It’s been three years since God of War II came out for the PS2, and we thought this game wouldn’t arrive soon enough. Luckily, the wait has finally come to an end, and so has Kratos’ vengeance – at least, that’s what he says. If you think about it, we’ve waited for this game longer than we did for the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy to end, so it better be good, right?
Fortunately, it doesn’t disappoint. God of War III surpasses the first two God of War games in almost all possible ways; it has higher production values, high-definition graphics with an outstanding attention to detail, more expansive environments, more characters and enemies than ever, and a deep plot that puts the final seal on the mythological story that began back in 2005.
In Kratos’ last quest, everyone has gone mad. Kratos couldn’t have more rage and desperation, and the Titans themselves are determined to finish the Gods and destroy Olympus once and for all. Easier said than done, Gaia sets out to reach Zeus and kill him, but it is a rough climb. Kratos has the same goal in mind, but soon they’ll both realize they have different priorities and motives. After all, Kratos has been to hell and back, he’s destroyed his own city, killed his family, and executed the blood-thirsty Ares. He was even crowned God of War in the process, though that didn’t last long. In this final chapter, he’ll go through whatever steps necessary to kill his father Zeus, and that includes finding Pandora and her box, and unleashing the “power to kill a God.” No easy feat, that’s for sure, but, will he manage to do it? You’ll have to finish the game to find that out, but all I can say is the ending will surprise you! It’s a loooong surprise.
Unlike previous games, you start GOW 3 with a nice set of skills. Some of the items you collected during the second game are now part of your collection and will help you with the quest. The Wings of Icarus are extremely important this time around, letting you hover down to hard-to-reach areas, get through wide gaps, ascend to higher platforms via clouds of steam, etc. You’ll also carry the powerful Blades of Athena, now loaded with a bunch more power and coupled with Kratos’ unstoppable rage. Of course, things don’t stop at that; you’ll still have to collect orbs, use them for upgrades, and find new items to build up your arsenal. By the end of the game, Kratos will be able to do anything and everything – running at the speed of light, charging towards enemies, releasing ghostly creatures during fights, latching onto grapple points and airborne creatures, and blinding foes with light will be some of his tricks at hand.
The development team has managed to provide Kratos with very compelling abilities, magic powers, and weaponry this time around. All the main weapons are almost as desirable as the classic double-chains, each with their own twist, but with equally strong combo attacks and devastating results. One of my favorites is collected later in the game. It’s the Navean Cestus. Once you upgrade them, these destructive metallic fists will power through enemies like there’s no tomorrow. You can crack things open, crush opponents with a potent power-slam, and fight even the fiercest of bosses with confidence. Many will perish under Kratos’ upgraded fists, their faces deformed and blood pouring out like an endless river.
If blood turns you on, you’re in for a treat in God of War III. The amount of gore seen in this game can’t compare with that of previous installments. Our furious warrior will rip enemies apart like they were made of paper, and his blades will cut through them like they were butter. Except that mostly everyone is made of flesh and bones, leading to gruesome scenes of terror. Agonizing civilians, harpies, centaurs, minotaurs, scorpions, soldiers, emaciated minions, and more, they all face the same gory fate at the hands of Kratos, all the while his body’s showered in blood splatters.
Combat could have been a little more diverse in God of War III, and perhaps that’s my biggest complaint. Though we’re used to the combo-based attacks found in the other God of War titles, some more variety would have been nice, as we found ourselves repeating many of the same attacks over and over. Blocking is effective, which allows for satisfying counterstrikes, but at the end of the day, enemies die in the same four of five ways most of the time. We would have loved to see some more spectacular deaths other than the ones delivered to bosses and mini-bosses in only certain parts of the game.
The controls are about the same as in previous games, using the face buttons for light and heavy attacks, jumping, and grabbing enemies. The shoulder buttons are used for magic blows, alternative attacks, secondary weapons, grappling, etc. Once you collect new weapons, you can toggle through them with the D-pad. We had a few problems with the weapons randomly changing on us in the middle of battle, but perhaps it was all a product of the intense action and unavoidable button-mashing you run into after a while.
God of War III has almost non-stop action. You’ll be done with a group of enemies, and soon enough you’ll be fighting the next ones. Oftentimes, apparently inoffensive foes will seem stronger than certain bosses, which is puzzling and a bit discouraging. The game could have probably used a bit more balance and consistently escalate in difficulty, but instead, it gets a little repetitive and overly intense towards the end.
The God of War formula has changed a bit in GOW 3. Overall, there’s less platforming. Also, the amount of puzzles and their increasing difficulty will surprise you. It’s not just about pushing a box around to place it over a switch and keeping the gate open anymore. You’ll come across some time-consuming puzzles that make this God of War more of a Prince of Persia or Tomb Raider kind of game. That’s not to say the puzzles are not fun, because they are; it just seemed a little out of place for a typically action-packed, no-screwing-around franchise.
Of course, if anything has changed since the first God of War it is the visuals. The power of the PS3 has been pushed to the limits in God of War III, and probably the “power” of the developers too, who’ve paid plenty of attention to even the smallest of details. The world of God of War III is vast and full of creatures, ever-changing locations and environments, and a Kratos with more war scars and wrinkles than a sixty-year-old veteran. The Ghost of Sparta carries along a gloomy past, and you can tell by the look of his dry, ashen skin, as well as his angry and disgusted facial expressions. GOW 3 looks amazing in high-definition, and most textures are so rich they look real.
As you can imagine, God of War III is an expensive, high-quality production. For that very reason, an A+ soundtrack is to be expected. The music is excellent and does a great job of setting the mood for combat. It makes Kratos seem powerful and almighty, getting us ready for battle as we hear “Kraaaatos… Kraaaatosss!” The only thing I would have done differently is adding a fresh touch to the soundtrack with a few more varied music tracks. In that regard, it didn’t seem like we were playing a brand new game, but rather a continuation of the second one. The voice acting is as good as always, making each of the characters believable, which is the ultimate goal.
All in all, God of War III is everything you were expecting and more. It really delivers with extremely upgraded graphics, a quality soundtrack, easy-to-learn controls, varied weapons and powers, challenging battles, enemy diversity, plenty of boss battles, immersive puzzles, a story that ties up the loose ends, and much more. My only gripe is the lack of innovation, so perhaps it’s a good thing the story has come to an end, even if we’re sad about it. With at least 12 hours of gameplay the first time around, items to be used in a second play-through, unlockable challenges, and some of the best graphics ever seen in an adventure game, there are quite a few reasons for you to pick up God of War III, so don’t miss out!
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.8 Graphics
Impressive graphics stand out in ultra high definition with greatly detailed textures and a scarred-to-life, angrier-than-ever Kratos. 4.5 Control
Same great controls we’re used to, with just a few issues when switching weapons on the fly. 4.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Movie-quality soundtrack is similar to the one we heard in the previous titles. It could have used a fresh touch. Voice acting is top-notch for the most part. 4.8 Play Value
If you like God of War, you simply must play this game. The story comes to an end, and there are plenty of unlockables you can use in a second play-through. 4.6 Overall Rating – Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.