Pre-E3 06: God of War II gameplay impressions

When God of War II was first announced for the PlayStation 2 last March, it immediately leaped to the top of many players' most wanted lists. After all, the first game was a gory, mythologically-inspired masterpiece of flesh-rending, blood-spurting, gore-filled action. And one look at the trailer for the also-on-PS2 sequel was enough to convince even the most skeptical gamer that the second go-round between anti-hero Kratos and the entire mythological world was going to be bigger and better.

A short time later after seeing part of an actual in-game level, we're more convinced than ever. The demo starts a short way into the game. We don't know why Kratos, who literally became a god at the end of the first game, is now mortal again. We do know that he has sworn violent revenge upon whomever is responsible, so it's about to hit the fan. Thus, Kratos is riding a flame-winged Pegasus through the sky, pursuing a goblin-like creature riding what appears to be a gryphon.

The gryphon is launching fireballs backward, but not for long. Replaying a scene from the trailer, Kratos leaps onto the gryphon's back and throws the rider off the creature, sending it plummeting through the stratosphere. He then literally saws off one of the gryphon's wings, mortally wounding it, then skydives away himself. Clearly, Kratos hasn't become more cautious with age.

The action then cuts to a swampy area (presumably where Kratos has landed), dominated by skeletal enemies and a stone temple. On its door is a carved image of a medusa head, complete with eyebeams that will turn Kratos to stone if he gets too close. He needs another way in. There's an item around the right side of the temple, but it's across a bubbling brown lake. On the nearer side, there's a risen platform that could help Kratos, if he could get to it.