The God of War franchise has become the premier beat-em-up in the eyes of many gamers, with its super-tight controls, stunning visuals and excessive brutality. God of War and God of War II on the PS2 were massive successes, both critically and commercially and Sony’s Santa Monica studios has pulled out all the stops to finish the series off in style.
The story of the game is simple and complex, oddly enough. Basically, Kratos has declared war on the pantheon of Greek gods, with his eye on Zeus, in particular. The bulk of the game is Kratos traveling from place to place, wiping out a god here, a demi-god there and acquiring whatever magical item is needed to help him succeed in his quest. The part where things get complex is that much of the game hearkens back to the first two games and even the PSP entry. It’s not a big problem because the game describes what you need to know through gorgeously animated scenes, but I was struggling to figure out opening Pandora’s Box in the first game was affecting events in this one. A minor quibble, however.
The controls, as ever are responsive and you always feel like Kratos is doing exactly what you want him to. The platforming sections are rare, which is good because Kratos’s boots were not made for jumping. The combat, though, is second to none. Each weapon Kratos has (you get four by the end of the game) has its own combo system and feel and upgrading these and then performing the new combos you unlock is extremely satisfying. Each weapon also comes with a magical ability and in addition to that, you have items that you use, such as the Head of Helios, which lights up dark areas and uncovers secret chambers. In short, Kratos has a ton of options at his disposal.
Which is very handy when dealing with the tons of enemies the game throws at you. It’s difficult to count when you are fighting for your life, but there were over 30 enemies onscreen at one point and the game didn’t even seem to notice, as there was no slowdown at all. There was one battle where I was fighting 6 giant cyclops and literally all hell was breaking loose and the game chugged along perfectly. This is a highly polished and beautiful game.
One thing I want to mention is that there is enough variety in enemies that I never felt like I was getting bored or slogging through it. The game will introduce a new enemy and once you get the hang of it, either throw a ton of them at you or combine them others. Gorgons too easy? Try fighting them with a chimera backing them up. These types of things make the game challenging and fresh.
A lot is said about the Quick Time Events and I feel like I would be remiss if I did not address this: I love them. See, when you beat an enemy down, an option appears to start the QTE. You can ignore this and finish the enemy off with normal attacks or you can watch a brutal kill that will grant you extra experience. Personally, I never get tired of watching them and I often exclaimed out loud how how disgusting many of them were. From ripping out eyeballs to disemboweling Titans, Kratos shows no mercy to anyone during the course of his journey.
The game should last you anywhere from 8-10 hours and there are bonus modes to play once you finish it, in addition to hidden items that grant you bonuses on a second playthrough, such as unlimited health or magic power. These turn the game into God Mode and while I don’t care that sort of thing, it does give you the chance to play the game without fear of dying, so I guess it’s good for trying new things.
Gorgeous graphics, sick gameplay and an epic story that slices its way through Greek mythology? I couldn’t sign up for this fast enough. God of War III showcases what the PS3 is capable of and if you have one, you have to play it.