Review by MercilessOne
"The Gods should be fearful; this is brutally magnificent"
Vengeance upon the gods is a bloody and long journey, but like many, long journeys, there is an end to it all. The end is finally here, and it is synonymous with a vengeful Spartan warrior by the name of Kratos. The man, the God of War, the demi-god who has done some unimaginable things that can only be described as unbelievable, outrageous, gory, epic, and just downright freaking incredible. These are just a few of the words that accurately fit the description of one of the most visually impressive titles to grace not just anyone fortunate enough to own a PlayStation 3, but rather anyone who appreciates a game that takes intricate backgrounds, amazing graphics, and an astounding sense of scale in gorgeous high definition. Zeus, your son has indeed returned.
Where does it all begin? On Mount Olympus and straight through to the top of it of course! The game picks up directly after the second God of War, and without spoiling too much, begins in one of the most hectic and grandest battlefields yet. While a war of epic proportions rages in the background, you willingly charge forward, while running atop Gaia, the motherly titan, knowing that your revenge with those above (minor spoilers, but to anyone who has played the previous games, you know exactly who or what I'm talking about) will soon be yours. As you rip through and slash your way through the first couple of minutes against a familiar set of enemies, within moments, the introduction and tutorial is over... and there you stand, ready to face off against your first boss, the stunningly beautiful and at the same time terrifying, watery, behemoth of creature known as the leviathan. Sounds like the makings of yet another massive battle, doesn't it? It very much is. The series is known for its relatively high difficulty, and the third installment is no exception. It's that refreshing toughness and intensity for a generation that caters more and more to the casual crowd, that is very much appreciated. The rest of that climb to the top, as they say, is history (and won't be revealed for the sake of those who have yet to see the game themselves). Majority of the first few sections in the beginning are on a level that is seemingly alive. In fact, Gaia is very much alive. Every piece is alive. Only very few pre-rendered sets, and cutscenes that transition seamlessly to and from gameplay. Everything from the same engine, put together beautifully in stunning 1080i.
Much of the game's mechanics remain unchanged. Kratos still tears through his enemies with visceral fluidity that we've all grown accustomed to. The controls are still tight, very responsive, and fairly easy to pick up, especially to new players of the series. The button-masher setup is still here, but with a few new, and very welcome tweaks. There are still combos and numerous attacks you can unleash upon your foes, but it can now all be linked together. For instance, you can now grab far away enemies or some that are idling in the back with a simple command and continue long combos without hindrance. You may also grab an enemy and use it like a battering ram against large groups. You can also quickly switch in between weapons while attacking, allowing countless combination attacks that will brighten up your screen like a light show. There a couple of new weapons at your disposal, along with some oldies. Most of them are all very much alike, with the exception of my personal favorite, the Nemean Cestus; large, lion-shaped gloves that Kratos can punch and pound enemies with. Despite the lack of variety, each weapon is now required at times in certain sections of levels, giving you equal opportunity to try out and use each one, which adds purpose to everything that you can acquire, unlike previous installments where you could play through the game with just one of them and ignore the rest. A nice improvement that adds a bit more depth to the overall game.
God of War III still follows the same, somewhat linear level design. The game plods along forward, with little emphasis on backtracking and free-roaming. But don't be discouraged, none of this is really a problem, nor does it take away from the whole experience. Thankfully, each area that you find yourself in has a pocket full of hidden secrets that only the more competent players will be able to find. All segments and sequences include vivid and perfectly placed camera angles that give the player the best shot of each scene, and add layer of excitement that rival even most Hollywood action films. Many of the cutscenes are integrated along with the gameplay, giving you the engrossing experience equal to that of an interactive movie. All characters that you will encounter, including the gritty spartan himself, are all animated with an insane amount of detail. The Ghost of Sparta never looked so good, and every little detail, right down to his facial expressions, and the pores on his skin, are touched up very nicely. Even the grunts and little guys get the next-gen treatment. Literally no stone has been left unturned. It is that attention to detail, that I often wonder to myself how I am playing a game that looks this fantastic and almost frighteningly real at times. Again, everything is seamless with virtually no loading times (except for a few cases). Not a pixel is out of place, not even a small hint of slowdown, as the game runs smoothly the entire time. A technical achievement indeed.
