Review: God of War III: Remastered - A Gorgeous Coat of (Red) Paint
God of War III: Remastered
Sony Santa Monica
Sony Computer Entertainment
Review copy provided by the publisher
God of War III: Remastered has finally been released, giving a chance to those who never had a PlayStation console to get a taste of the adventures of Kratos, but is it worth a purchase for those that already played it on PS3?
The story is… Well… It’s God of War, and if you know the series, you pretty much know what I mean, and the third chapter of the series comes with arguably the simplest and least satisfying plot of them all. You can pretty much summarize it as “Kratos is mad. He wants to kill Zeus, so he sets out on a journey to kill him, and everyone else.”
Of course there are a few more details here and there, but let’s be honest, God of War III really isn’t a narrative masterpiece. I know there are many who like to see more depth and more meaning in Kratos’ path of destruction, and maybe that depth and meaning were even intended by the writers, but they still ended up as rather irrelevant.
Kratos is insufferable as ever. He’s close to having only three emotions: angry, more angry, and furious. The rest of the cast is somewhat more enjoyable, even if they pretty much fall into the usual stereotypes, and at times they end up looking and sounding more like caricatures than characters of an epic saga. The one with a bit more depth is Hephaestus, but even the giant blacksmith really isn’t that enthusing.
Ultimately, when the most compelling feature of the cast is Aphrodite’s boobs, we really need to look at something else to enjoy in the game.
Luckily, God of War III: Remastered comes with a ton of that “something else,” starting with the graphics, that are obviously the biggest change from the original.
The visuals are now displayed in full 1080p resolution, and the textures are much more detailed. Lighting and shaders also appear to have received minor improvements here and there. The original looked astonishing for a PS3 game to begin with, and the result is that God of War III: Remastered is gorgeous.
It’s very close to what I’d expect from a native PS4 game, with very high quality models and a lovely level of detail across the board. Especially, many environments are absolutely spectacular, even thanks to the massive scale, that often dwarfs Kratos to a point that is very seldom seen in other action games.
Dynamic levels, where the stage actually moves around like the titan Gaia, contribute to making God of War III: Remastered a real joy for the eyes.
The graphics have definitely been polished until they shine, and very few flaws can be detected. Seldom you’ll notice monsters that didn’t receive the attention dedicated to the rest, and while they’re still far from bad looking, they tend to stand out a bit due to the lower levels of detail on manes, fur and armor plates.
Another little problem is that a few cutscenes are still pre-rendered. While the quality is pretty high, compression artifacts are visible here and there, resulting in a paradox with pre-rendered cutscenes that actually look slightly worse than gameplay and then their in-engine counterparts.
The best improvement is surely the frame rate. While it doesn’t seem to be locked at 60 FPS, it’s up there most of the time. I personally never noticed big dips, and the game really feels silky smooth, which is a blessing for this kind of action-packed title.
Gameplay did not change radically from what we saw in the original God of War III for PS3, which means that it’s fantastic. The only real difference (besides the additional fluidity due to the frame rate) the is that now we can play with the DualShock 4, which is radically superior to the DualShock 3, and definitely makes the whole game more enjoyable.
The game’s action is still definitely one of the best in the genre, with a sensation of power and impact that makes every encounter really satisfying. Kratos slices, dices, rips, kicks, punches, strangles and ultimately annihilates everything he sees, and does so in an extremely stylish way.
Level design displays a large amount of especially inspired moments, contributing to the grandiosity of almost every set piece. Even the puzzle-like areas are very fun to unravel and play. They’re at times pretty complex, with elements like trigger blockers that are often tucked out somewhere out of the way, but I never found them frustrating. With the way the game is paced, they’re actually a refreshing break from all the slaughering and maiming.
There is, though, a subjective red flag. If you dislike quick time events, you may want to steer clear, because there is a metric ton of them, scattered pretty much everywhere in the game. Expect every monster even slightly tougher than rank and file to involve quite a few.
Another little issue is the way the game progresses, which is a bit of a rollercoaster. To reach and kill your first god you’ll have to complete a grandiose ride on the titan Gaia. Your second godly victim will fall after a great sequence of levels mixing action and puzzles masterfully. The third… well… let’s just say that Kratos spits in his direction (figuratively speaking) and he dies gruesomely.
Unfortunately, since this is basically just a visual remaster, the single change that could have revolutionized the game has not been done, and I’m talking about unlocking the camera. Mind you, that’s quite understandable, as most likely many props that are not within the locked camera angles aren’t even modeled. Unlocking the camera would have required rebuilding a large percentage of the game’s environments from scratch.
This reflects on the one relevant new feature coming with the remaster, which is photo mode. Here too the camera is semi-locked. You can only pan left, right, up and down, and zoom in and out. There’s no way to rotate the camera, because that would probably expose areas of the levels that aren’t meant to be seen.
During in-engine cutscenes and quicktime sequences the camera is even more restricted, with panning absent or extremely limited.
The photo mode suite comes with a large amount of frames and filters, and with a bloom option to fine tune brightness. While the inability to choose the camera angle makes the feature much less enjoyable than in other games that include it, it’s still a nice way to shoot some nice screenshots to share with your friends and on social media, or to immortalize the meanest finishers.
If you want to see what the photo mode can do, you can find plenty of screenshots here.
So, is God of War III: Remastered worth its forty bucks price-tag? Unless a good story is absolutely necessary for you to enjoy a game, the answer is inevitably and overwhelmingly “yes” if you don’t own the PS3 version.
If you do, it depends on whether graphics and frame rate are important for you, and on how much you love the franchise. While God of War III: Remaster doesn’t bring new relevant features, nor it fixes some of the (few) flaws of the original, it looks gorgeous, and it’s a real pleasure to play.