God of War III Impressions: Like A Threesome For Your Eyes

We've seen God of War III in person. We've seen it actually being played. And it looks good. Like a painting come to life? Maybe. Worthy of a string of excited expletives? Oh, definitely.

God of War III is bigger, gorier, more beautiful than any PlayStation 3 game we've seen to date, a game with a sense of scale far beyond the competition. Just how big is the third (and supposedly final) God of War? The game's director, Stig Asmussen, pitched the scope in two ways.

One, the Medusa level from the first God of War game for the PlayStation 2 is said to fit in the palm of one of the hands of the massive Titan's shown scaling Mt. Olympus in the game's first trailer. Two, the Kratos model used in God of War III is purported to be unable to fit on the PS2's RAM.

To sum up. Things are big.

And things are better, as the God of War team is mixing things up with new gameplay, new weapons and new Greek gods to behead.

During the gameplay demo we saw, all real-time action, we saw Kratos thrust into the battle between the gargantuan Titans and the gods, a conflict that Kratos is doing his best to escalate during the events of God of War III. Starting at a stone keep at the base of Mt. Olympus, Kratos is tasked with finding the door of Eos, as he, like the Titans, must find his way to the peak.

We saw one of the Titans not far in the distance, a rocky, lava flowing mass, crushing and crumbling anything it could on which it could get a foothold. In the foreground, Kratos popped out against the darkness, thanks to some rim shadowing techniques added to the game's engine.

Harpies flew into view, antagonizing Kratos and making the demo time-to-nipple less than 30 seconds. Possibly a record for the God of War series.

God of War III Impressions: Like A Threesome For Your Eyes

The God of War team showed off some of Kratos' new abilities, including his suite of new weapons. Yes, the classic armblades are still intact, but Kratos also has a flaming bow and arrow, one capable of rapid fire—and setting unlucky enemies alight—and the Cestus. They're the lion heads Kratos can crush enemies with, the Greek god version of brass knuckles, apparently.

Real-time weapon switching? You got it. The God of War team promises that Kratos' other weapons will actually be useful, as swapping out weapon types on the fly can be done in a flash, adding variety and real usefulness in chaining together combos.

Kratos showed off some of his new moves in a battle with some rank and file undead. When up close, Kratos can grab enemies, use them as shields, as battering rams, and then simply pound their heads into soup against walls. While the regular thugs were basically dumb as dirt, when a Centaur captain, shown in the game's trailer, makes an appearance, the game's artificial intelligence will ramp up, taking "orders" from commanders. Having an extra enemy type will also force the player to mix up their tactics.

Kratos battle against the Centaur captain also showed off another piece of new tech, the disemboweling "Zipper Tech" that will have entrails flowing. What better way to take care of a fifteen foot tall Centaur?

After dispatching this group of baddies, God of War III introduced its first mini-boss, the Chimera. The mythical beast, a lion-goat-snake combo, has three stages of attacks, depending on which part of the beast is in control. Kratos quickly sliced off the Chimera's snake tail, gorily, of course, and after a quick beat down and trademark "quick time event" mini-game, dispatched the lion's face and goat head. It's all epic and cinematic in the God of War tradition.

When the Chimera nuisance was taken care of, Kratos took control of one of the level's Harpies, which one can ride, jumping from Harpy to Harpy, over giant gaps. Kratos can beast-jack at least two enemy types, the Harpy and Cyclops, giving him the ability to fly short distances or, with the help of the Cylcops' mace, swat through hordes of foes that Kratos couldn't normally defeat.

Kratos then took on his next foe, the god Helios. It went well. You know, epic battle, lots of things killed by Kratos, a Cyclops ridden and ultimately eye-gouged with blood and offal spraying in all directions. Then it got violent. Kratos, at the suggestion of some quick button presses, ripped Helios' head clean off. Well, clean might not be appropriate, as it was slow, messy and rather vile.

God of War III Impressions: Like A Threesome For Your Eyes

That Helios head came in handy, as disembodied heads tend to do in the God of War series. Kratos can use the dead god's noggin to see regularly unseen things, like the aforementioned door of Eos he was look for, painting it into visibility like a brush. It can also be used to light a darkened room like a bright fleshy lantern, a "fleshlight" if you will, blinding enemies.

Finally, we saw the next trick up God of War III's sleeve, the game's flying levels. Kratos, with the help of his black Icarus wings, flew upward through one of Mt. Olympus's chimneys, which reminded us of an ancient Greek take on the Millenium Falcon's run on the Death Star II in the Star Wars: Return of the Jedi or an extremely bad-ass Pilotwings.

God of War III looks about as spectacular and, if you'll forgive me, visceral as a game can be, one loaded with over the top violence and epic scale. The team at Sony Computer Entertainment looks like it may have truly defined the console with this effort, a title that shows the promise of current gen, high-definition hardware with something that simply couldn't have been done previously. The gameplay, while familiar, looks to be lovingly tweaked and appropriately rebalanced for a refreshing slog through. But it's the cinematic flair, the over the top flash combined with the attention to detail, that has us most excited to get our hands on the game.

When will that be? You'll find out at E3.

God of War III Impressions: Like A Threesome For Your Eyes

God of War III Impressions: Like A Threesome For Your Eyes

God of War III Impressions: Like A Threesome For Your Eyes

God of War III Impressions: Like A Threesome For Your Eyes

God of War III Impressions: Like A Threesome For Your Eyes

God of War III Impressions: Like A Threesome For Your Eyes