God of War III Review
Game: God of War III
Developer: Santa Monica Studio
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Available on: PlayStation 3 only
God of War graced the gaming world in 2005 on the PlayStation 2 and it immediately impressed, both gamers and critics loved it. Fast paced, brutal, unrelenting action met Greek mythology and it was a match made in heaven. The success spawned a fantastic sequel (along with a couple of spin-offs) and an anti-hero called Kratos was unleashed. The series now, finally, comes to PlayStation 3 in the form of God of War III and it brings with it some huge expectations. This is the Ghost of Sparta’s quest for vengeance and his last hurrah. Does he end his story on a high or is it all just a damp squib? Read on for the full review.
STORY: God of War III kicks off pretty much immediately after the events of the previous game, and by kicks off I mean explodes and destroys everything in its path. Kratos, perched on the back of Gaia, is climbing up Mount Olympus in a quest to unleash his vengeance upon his father and King of the Gods, Zeus. In true gaming fashion, things aren’t as straight forward as they seem and Kratos has to battle his way through enemies small, big and gigantic until he is finally ready to take on Zeus himself.
You would expect the story to be pretty straight forward and, well, for the most part it is but occasionally (especially towards the end) it gets bogged down in tedium. It’s like a quality runner getting tired towards the end of a marathon, he wins but stumbles over the finish line. Despite that slight negative, the story still has an epic feel to it. Greek mythology was always interesting but, much like its predecessors, God of War III also makes it seems incredibly cool.
GRAPHICS: Visually God of War III is just mind blowing, it wouldn’t be too much of an exaggeration to say the graphics are some of the best I have seen on any of the current consoles. Fantastic lighting, great looking environments and some amazing character models. Kratos in particular just looks absolutely stunning whether he is standing still or in the process of butchering an enemy. You can literally see the muscles in his arms stretching at times, the detail is that good.
Impressive as all that is, the one true stand-out aspect has to be the sense of scale the game so masterfully displays. If you thought the Hydra or the Colossus of Rhodes openings were impressive in God of War and God of War II respectively then prepare your eyes for the visual splendour that is on show in God of War III. Not only does the opening of the game blow both of the mentioned scenarios out of water, a particular boss battle later on in the game just smashes them to pieces. It is just utterly breathtaking and true “wow” moment. I couldn’t even begin explain the brilliance, it is something that must be sampled personally.
SOUND: The audio present within God of War III hits the right notes on all levels, no pun intended of course. The music that accompanies the major battles is suitable and compliments the on-screen action quite well but, once again, the main theme is the star of the show. It is truly epic and captures the essence of the game superbly.
The majority of voice acting is also very well delivered, some of the minor characters even sound pretty good. As was the case with the previous games in the series, TC Carson’s portrayal of Kratos is the stand-out performance. The Ghost of Sparta looks like one mean dude and, thanks to the fantastic voice acting, he also sounds like one.
GAMEPLAY: The phrase “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” definitely applies here as the combat is basically the same as the previous two games (upgrade system included) but the action and gore has been upped by like ten levels, it’s oh so brutal. The combat as a whole is just so satisfying, tearing up enemies left, right and centre is just pure unadulterated fun. It is by no means easy though, the majority of the sequences during latter half of the game will certainly test your skills. Without a shadow of a doubt though, the boss battles are the highlights when it comes to combat. Every single battle apart from the final one (which is very underwhelming) just oozes quality. As I mentioned earlier, one boss battle in particular is just a “wow” moment and I was left utterly gobsmacked after completing it.
The upgrade system is set-up in exactly the same way as the two previous games, meaning if you want to max out all your weapons and abilities then those little red orbs are your best friends. By the end of the game you will have four different weapons at your disposal (five, if you count the “rage” weapon) and they all play their part in proceedings, some more than others though. The slight negative is that three out of the four weapons are quite similar in their use and only one really stands out as being particularly unique. Kratos gains access to new weapons and abilities by defeating the major bosses that he encounters, these weapons also provide four distinctly unique magical abilities. A simple press of the R2 button and you can unleash the magic upon your foes. This simplified design approach also crosses over to the weapon switching. You can now switch between weapons on fly, during a combo by simply pressing L1 and X together. This is a fantastic addition as it really allows the combat to flow without any interruptions.
Another aspect of the series also remains fully intact, the puzzles. The majority of these “teasers” pretty much fall in line with content you would have come across in the previous games; nothing that puts too much strain on the brain but still fun to “solve” nonetheless. However, there is one specific puzzle towards the end of the game that really impressed me and required some genuine thought. A great puzzle with “outside the box” design elements is not something I would really expect from a God of War game so it was genuinely a nice surprise when I came across it.
LONGEVITY: On the medium difficulty it can take anything up to 10-12 hours to complete the campaign the first time round. Bump the difficulty up to hard or very hard and you could probably add an hour or two to that figure.
The collectables and trophies add to replayability factor, they are both great reasons to play through this awesome game once again. It doesn’t end there either, as the game also includes challenge rooms and arena battles which, if you’re a huge God of War fan, should keep you going for a while.
VERDICT: God of War III has the weight of an entire trilogy placed squarely upon its broad shoulders and, for the majority of the game, it manages to deal with it extremely well. The story is a bit “flaky” at times and the final boss battle isn’t that great when compared to other encounters, but that’s about it really. The rest of the game of the is just so wonderfully crafted and put together it would be hard not to enjoy it. It’s brutal, it’s gory, it’s immensely satisfying, quite simply….it’s God of War III. If you own a PlayStation 3, you owe it to yourself to buy this game.