First God of War III details emerge

Beast-riding! Titans! PS3 power!

God of War III will see Kratos hop on and control mythical beasts such as Cyclops, crashing through hordes of enemies to get to objectives and solve puzzles.

And that's just one of the new mechanics in Sony Santa Monica's new game, according to a preview in the latest issue of GameInformer magazine.

The biggest challenge will be harnessing what the PS3 can accomplish. "We want this to be the game that shows people what the PS3 can do," game director Stig Asmussen told the magazine.

That means titans: enormous and ancient god-like beings that have been tussling with the Greek gods for a while. Whereas action sequences involving titans in previous God of War games were restricted to cinematic sequences, they're now integrated on a much more dynamic level.

Kratos - a tiny cluster of pixels compared to the full model of a titan - clambers up their immense frames as they rock to and fro, some even aggressively interacting as our hero ploughs forward. "It's not just a set piece anymore; it's a living, breathing character," added Asmussen.

As for Kratos himself: he'll be around four times as detailed as on PlayStation 2. "Kratos on PS2 was probably about 5,000 polygons, and now he's 20,000," said art director Ken Feldman. "We wouldn't even be able to load him on PS2."

The gnarled warrior also visually carries the scars obtained in previous God of War games, as well as some of the abilities acquired: the Golden Fleece and the Icarus Wings are mentioned.

There's plenty of room for him to grow, though. The skill-set has expanded to include a wider array of combos and grapples and environmental interaction like smashing heads on walls. And a brand new supernatural magic-type has been introduced, as relying on god-powers of the past would be thematically daft; the gods are no longer friends of Kratos and are unlikely to grant him any more power, so his magic will come from somewhere intrinsic, somewhere else.

Additional weapons also await, and Sony Santa Monica promises each weapon will feel completely different to the signature Blades of Chaos, providing real alternatives rather than quick-thrill distractions. The Cestus gauntlets are given as an example; these spout spiked balls on chains from their decorative animal mouths, causing shockwaves that throw enemies back on each hit.

Abilities such as those will come in handy, as Kratos faces much stiffer opposition than ever before. The developer reached around 12 to 15 enemies on-screen in God of War II, and has bumped that number somewhere closer to 50 on PS3. Enemies can also jump on Kratos, eventually weighing him down and smothering him. This can be broken by wiggling the analogue stick.

Multiple baddies will now coordinate attacks, too, or take orders from a commander to organise into formations. And, of course, Kratos will face boss battles.

"You can look at the cast of characters from the end of God of War II, and you can kind of deduce [the bosses] from that," hinted Asmussen. One confirmed battle will be with Hades, who rules the underworld.

Sony Santa Monica went on to confirm that God of War III will not have multiplayer, although DLC remains a possibility for the future.

As far as story is concerned, God of War III will bring the trilogy to a close, but the franchise will live on, although we're told it won't be "run into the ground".

God of War III is in development exclusively for PlayStation 3. No firm release date has been set. Sigh.

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