At a recent press event held in LA, GameZone was given some hands on time with the game’s opening moments from the start screen to the first awesome boss battle. The game isn’t too terribly removed from the other God of War games, as it controls the same and has the same brand of intense, gory action as the original. However, there are a few new bells and whistles on the gameplay front as well as some great new areas and enemies to explore and eviscerate, respectively.

The final chapter of the God of War trilogy meets up with Kratos immediately following God of War 2, with the Ghost of Sparta riding on Gaia’s shoulder as she and several other Titans scale Mt. Olympus to stage a final battle against the Gods. As Kratos rides up the side of the mountain, the god of the seas Poseidon deploys a seahorse-crab-snake creature to drag Gaia down, requiring you to take it down (in a brutal fashion of course). You’ll continue your ascent of the mountain until you eventually have to take on Poseidon himself, a battle that ends in a pretty nasty showdown between the two characters.

Along the way you’ll face off against the horse creature a couple of different times as he tries to rip the Titans off of the side of the mountain, as well as some assorted baddies. There are a few puzzle sequences as well, but for the most part it’s all about visceral action. As the battles happen mostly on Gaia, you’ll have to deal with the landscape changing, as Gaia will move her arm as she gets attacked, requiring you to fight while grabbing onto the side, or even while gripping onto the ceiling at times. The result is very fluid and fun. You’ll see some new enemy types in these opening moments, like the Centaur, who dies in a particularly gnarly fashion when you instigate the finishing QTE (you’ll cut him open and rip his guts out); this is not a game for the faint of heart.

The QTEs have been changed around a little bit for this entry to the franchise. Instead of simply appearing on the screen, the button indicators will appear on the edge that corresponds to the action, as in the Square button will appear on the left side of the screen, the Circle on the right and so on. Otherwise, they feel like they have in previous God of War games.

The game’s controls and gameplay aren’t terribly far removed from the first two titles. You’ll still be performing fast-paced combos using quick or heavy attacks from a variety of weapons, magic (the preview build showcased a cyclone attack that you could use simply by pressing a shoulder button), Quick-Time Events, as well as block and dodge your enemies’ attacks by pressing the right thumbstick in a direction to roll that way. There are some new moves added to the repertoire, like the Battering Ram, which lets you grab an enemy and then run with them, charging them into enemies while guiding Kratos wherever you want him to go.

Graphically, God of War 3 has definitely come a long way since its appearance at E3 last year. The character models and shadows look even more accurate and detailed, and the animation is spot on. The environments are dynamic and feel alive, and the superb art direction definitely makes this a sight to behold. While the framerate has been slowed down a bit from the PS2 excursions, motion blur and bloom lighting help add to the cinematic style of the game. All in all, this is sure to be one of the best looking games on the system.

If the opening moments of the game are any indication, God of War 3 will definitely be an amazing title that no gamer will want to miss out on, not to mention a fantastic way to bookend Kratos’s epic adventure. Look for it at the end of the month.

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