E3 2009: God of War III

God of War (and its sequel) were both big hits for the PlayStation 2, and the franchise's appearance on the PS3 has been eagerly awaited since that system's launch.

Kratos--still cranky.

If there's one thing the semibeleaguered PlayStation needs, it's more high-profile exclusive games that can drive system sales. After all: brand loyalty aside, it's the actual games that sell systems, and a big hit (such as Microsoft's Halo) can add considerably to a console's fan base.

God of War (and its sequel) were both big hits for the PlayStation 2, and the franchise's appearance on the PS3 has been eagerly awaited since that system's launch. We got a glimpse of the game-in-progress back at the Game Developer's Conference earlier in 2009, and at E3, it's one of Sony's main pushes.

Those expecting a major departure (aside from greatly improved graphics) obviously are not familiar with the addictive charms of angry Greek demi-god Kratos. The series is basically Bulfinche's Mythology filtered through the UFC. Guide your bald-headed killing machine through ancient Greece and the underworld, slicing and dicing pretty much everyone you run into, from foot soldiers to giant Clash-of-the-Titans-style beasts.

If finding a successful formula and repeating it works for Hollywood, there's no reason game makers can't follow suit. The main differences we found in the PS3 version of God of War is a somewhat smarter camera system, bigger, more-detailed environments, and some new oversize monsters (and cool classic beasts such as a minotaur).

The most surprising thing about God of War III is that it's going to miss the all-important holiday selling season, having been scheduled for March 2010. That takes a major contender out of Sony's holiday arsenal, making other exclusives such as Uncharted 2 (also very impressive-looking) even more critical.

It's as close to a guaranteed hit as the video game industry gets, but make no mistake: this is interactive junk food (not that there's anything wrong with that). The only real question is who will play our chrome-domed anti-hero in the inevitable movie spin-off, Duane "The Rock" Johnson or Vin Diesel.

About the author

Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of laptops, desktops, and Windows tablets, while also writing about games, gadgets, and other topics. A former radio DJ and member of Mensa, he's written about music and technology for more than 15 years, appearing in publications including Spin, Blender, and Men's Journal.

 

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