God of War III E3 '09 Demo Impressions

November 1st, 2009 -

Thanks to a well placed friend on the internet, I have obtained a download of the GoW E3 ’09 demo; this is what I’ve seen so far:

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This is the demo that was shown at E3: I just grabbed a video from youtube so you can see what I’m talking about in case you missed it.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DhMKwBYeZlk]
(note: this is not me playing)

Seeing as though I’ve watched the play through of this level many times (and I’m sure you have as well), there wasn’t much to actually “see” here. So besides the visuals, how does it play? Well… like a God of War game. It literally feels exactly like GoW 1&2. Most of the animations are the same, the move set is similar, and the new secondary weapon is big and heavy opposed to the blades of chaos, just like in the other games. Honestly, my first play through of this demo didn’t leave me impressed at all. Things aren’t looking good for Kratos…

Because of this, I played though it a second time. This time looking for the fine details and really trying to work the game engine. I may have overlooked the visuals a little bit, mostly in the lighting department. It wasn’t until I was in a dark area and then swung the blades that I noticed how dynamic the lighting is in this game. It’s actually really impressive watching the reflections follow the blades as you swing them. Yes I know, GoW 1&2 had good lighting as well, and I think that’s my biggest issue with this. Both 1&2 felt so much like a PS3 game on the PS2 that I’m not really impressed with this. It could also be that I just finished Uncharted 2, which took 3rd person gaming to a new level. But I’m so used to these “over the top” visuals now that when I finally get to see GoW3 running on my PS3, it’s exactly where I expected it to be.

Is this good or bad? Well it’s a good sign for the PS3 as a whole, but somewhat of a bad sign for GoW. I think Uncharted and Metal Gear might have stolen some of its “presentation” thunder. Had GoW3 come out in 2007 it would have blown minds and we would have been ready for the story, fresh off of GoW2. But since it’s nearly 4 years later, the presentation has lost its wow factor. I find my self saying “wow the water looks cool, kinda like uncharted,” and so on. Graphically speaking its going to be one of the best looking games on the PS3 without a doubt, but its kind of hard to wow an audience with an opening act like Uncharted 2 or Metal Gear Solid 4.

If it’s not the graphics, then the game play must have something amazing to offer. Actually, in terms of game play, one could simplify this into a phrase; “same shit, different number”. But again, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing; the God of War game engine is its cream filling to the franchise. There’s nothing wrong with it, so why change it? However, even if it works well, you have to keep in mind that you already beat 2 (possibly 3) games using that same engine. It still feels as solid as it did when I played GoW1 for the first time, which is great; but I’ve seen this trick before.

So it’s not the graphics, its not the game play, then clearly they have done something epic with the story. I think you already know where I’m going with this. There are creatures: you kill them. There are bystanders: you kill them. There are gods; guess what? Yup, you kill them. I’m certain the full game’s story is going to be very compelling and bring the saga to a close nicely, but over all I kind of felt like I was playing an HD rebuild of a GoW2 level. Also, when I walked up to the ballista, it felt too much like the opening to Chains of Olympus (PSP). The Helios battle felt kind of bland for a GoW game; it went by really quick and I completed it on my first try without dying. The game seemed to have built it up too much for how it played out.

All and all I have to say that I’m not as excited about this game as I thought I would be, and that kind of makes me depressed. I really loved the other games, and 2 left me begging for more. However, I think it’s a case of holding out too long.. Am I going to skip this game now? Are you kidding…? Even though I just spent the last 4 paragraphs talking about its faults, the game is still going to be awesome, and I’m still going to get it day one. It just seems as though the hype has been killed a little by the wait and the games that have filled in as an opening act for it.

Cliffs
“Same shit, different number” – draw a conclusion based on that

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