Previews

God of War II

Preview: Brutal and bloody good fun

God of War is both an excellent stress-beater and a pad-flinging catalyst, so when it came to trying out the badass sequel this afternoon we wisely retreated to the safety of the nearest meeting room. You know, just in case a Wii strap-style incident would either get us sacked, or at the very least banned from lunchtime Mario Kart 64 sessions.

But the dark, soft-carpeted enclosure turned out to be the perfect environment, as it's by far the most cinematic game experience we've had so far in 2007.

It kicks off with a short cut-scene of how our favourite war-painted face-smasher went from 100ft Greek god back to just a regular sized half-diety - we think it was something to do with those sneaky, conspiring gods but to be honest we were too busy ogling God of War's infamous scantly-dressed god groupies.

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A few sky-shot magic blasts later and a gigantic golden statue is brought to life, which abruptly decides to exercise its new-found movement by kicking in some buildings and then coming after our tooled-up bald crooner.

Gameplay pretty much carries straight over from the last game. For you newcomers combat basically works by combining light and heavy attacks to create various moves that send Kratos' blades flinging every which way. There's also grab attacks which zoom-in for extra brutal killing moves, such as ripping a bad guy in half with your bare hands. Raaaaww.

Meanwhile, holding triangle knocks enemies into the air for some skyward combos, and L2 is used for magic attacks such as the area-effect lightning blast featured in the demo, which is made more effective by mashing circle.

God of War's excellent pacing appears to once again be in full effect in the sequel, carrying on the first game's tradition of splitting wave after wave of combat with interludes of boss battle.

The colossus level starts off with us slashing away like madmen against hordes of enemies, before scaling walls and climbing ladders until our giant brass mate decides to smash through the nearest crack or hole.

And throughout the demo the colossus offers some terrific encounters - the same satisfying and visceral button-mashing bouts that made the first game's boss fights such a thrill to play.

In our first face-off with the giant boss we're presented with a catapult. Firing a reasonably-sized boulder seemingly has no effect on the golden git, as he merely snatches it in his hand and throws it back in our faces like a wet towel.

Projecting ourselves in his general direction also provides meagre results; in the typically-visceral GoW style Kratos is flung through the air, and then smashed into a nearby wall giving our health a good denting.

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After about seven retries and several office locals snuffing in the general direction of our game skills, we worked out the solution to ending the statue onslaught and ripped its fat eye out of its stupid face. Needless to say, a painstaking amount of effort has again be poured into making Kratos' animations brutal and angry, which makes killing blows all the more satisfying.

A few block puzzles and a bit of Metroid-style grappling later and we're facing off against the colossus again, and he's smashing through walls and buildings in scenes that are surely edging towards the very limits of what the PS2 is capable of - Sony's LA studio has truly trumped the first game in the graphics department.

Finishing it off requires a mix of grappling, magic blasts and mashing at the triangle button like a crazed mentalist. Oh, and there's some QTE scenes which have us smashing its hand through a waterwheel and slashing its face like a gangster. We're now starting to see how this game makes us fling pads.

And that's your lot. You can check out the latest trailers and news on Kratos' latest over on our game page, and look out for our review running up to the game's release next month. It's going to be brutal.

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