By Greg Newbegin
On the TGS show floor, I was able to play the same demo that of God of War: Ascension was shown at E3 earlier in the year -- and, that Trent had a chance to experience at EB Expo. In general, I would not have worried too much about getting my hands on God of War because - let's face it, we've played it all before. However, at TGS, the ability to play God of War: Ascension also represented a chance to test out Sony's Personal 3D Viewer, the HMZ-T2, so I jumped in line.
After putting on some headphones, as well as the headset (which required the assistance of a booth assistant, although, to be honest, it wasn't that complicated -- it was just a bit crowded in the preview area), I found myself almost immersed in God of War. The headset wasn't heavy, and sat well on my obscenely large head, and the screens managed to align themselves in front of my eyes with little fuss. The 3D worked by sliding the individual screens until they achieved visual acuity -- per eye. Unfortunately, as much as I tried, my left eye just couldn't get there, so it was slightly blurry as I played. Sure, I might have given up, or the unit I tried might have seen better days by this time, but it was a little disappointing.
Further, not all incoming light was blocked out. I would have preferred some sort of sleeve around the outside of the unit - not unlike Nintendo's infamous Virtual Boy - that could block out the rest of the world, but this probably wouldn't work in terms of design. It must be said, though, that although I was wearing a headset, this was not intended to be "virtual reality" - it merely looked to me as if I was staring at a very large screen in front of me, which seemed to follow me if I moved my head. It didn't take up all of my vision. Overall? I would say it was enjoyable to use, but considering all of the cabling that would be involved, I don't think this unit is really something to lay money down for just yet. Once you can connect it to a PS3 completely wirelessly? Then I might reconsider.
Regarding the God of War demo? What can I say - this was just a button masher, as per the previous games. Personally, I do like the God of War series - mostly for their storylines, but also for the mindless arcade action, but this? It didn't feel fresh or new. I fought my way through a series of increasingly difficult bosses (nothing overly taxing) until finally reaching a very large boss (a Kraken?), where the demo ended. Everything looked pretty good, as I would expect, but it played much the same as it has previously.
An interesting point to note: there is a new ability that has been implemented, so it's not EXACTLY the same as previous games (although, as this is a prequel or origin story, I'm wondering how Kratos loses this ability) - Kratos is able to reverse damage in order to be able to get from place to place. In the demo, a large scaffolding is destroyed, and the player is urged to use this power to "rebuild" the scaffolding in order to reach higher platforms. Where this power came from and why Kratos can do this was not explained in the demo, but I'm confused as to its place in the series. It just didn't sit right with me. Kratos is no magician.
Something else I noted - the Quick Time Events displayed the required buttons at the side of the screen (representing their position on the controller), which made performing them accurately somewhat easier. This is a bit of a bonus for me, as I'm not a huge fan of QTE, and my brain is way too slow to map the on-screen controls to the buttons...
Otherwise, if you like God of War, you'll like God of War: Ascension, funnily enough. I'll play this one... eventually.