God of War III demo performance analysis

Digital Foundry tears it limb from limb.

At around 2.6GB in size, the God of War III E3 demo is one of the meatiest sampler downloads we've yet experienced, but the lengthy wait is worth it bearing in mind the length and breadth of the content on offer. Indeed, there's so much to show that we've cut the video analysis into two parts with only minor edits.

The first effectively covers what was shown in the Sony press conference at E3, the second shows what comes afterwards, and it's here that the demo really comes into its own - becoming that much more of a technical showcase. If you've already eagerly consumed the E3 press materials, skipping ahead to the second vid is probably worthwile.

This video essentially replicates the God of War III playthrough as seen in Sony's E3 conference. Skip ahead if you want to see new stuff, hit the play button to check out the frame-rate analysis.

So, part one then. Our initial technical analysis of the E3 demo remains relevant (it is the same code after all), but what is noteworthy is just how clean God of War III is. It's not really so self-evident on compressed internet video assets.

The texture work is of an outstanding quality throughout, special effects are used in a subtle and reserved manner, lighting is exemplary. The code appears to be using 2x multisamping anti-aliasing, but similar to Killzone 2, the choice of colour palette helps in adding to the edge-smoothing effect.

The second part of the E3 demo playthrough. This is where things begin to get seriously impressive. March 2010 can't come quick enough.

Into part two and the Sony Santa Monica studio's range of effects comes to the fore a touch more prominently. The per-pixel lighting in combination with the high-quality texture work produces some uncanny effects (for example, on the marble). The depth-of-field effect isn't "in your face", it just works and looks superb. The texture filtering employed is of an excellent quality. The only downers are a few low-poly edges and the reduced alpha buffers, but the impact on overall image quality isn't really a problem at all.

So, the frame-rate. Yes, it's E3 code. Yes, there's obviously a better-than-usual chance that the final code will improve over what we see in the demo. However, the performance level in the sampler is intriguing. This rendition of God of War III is v-synced (so no tearing), and based on our playthrough across the two videos, we have an average of 36.81FPS, a low of 24FPS and a high of 56FPS.

Average frame rates aren't usually that much of a useful stat, but here it's a pretty decent indication of overall performance throughout - which is curious. Locking the game at 30FPS would have produced a more visually consistent look, as well as a more predictable, "reliable" feel from the controls - plus less judder on-screen in panning shots and the like.

Overall though, small quibbles aside, this demo is great stuff, and the timing of its release just weeks before the US demo is released as part of the God of War Collection is curious. Will this self-same E3 demo be the same sampler included as a PSN redeem code within the package? Has Europe actually had the "exclusive" here?

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