E3 09: God of War III vs Bayonetta vs Dante's Inferno vs Darksiders

Wallow in carnage as we pit the show's most brutal slash 'em-ups against each other

God of War III


Full disclosure time: The author of this article is a huge fan of God of War and would probably moon over GoW III even if it was just hours of Kratos frowning meaningfully at a potato. But even with that in mind, the 10-minute demo that was playable at E3 was pretty badass. So far, it delivers about what we%26rsquo;d hoped for from a PS3 God of War game: more of the same tight, button-mashy action, but with much prettier visuals and more of everything.

There%26rsquo;s more gore, including the realistic tearing of sun-god Helios%26rsquo; neck as Kratos rips it off, or the %26ldquo;zipper mechanics%26rdquo; that come into play when he slits a centaur commander%26rsquo;s belly open (courtesy of a quicktime kill) and spills a pink pile of entrails. There%26rsquo;s more stuff to do, like hitching rides on harpies to get across chasms, riding on the back of a giant Cyclops to massacre shield-bearing undead warriors, using one of Kratos%26rsquo; new grab attacks on hapless man-sized enemies and using Icarus%26rsquo; wings to fly up through vertical hot-air vents.

There%26rsquo;s also a new weapon, the Cestus, a set of lion%26rsquo;s-head gauntlets that %26ndash; while they don%26rsquo;t feel quite as effective as Kratos%26rsquo; default Blades of Athena %26ndash; are almost as versatile and can bash through armored enemies. There%26rsquo;s more magic and cool accessories for the taking; in addition to items carried over from God of War II, like the Icarus wings and the Golden Fleece, Kratos can now use the severed head of Helios like a magic lantern to reveal secrets, light caverns and blind enemies.

Finally, there are more varied enemies, as evidenced by a Chimera that goes through three separate fighting styles (one for each head) and by that centaur commander we mentioned earlier, who can rally crowds of cannon-fodder skeletons to swarm you with coordinated attacks. It all comes together beautifully, with the same carefully calibrated slash-happy gameplay and attention to detail that made the last three God of War games so much fun. With almost a year between now and the game%26rsquo;s release, we%26rsquo;re eager to see what else is ahead.

There was, however, one problem with God of War%26rsquo;s E3 showing: apart from newly redesigned harpies and the appearance of murderable Greek civilians, there wasn%26rsquo;t much on display that we hadn%26rsquo;t already seen in February. We%26rsquo;ve already heard a lot about the game%26rsquo;s plans for ground-breaking %26ldquo;Titan Gameplay,%26rdquo; which will turn Kratos%26rsquo; allies, the massive Titans, into huge, moving levels wandering through an open world. But we weren%26rsquo;t offered even a glimpse of it in action during the demo or during an in-depth, behind-closed-doors presentation of the game. We%26rsquo;ll give God of War III the benefit of the doubt for now %26ndash; the series has certainly earned it %26ndash; but next time, it%26rsquo;s going to have to do more than give us a chance to play through what we were shown four months ago.

Worthy? Without question %26ndash; although we%26rsquo;re going to be a little skeptical until we see more.

Likelihood of defeating God of War:


(Well, OK, obviously God of War III isn't going to defeat itself. Just think of Kratos as the control group in this experiment.)


Bayonetta


Much as Bayonetta isn%26rsquo;t a deliberate grab for God of War%26rsquo;s lunch (unlike certain other titles on this list), its button-mashy, slashy-shooty brawler action is still similar enough to Kratos%26rsquo; latest monster-stomp to merit a mention. Slick and ultra-stylized, Bayonetta actually looks a lot like Devil May Cry 4, and with good reason: it%26rsquo;s being made by some of the people who worked on that series, including the first game%26rsquo;s director, Hideki Kamiya. The difference between this and Dante%26rsquo;s last outing is that, while DMC was always a little extreme, Bayonetta throws off as many restraints %26ndash; and as much clothing %26ndash; as it can get away with.

First, there%26rsquo;s the title character, a sexy witch who carries four guns %26ndash; two are strapped to her ankles %26ndash; and wears a skintight catsuit made from her own magical hair. Her basic gun/kick combos are fluid, brutal and fun to pull off, and while she has a sword, it%26rsquo;s not nearly as fun to use as her weird brand of gunkata with its increasingly ridiculous attacks. A lot of Bayonetta%26rsquo;s attacks also incorporate her hair, which means that, mid-combo, she%26rsquo;ll often suddenly appear to be half- or mostly naked (a gold unitard covers up the absolute bare minimum of naughty bits). The hair often seems to have a mind of its own, to the point that %26ndash; during finishing sequences for certain bosses in the demo we played %26ndash; it actually grew a dragon-like face and started chomping on our downed enemies.


Above: That%26rsquo;s not to say that all her punishing attacks are hair-based, however

So far, what we%26rsquo;ve seen of Bayonetta%26rsquo;s visual presentation is nothing short of bizarre; she seems to live in a world inhabited by ghosts, and most of her enemies are huge, angelic-looking beasts with the marble faces of classical statues. Stone mugs or no, they go down pretty quickly, especially when Bayonetta gets their weapons %26ndash; no matter how huge - away from them, and uses them to go on an angel-killing rampage. (Although, as is the case with most found weapons in games like this, even the really big ones aren%26rsquo;t as fun or as versatile to use as the default implements of death Bayonetta has from the start.


Above: Nor are they as fun as making a giant, kicking hair-foot

It%26rsquo;s definitely not as dark, blood-soaked or cruel as God of War %26ndash; in fact, it doesn%26rsquo;t seem to even begin to take itself seriously %26ndash; but its goofiness, charm and ever-present promise of nudity and sexy hip-thrusting make it just as captivating. It%26rsquo;s also a lot of fun, as Bayonetta unleashes more over-the-top crazy combos than Kratos could even wrap his rage-addled mind around. And that%26rsquo;s not even scratching the surface of her weird abilities, which include growing butterfly wings for a quick triple-jump and being able to walk, run and fight on walls and ceilings with the push of a button.

Worthy? Absolutely, assuming it can keep up its bizarre pacing without wearing out its welcome. If this trailer is any indication, we expect wonderful things ahead:

Likelihood of defeating God of War:


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

After graduating from college in 2000 with a BA in journalism, I worked for five years as a copy editor, page designer and videogame-review columnist at a couple of mid-sized newspapers you've never heard of. My column eventually got me a freelancing gig with GMR magazine, which folded a few months later. I was hired on full-time by GamesRadar in late 2005, and have since been paid actual money to write silly articles about lovable blobs.
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