The story continues directly where the second game left off. It fits just perfectly into the game's workings where the player doesn't completely lose interest, or not too complex and mind-bending that it will leave many utterly baffled, asking those around us, "what the hell happened just now?" There are a few hiccups here and there, but the general synopsis gives enough entertainment for everyone to enjoy. Long story short, Kratos is pissed off, and wants revenge on the gods. While the game keeps a serious-minded tone most of the way through, there are a few humorous and dirty tidbits thrown in for a good laugh or two (just wait until you reach Aphrodite's chamber). Fans familiar with quick-time events (the "push-the-button-you-see on-screen" sequences) a staple in every God of War game, are back, but the button prompts have moved to their respective sides of your screen, to give it a tiny bit more of a challenge. These events may also occur during cutscenes, or right after an epic fight, so don't ever blink... or you will end up dead. Puzzles also make a triumphant return to the game. Each one the player encounters and must complete (with one not-so-great exception) is interspersed cleverly into each area. The sounds and music of God of War III are truly something to behold. The musical scores are so intense, so dramatic, so heart-pounding, that without them, it feels as though the game would only be half as great as it really is. Many of the previous voice-actors have returned to give each of the characters a life of their own, along with a few new all-star personalities. If this is your first God of War, don't worry about missing out on the rest of the story, as the cinematic introduction gets you up to speed with everything that has happened so far.
A game like this thrives on epic and often unforgettable moments. And moments like those come aplenty. From a dauntless battle with the ruler of the underworld, to a confrontation with an ancient titan the size of a mountain, all the way to the very end with one last battle with Zeus (seriously, who else could it be?), you will be picking your lower jaw up off the floor very often. Very few games have anything to offer that rival what God of War III has. However, with brilliance that comes once in a blue moon such as this, there are, as always, some noticeable flaws. The story is great, yes, very cinematic, but the ending is bit of a disappointment to some (to me as well, to a certain degree). A soggy, final battle wasn't the sort of thing I was expecting, after all the chaos unleashed, and the struggle Kratos endured, it all ends in a rather anti-climatic and surprisingly cheesy way. Then there's also the rest of the game. Yes it's God of War for the next-generation, but it doesn't offer anything really different (which honestly isn't problem, because this IS God of War; don't fix what ain't broken) or add more to it that could make the game more remarkable. The content may also be an issue. There are many unlockables, plus the challenge mode found in the previous games, but there just isn't enough to play around with. Less costumes? Lesser initiative to play through the game again? Yep. But then again, there is the platinum trophy to give players something to work for (really though, who cares?) Or, there might be downloadable content in the future... in this case fingers are crossed. Still, don't hold your breath for too long. Length can also be a bit of a dilemma. If you're really good, you can plow through this game within a few hours, which to me, is just the right amount, but again, others will find it frustrating and/or disappointing. Despite these small ramblings, this is a game that combines simple and addictive gameplay mechanics with big, blockbuster special effects in surreal HD. God of War III is a game you simply cannot miss out on. If you want a heroic tale that blurs out the line between spectacular movies and gallant games, this is it. After pouring hours and hours into it, dismembering and maiming everything that tried to kill me, finally taking down the king of the gods, and watching the credits finish, I safely tucked this gem away in its case, and put it away in a corner. Because I knew full well that what I got to experience was not just another great game, but one of the definitive masterpieces of this generation.
Final Words: A violent, extraordinary tale with an overload of awesome and epic. And, oh yeah, Kratos is the man.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 11/22/10
Game Release: God of War III (US, 03/16/10)
Got Your Own Opinion?
You can submit your own review for this game using our Review Submission Form.