Speaking of which, the new God of War is definitely more blood-soaked than any of its previous incarnations, and that's mostly thanks to the graphical power of the new console. The team used the Titan gameplay from God of War II as a starting-off point for this gory adventure. "If you look at the way Kratos obliterates enemies now, he stabs a guy and it creates a gash in the skin and when you're ripping a Cyclops' eye out, it has tendons trailing behind it," says Puhl, illustratively. "When you slice open a Centaur, its body actually opens up and the guts will spill out. These levels of detail help make the combat experience more realistic." Yes, lovely.
Kratos now has multiple options when it comes to eviscerating the rank-and-file. He can grab a grunt and run him against a wall, crush his skull to pieces, or use him like a bowling ball and throw him into a crowd of enemies. The developer has also updated the contact-sensitive moves. New weapons open up additional attacks. Kratos now has a Fire Bow to set enemies and surroundings ablaze, and he also has the Cestus, a set of chained gauntlets similar to the Gauntlet of Zeus from God of War: Chains of Olympus.
"The theory behind this is that we're trying to get inside of Kratos' head and show his rage and show his anger in these moves," says Puhl. He's cross, is he? "We want the player to really feel it when you're killing these enemies and understand where he's coming from."
The team is also crafting a living, moving world for Kratos to rip apart. The gameplay sequence I'm shown features Kratos standing on the towering Gaia's shoulder as she walks up the side of Mt. Olympus. To offer some Titan perspective, Medusa's Temple from God of War could fit in Gaia's palm on the PS3. But that's just the scale; there's also more depth.
"If Gaia's shoulder moves down, Kratos switches to a completely different stance," says Puhl. "Kratos is going to dig his blades in and go into a wall-climb and grunts are going to fall off of Gaia's arm and as she reacts, Kratos is going to react to all the things that are changing. There are all of these additional levels of detail that we get like depth-of-field and all of the additional tech pieces. If we had put all of that in God of War II, it wouldn't run any more."
Feldman also says that God of War III ups the ante when it comes to the enemies themselves. Since the audience wasn't going to be captivated by fighting grunts all the way through, the team set out to create bigger, badder, meaner, and fiercer creatures. "We've introduced new gameplay with these bosses," he says. "We're re-introducing the Cyclops as this almost tank-like thing that you can drive around and destroy. We're offering a more in-depth redesign of some of the things gamers may already be used to."
During the demonstration, Kratos uses his chain-swords to control a Cyclops like a remote-controlled tank and take to the skies hanging on a flying Harpy to cross a large pit. Gamers will be happy to know that God of War III actually puts more control into their hands. This Kratos is capable of feats never before imagined, and players will be able to pull off fatalities that make the Saw movies look like Disney films.
In other words, even at this early stage, God of War III doesn't disappoint your bloodthirsty American correspondent. It's setting Sony up for the kind of killer application that it's after. Now it's just a matter of waiting for the launch date.
God of War III is due for release exclusively on PlayStation 3 late this year or early next. Expect a firm date at E3.