Very few games this generation have awed me to the degree where they deserved a standing ovation. Games that have left particles of eminence stamped in our very own psyche; significant moments that are imprinted in our brains which from time to time come to life in the form of the most memorable moments we have experienced in our history of gaming; Moments that leave us in pure bliss as we savor the bewitching amazement that happened on our televisions. This is how I felt throughout my entire playthrough of God of War III – a game that has, indeed, thrashed all barriers of next generation gaming with the brute force that accompanies its protagonist, Kratos.
When you first insert a game of this magnitude that you’ve been itching to play since Santa Monica Studio cursed you with the cliffhanger ending of God of War II, a couple of things happen. First, you smile with childish glee as you finally validate to yourself that you finally have your copy of one of the most anticipated titles of the year. You then pursue to find the most comfortable seat in your living space which won’t flat-iron your ass as you play countless hours. Then, you look up at the screen, and waiting there is the enraged face of Kratos – who shares the same impatience as you to start the pilgrimage of molestation upon the gods of Mount Olympus with his good old friends the Blades of Chaos.
God of War III picks up immediately after the cliffhanger ending of God of War II with Kratos riding atop the titan Gaia as she climbs Mount Olympus with her siblings to wreak all sorts of havoc upon the Greek gods.
As you stare at your television and laugh at the utter amazement in technological absolution that the folks over at Sony Santa Monica Studio have accomplished, you will find yourself involuntarily a) drooling or b) picking your jaw up from the floor. What happens on screen – from the scale, camera movements that well-known directors might envy, and the intoxicating visuals – will leave you, without a doubt, breathless as your marvel at wonders that the developers have conceived. What you experience in the first few minutes of God of War III will clearly justify the very reason why you purchased a PlayStation 3 – it trumps just about anything and everything you’ve ever witnessed in gaming on all plateaus.
Occasionally, you will begin to wonder whether or not you’re actually playing through CG. Yes, the graphics are that great. From the detailed textures, characters (Kratos looks realistic in every sense of the word throughout the entire game), and environments, God of War III has set a new definition for best graphics on a console. But what brings the game to life with regards to realism isn’t only the detailed textures; Dynamic lighting, as you begin to dissect the game’s visuals, provides the substantial effect of realistic representation. It is what makes this visually living and breathing game a behemoth in every sense of the word.
Once you’ve experienced the opening of God of War III, you’re probably hooked to the point where food, liquids and the social world are no longer relevant. At this point, the game is no longer entrenching you as it was, as the game mildly turns it down a notch from the culmination of entertainment you were exposed to in the beginning. It’s not a bad thing, but seldom will you experience that form of excitement again throughout the game.
Through your continuous climb up Mount Olympus, and your excessive battles with whatever stands in your way, you will find that getting to the gods isn’t as easy as you’d hoped. I mean, it wouldn’t be God of War if something or someone didn’t make the task far more challenging. We’re all aware that Kratos’s main task is to shove his barbaric blades into the hearts of all the gods. To do this, however, he will require a power that can only be acquired through the well-known challenges and encounters in ancient mythological Greece. You’ll travel through new and old places in order to satisfy your bewildering appetite that was once shrouded in mystery, as well as encounter characters from the previous games.
One thing that comes to mind when you think of Kratos is an egocentric sociopath with an addicting taste for the blood of deities; and this he has in abundance in this final chapter of the series. As with all entries in the God of War series, this is where his lust for massacre begins. For those familiar with the series, the button inputs and combos remain virtually unchanged from God of War II, but how Quick Time Events are governed is something totally different. One of the most appealing perks of God of War III has to be the silky smooth animations that introduce pandemonium of graceful fidelity; fusing combos seems much easier to a degree of speed, and the total sense of brutality that no game out there can compare to. In addition, because of the PlayStation 3’s technological prosperity, the number and variation of enemies you encounter (depending on the difficulty and situation) commands a much more versatile and appreciative sense of combat, which challenges your overall range of tactics against a much more sophisticated enemy A.I. – who’s attacks and blocking make entering more complex movesets a needy facet of overall battle.
