We're almost less than a week away now from the return of Kratos with Sony's long-awaited God of War: Ascension, a prequel that shows how the angry warrior came to be, and the trouble he gets into along the way.  A prolonged demo is available for play now, introducing the techniques that Kratos has available for putting someone away, as well as the exquisite graphics that director Todd Papy and his team at Sony Santa Monica are pumping into the game.

But looks aren't everything – you have to get a real good understanding of Kratos to use him effectively.  Despite the fact he's tough in battle, there are a few things you should know before you enter the fray with him.  Let's get right into it with gameplay tactics…

Combos

Kratos is once again able to utilize his chained blades, as he's done in prior games, and with the use of both a light and strong attack set-up, he can tie together some pretty sweet combos.  For instance, holding down the triangle button enables him to launch a huge uppercut swing, allowing him to jump in the air and strike a foe multiple times before they collapse to the ground.  If you prefer ground combat, there's no shortage there either, as he's able to do all sorts of moves, including a ranged attack where he can hit multiple enemies at once, as well as a devastating ground pound that can shake up even the most heaviest armored offenders.

As he picks up red orbs over the course of his journey, Kratos can pick up even more powerful techniques, including an utterly strong spinning attack that hits anyone within its range.  These use up a small bit of power, so make sure you're full up on it before you let loose with your rage.

Last but not least, Kratos can also pick up additional weapons this time around, which can be used one of two ways.  The first is using them for straightforward attacks, and though the combos aren't nearly as stylish as what he can do with his chain blades, it's still quite efficient – and convenient – in bringing down enemies.  Also, he can launch these weapons as projectiles, in case he needs to hit someone firing projectiles at him from a distance, or just needs to throw an enemy off while taking out an enemy closer in proximity.

With Bosses, Stay Alive With Defense

There's no question that there are some boss enemies in God of War: Ascension that will take a LOT of damage before you eventually bring them down to size.  To defeat them, it's a matter of simply chipping away, while also avoiding incoming attacks that can do a great deal of damage.

With enemies in this game, according to the demo, it's a matter of learning a pattern.  For instance, the first time we face off against the weird demon hand creature, on a swiveling platform, we see what his strikes can do, as he lines up his hand on the floor and scrapes it along.  You see little indications of when he will do this, so you can either jump over the hand or land on the platform below, getting out of its path entirely.  (That's your best bet.)  Then Kratos can rise back up and strike with ease, repeating the pattern.  (Jumping over attacks is also quite useful when you face off against the same beast later on, eventually finishing him off by bringing objects down on his head.)

And the quick-time events once again make a return in Ascension, as once you do enough damage to a foe, you see a little light-up indicator over their head.  With smaller enemies, you simply grapple them and rip them apart.  But bigger bosses enter you into a button-pressing quick-time event, where you have to hit the right buttons at the right time to finish them off.  Fail to do so, and you'll have to chip away at them until the indicator appears again.

Finally, Grappling

One more helpful ability that has matured with the arrival of Ascension is the ability to grapple.  Here, you can grab onto enemies by launching a chain blade and bringing them closer, then either striking away at them with weak or strong attacks, or hurling them at another enemy to throw them off.  This takes a slight bit of practice, especially the throwing part (though you can see what enemy is highlighted before you throw their buddy into them), but it's a useful ability, especially when you're surrounded.

Again, you can try out these moves for yourself in the demo now, which is quite impressive when it comes to providing a small taste of what the final game will bring next week.  Kratos is definitely a lot more monstrous now than he used to be – and considering what he's up against, that's a good thing.

God of War: Ascension hits stores on March 12th for PlayStation 3.