|System: PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: SONY Santa Monica||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SONY||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Mar. 16, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Adam Brown
April 3, 2009 - When looking back at the PS2, it would be incredibly difficult to point out a specific title or series that defined the system. This isnt because there was a lack of good software on the platform, actually quite the contrary. Of course, if one was forced to choose from the plethora of fantastic games, the God of War series would likely be high on the list of contenders, if not the first named.
The mix of an epic and mature storyline, great gameplay, impressive visuals, and sheer brutality gave many PS2 owners a reason to rejoice, even fairly late (or so we thought at the time) into the consoles lifecycle. But as with all video games franchises, there eventually comes a time when to progress they need to make the leap to a more powerful console.
Although the end of Kratos' epic trilogy won't be playable on the PS2, the additional power provided by the PS3 should make it the most impressive God of War (GOW) to date. After the first GOW, the development team knew they had something special on their hands. This meant that they'd definitely be making at least a couple sequels and would need to become intimately acquainted with the PS2's successor for their third title. So, shortly after the original GOW was finished the team split into two, with the larger group going on to make the first sequel, GOW II, and a much smaller group beginning the processes of figuring out how to best bring GOW to life on the PS3. Because of this decision, when GOW II was finished these two groups reunited and already had a leg up on the development of GOW III. Even if you're only judging based solely on the game's graphics, this strategy certainly appears to be paying off in spades.
Due to this extra time spent with the often labeled "complex" PS3 hardware, GOW III is already looking like one of the most visually impressive titles ever shown. Kratos himself looks incredibly polished and detailed, with wrinkles and imperfections noticeable in his skin as it shifts and stretches accurately based on his movements. Blood spatters will realistically begin to soak Kratos' arms, weapons, and anything else that comes into contact with the red showers spraying forth from his newly eviscerated enemies. All of the violence we've all come to associate with this series will be that much more gruesome and realistic thanks to the new hardware, including tearing out Cyclops' eyeballs and ripping off enemies' heads with your bare hands.
The massive leap in processing power between the PS2 and PS3 was also necessary in order to continue the story in the way it was intended. (GOW II SPOILER WARNING) At the end of GOW II, Kratos has reignited the war between the Titans and Gods in an attempt to get revenge on Zeus. The game ends with Kratos riding atop the Titan Gaia as it ascends Mt Olympus, which is right where GOW III picks up. In what the developers refer to as "Titan Gameplay," Kratos will spend much of the game traversing massive environments, which are actually entirely on the backs of these enormous creatures. These Titans, some of which measuring taller than the Sears Tower in Chicago, couldn't have possibly existed on the PS2.
Aside from just being impressive to look at, these Titan-based levels will also have a unique affect on the gameplay. As one would expect, since the Titans are living beings, they tend to move, especially when climbing. This can result in drastic shifts in the world, sometimes transitioning what used to be the ground you were walking on into a vertical wall in a matter of seconds. An interesting concept to be sure, and one that should help to showcase the game's excellently designed environments.
Much like these somewhat traditional environments seemingly made anew by a fascinating twist, the tried and true gameplay that has always been a part of the GOW series is here but with several improvements. GOW III will still provide players with a good mix of platforming, puzzle solving, combat, and quick-time events. Combat in particular seems to have received a lot of attention although it doesn't completely reinvent the wheel. Combos will still be fairly easy to remember and pull off with short sequences like square, square, triangle being amongst the most complex button presses necessary.
However, where most players gravitated towards exclusively using the Blades of Athena in previous titles, all the weapons in GOW III are supposed to be equally handy in different situations. The Blades of Athena are great for quickly cutting through hordes of enemies at a distance, but the new Cestus weapon is best reserved for when said enemies get too close for comfort. These lion head-shaped gauntlets have a set of rings that expand and contract while swinging, creating a concussive force when they make contact. If you happen to strike an enemy or a group of enemies, expect them to fly back similarly to what was witnessed in The Fellowship of the Ring when Sauron struck his foes. Players will also be more likely to experiment with all of the game's various tools of destruction, since it will now be possible to easily switch between your various options on the fly with a single button press.
There will be some other new abilities that can also be used to help combat the larger groups of enemies (up to fifty at a time) found on screen in this title. Kratos can now perform a wall run, which can be combined with attacks to create an interesting aerial offense. Once you've grabbed an enemy, you'll now have some new options for inflicting pain such as slamming their heads off of a wall repeatedly or using them as a meat shield/battering ram as you place them on your shoulder and charge into crowds. However, if things get too frantic for traditional means, Kratos can now employ the help of some of his enemies. Players will have the ability to ride some enemies, like the Cyclops, by jumping on and letting their blades work as an interpreter. Kratos can stab his unwilling mount in the left or right shoulder, resulting in a painful flailing in the same direction. While these rides may not last very long, they look like they will certainly help clear out a large number of enemies.
It may be upsetting to some fans that the trilogy didn't wrap up on the system where it began, but the shift should make for a much more remarkable finale. The PS3 looks like it will allow for several things that just wouldn't have been possible on the aging PS2. Considering we've only been shown what is essentially the tip of the GOW III iceberg, fans can expect the title to only get more impressive before its eventual, yet unannounced release. Check back for more information on GOW III closer to E3, as there are several rumors circulating that it may make an appearance at this year's show.
CCC Staff Contributor