In order to immerse yourself in an expansive aurora of combat against these intelligent enemies, however, you need an arsenal of weaponry which provides the aforementioned repertoire of diversity. The first weapon upgrade you’ll get is the Blades of Exile, which will replace the Blades of Chaos. Accompanying them are three weapons which you control with familiarity (all of which are somewhat mimicked off of the Blades of Exile, with the exception of the Cestus gauntlets), which allows you the opportunistic abilities of long and close-ranged attacks. Although the weapons seem familiar in the sense of overall “feel,” each weapon is extremely unique in the sense that they each work well against a particular group of enemies. In mid-battle, I found myself constantly alternating between each in order to accommodate to the specific styles of each enemy. The best part of this, though, has to be switching between weapons in real-time (through directional buttons or the combination of L1+X), which wasn’t a commodity in the previous games in which you had to back out to the pause screen to select your weapon of choice.
A new move that was introduced is the ability for Kratos to grab onto an enemy from a distance (L1+O) and viciously tackle his way onto them, which stuns the enemy for a moment. Playing the game on Titan mode (hard) rendered this move extremely important in many cases, as it helps Kratos close the gap between himself and the enemy in order for him to unleash a profusion of combos, and to make some separation against mobs (which can be quite annoying on this difficulty).
Those of you accustomed to the Rage of the Gods and Rage of the Titans will no longer be able to use magic in the sense that was once used. Calling for magic abilities like area-of-effect lightning, or scorching your enemies with flamed boulders are no longer available. Instead, Kratos has Rage of Sparta which calls in an army that encloses Kratos in shields from the enemies and, at the same time, thrusting their spears in every direction as seen in the movie 300. Each weapon offers a unique “magic” ability, all which are area-of-effect like, and can be used strategically in specific encounters to maximize its overall efficacy.
Out of the box, God of War III supports 7.1 surround sound – a blessing for those of us audiophiles who have such a set up. The ambient sounds that saturates the room introduces a much more realistic sensation when traveling through certain areas. There were times where I honestly thought things were going on outside, or someone was talking in the next room – that’s how rich the sound comes off.
As extensive as the ambient sounds were, the one thing that I really enjoyed was the musical score – which isn’t at all a letdown. This goes for the voice acting as well, although you will encounter some real cheesy dialogue occasionally that seems like something ripped out of a porno.
Playing the game on Titan mode changed the pacing of the game for me. I’m a firm believer that difficulty does, in my personal opinion, change the overall experience of a game. Although it took me roughly eleven hours, 82 deaths, and tons of aggravation to complete, and it does seem short, I had to take into account that I played the game vigorously for hours on end, skipping meals, and avoiding anything that interfered with me and Kratos kicking the crap out of things (i.e. human contact). This only proves that the pacing in God of War III is just damn great. Pacing is one of the most challenging aspects of creating a game. For the most part, and this was seen a lot back in the day, most developers thought that adding tons of gameplay would increase the overall experience and value of a title. This is where God of War III stands out. Although you’re not immersed in 20 hours of gameplay, you’re exposed to a much shorter but brisker and satisfying game which keeps your attention set throughout the entire expedition to slay the gods. Every inch of the game, although not as insanely felt as the opening scene, keeps you wanting more, which in turn provides the end result of a much leaner and enjoyable game – something that is far more important than length.
The sense of predictability has been eliminated in this final chapter of the series. In the previous games it was kind of easy to actually figure out what was waiting for you around the corner, which takes away that element of surprise. This is another area where God of War III stands out; every bit of the game is just amazingly unpredictable. You’ll run into boss battles which you weren’t expecting, things occur whether or not you’re ready for them, and so forth. As much as you try to be on your guard, something will always happen that will just bewilder you, and this happens often throughout the game. This constant element of surprise is what will keep you hooked for hours on end. That sense of mystery and exploration through those dimly lit corners, or wondering what’s in that next room waiting for you, will no doubt create an obsessive mindset that will perpetuate curiosity and extend playtime.
If you’re wondering where the cons are for God of War III, I have none. The explosive conclusion to the trilogy satisfied the three year hunger I’ve had in abundance. While it seems that elements of the game were nitpicked for their individual wonders, its how these different instruments came together in this beautifully composed game that merits the symphonic masterpiece that is God of War III. While reviews do provide some insight on games, this is one that you will need to experience for yourself in order to embrace everything that this next generation title has achieved. Words can’t describe everything that you will experience – but just know that God of War III will indeed be one of those games that will thrive in your memory for years to come. An epic conclusion to one of the most epic trilogies to grace the gaming industry, God of War III is a definite must buy for any PlayStation 3 owner and fan of the series.
- Title: God of War III
- Platform Reviewed: PS3
- Developer: Sony Santa Monica Studio
- Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
- Release Date: March 16, 2010
- MSRP: $59.99
- Review Copy Info: A copy of the title was provided to DualShockers Inc by the publisher for review purposes