God of War III ReviewPatrick Honeyman
Brutal, brutal, brutal. This is the most distinct impression God of War III will leave on the player when they have played through the most recent tale of Kratos battle with the Gods of Olympus. GOW III is certainly a game that refuses to shy away from the sheer brutality of the war between Kratos, the Olympian Gods and the Titans but is there more to the game than sheer brutality or is it just a cause for hours of bloodshed and gornography? Read on to find out.
The latest game in the GOW franchise picks up from the end of the previous game with Kratos on the back of the Gaia, scaling Mount Olympus to take on the Gods in revenge for the previous misgivings they have caused Kratos (namely tricking him into slaying his own family and taking the power of being the God of War he held previously away from him). The game wastes no time in introducing the player to the gods that aim to protect Mount Olympus and the opening battle with the god Poseidon is held on a grand scale as you fight him in a giant seahorse meets crustacean around various parts of the titan Gaia. The end of the battle sets the tone for the level of violence that ensues as you play through the game and although I will not spoil the surprise when you play the game yourself you will see what I mean. Lets not fixate only on the violence and take a look at how Kratos plays.
As the game opens you are given Kratos trustworthy chain blades with which you can perform a variety of combos via different button combinations and utilise magic by pressing the R2 button. The L1 button acts as a block for Kratos as well as allowing him to perform certain moves with over button combinations and occasional counters as well. More so than previous games in the series Kratos will procure a variety of weapons that he can use in battle, each with their own combo sets, uses and special abilities. For example, the claws of Hades will allow you to pull soul power out of your enemies to use as an attack against them and the cestus (the two big punching gauntlets from the original demo) allow Kratos to break into areas he may not have not been able o enter previously. You can switch between the weapons in your repertoire via pressing different directions on the D-pad or whilst pressing the L1 and X buttons together whilst in battle. Either way it allows Kratos more ways to batter his opponents and changing weapons on the fly certainly helps to keep up the anti in battle rather than breaking off into the pause menu.
In addition to Kratos main proponents of destructions he will also pick up additional items that will provide him with new abilities as you play through the game. He retains Icarus wings and the Golden Fleece from the previous games in the series and will obtain the head of Helios that can be used to light darkened areas, unveil secrets and blind enemies as well as Hermes boots to dash up and over walls, among other useful tools. These together with Kratos main weapons can be used in combination to liven up battling and keep you one step ahead of the enemy. All of these items can be powered up in the games pause menu by gathering red orbs (the games experience points) from chests, defeating enemies and using them to level up his different weapons and gain extra abilities/strength/speed, etc.
As per the prior two games, Kratos is still able to finish of the games various enemies in brutal style with various finishing moves that always look vicious and in some cases will allow him to rejuvenate either his health, magic or power of the gods gauges. As expected, these finishers vary from gutting a centaur to breaking a sirens spine backwards to slaying a minotaur by stabbing them through the chin right through to the topside of their head. The boss fights are also highly satisfying and I wont spoil any details here but they each have their own engaging encounters that could be seen as the highlight of the game (youll have to play to see for yourself).
From a graphical standpoint I can only say that GOW III brings the wow factor to the plate. We do hear this said often but it is nice that new games continue to set the bar for graphical quality in games and GOW III is no exception. From the games opening through to its end no part of the game looks sub-par to any other. Kratos has had much time put into the amazing detail that graces him as do all the other major characters in the game. The look of the Gods and the era in which the game is set are spot on and the sense of scale is maybe only paralleled by Bayonetta in sheer size and magnitude. That the game allows you to take all of this in whilst keeping the control in your hands is most welcome and to match the artistic quality of the game the music and character voices are of the highest and grandest quality to absorb you into the GOW world and its mythos (certainly, through a good sound system certain characters voices echo with might). It all combines to make a spectacular experience for the player, much like Uncharted 2 or any other recent game blockbuster.
Now, for all that the game does right there are a couple of issues that plague GOW III. If you come to this sequel expecting entirely new gameplay then dont be too upset when you find that the most recent GOW game refines what has gone before with a few minor tweaks. This game is, after all, wrapping up Kratos story and it may even feel strange if the overall gameplay system were to be given a reworking here but some players may be a little disappointed with how little has changed in the controls. Another minor issue is that double jumping in the game over gaps seemed to be a little touch and go with the controls not always responding as expected and resulting in some unnecessary deaths fro Kratos. There were also certain parts of the game were so dark that it was hard to comprehend what was happening on screen (and Im not talking about the pitch black areas). I understand that this was done to set the scene but if I cant see the path in front of me then this will only lead to frustration as I yet again run off of a ledge I simply didnt know was there. Finally, although the flying sections were brief and mostly well implemented please dont punish the player so heavily for colliding with an object once. It takes the fun out of the game and almost made me want to stop playing at certain points.
Negative issues aside GOW III has been called epic more times than I can count but I cant think a better descriptive word to describe the experience as you play through Kratos latest tale of revenge against Zeus and the Gods of Olympus. The marriage of the beautiful graphics, sound, areas, characters and gameplay come together to create something special for a game that is the third in the series and will certainly have parts that you just will not see replicated in any other game any time soon. Like the start of this review mentioned, GOW III that does not relent from being brutal, brutal, brutal but who can complain when it the experience is delivered so well here? It could just be the God of action games so far.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.