Kratos makes his first vicious appearance on the PlayStation 3 and he’s looking better than ever. This time, he intends to take his vengeance in full by destroying the throne of Olympus along with its godly inhabitants once and for all. With the game taking place immediately after God of War II, find out why this game is currently the next best thing to come on to your PlayStation 3 console.
This review does NOT contain any plot spoilers.
The Good Stuff
– Opening credits: The opening credits revolve around a recap of God of War and God of War II. The sequence comprises of animated graphical illustrations depicting the incidents leading up to God of War III. Very artistic and very handy in giving gamers a recap to fuel their vengeance! Though the illustrations aren’t enough for someone new to the series, you’re still highly recommended to play the first two prior to playing the finale.
– No loading, No installing: No doubt of a great accomplishment by Santa Monica, you can play the entire game without a single loading screen or a hard drive install.
– Opening sequence: The game starts out with the camera panning across the City of Olympia, then up towards Mount Olympus where a number of mammoth sized titans are climbing. Zeus, whose kingdom is being rattled by the titan offensive, rounds up the other gods of Olympus – Poseidon, Hades, Hermes and Helios – in a bid to fight off the ascending threat. Our hero Kratos, being on the forefront of the offence with titan Gaia, taunts Zeus of his presence. One by one, the gods begin their defence with each attacking a titan with the powers they possess.
This leads to Poseidon transforming into a Leviathan [a sea creature] with miniature Leviathan’s attached to him that attack Gaia and Kratos. Amongst the chaos, Kratos runs down the arm of Gaia fighting off a number of undead minions jumping into the Olympus defence. Disposing of the minions, Kratos faces off against his first mini Leviathan. The sequence continues with Kratos losing his grip on Gaia and is forced to grapple on to Mount Olympus. From here, Kratos has a view of Gaia being attacked in the background by more mini Leviathans, which disrupts the mountainous area around Kratos. The remainder of the sequence is filled with more epic encounters and QTEs [quick time events] with mini Leviathans and Poseidon.
The sense of scale is truly phenomenal with the camera scaling out to show the attack of the mini Leviathans on titan Gaia with a few pixel-sized Kratos still being controlled by the player, until the camera flies back in again to focus on Kratos’ fight. It’s undoubtedly the best opening sequence ever to be created for a game surpassing every grand moment seen in the previous God of War games. Oh, and be sure to help lift your jaw back up from the floor once a while.
– Thou Shall See Your Demise: The death of one of Kratos’ foes is seen from a rather intriguing perspective – and that is through the enemy’s own eyes. In the QTE sequence, you see Kratos beating the crap out of you, with punches, kicks, head butts and throws. It’s bloody and the end of the sequence is rather sweet, too.
– Let There Be Light: In Kratos’ struggle to take the fight to Olympus, he is blinded by a sudden burst of bright light from a source up ahead. This leads to a very artistic mini game where the game’s camera closes in behind Kratos with only the analogue sticks being required to progress. The right analogue stick controls Kratos’ out-stretched arm used to block the incoming light, while the left analogue stick is used for advancing once the light has been blocked. It’s beautifully done, and so too is the follow up.
– Icarus Ascension: With Kratos holding on to the wings of Icarus from God of War II, this allows for the creation of another innovative mini game whereby Kratos is required to steer himself through a path filled with interconnected pillars, tight gaps, falling rocks and debris during a flight to reach higher ground – clever, and saves you from having to climb a few thousand metres worth of chain, which by the way, you can’t.
– Shadow of the Titan: Fans of Shadow of the Colossus [a Sony PlayStation 2 masterpiece] will recognise and love this level straight away. Let’s just say that the epic opener is somewhat matched by this meeting, particularly in terms of scalability. Find out the rest for yourself.
– Series Formula Retained: Everything great in the previous God of War games in relation to the game play and game elements has been untouched, or has had very minimal tweaking hence maintaining the original feel. The primary and secondary weapon attacks worked so well before that they’ve been retained for the third instalment. However, the controls for Kratos’ weapon selection, special and godly attacks have been organised much better compared to previous outings.
For instance, you’re able to change weapons using the d-pad or can change weapons on the fly during a combo quite easily, effectively varying your combos. The special attacks run off R2 with the type of attack being dictated by the weapon Kratos is holding. And then you have the godly attacks, which are abilities Kratos acquires throughout the game such as Apollo’s bow – these are executed via holding L2 coupled with either cross, square or triangle.
All your weapons and abilities can be upgraded by the number of souls [or red orbs] Kratos claims. The gorgon eye and phoenix feather chest boxes have returned with the addition of a minotaur horn chest box. Collecting three of each increases your health, magic and power bars. The QTE button prompts have been positioned better allowing you pull off the correct sequence pretty much without having to take your eyes off the action. The series’ fixed game camera has made a return too, and surprisingly works well. Let’s not forget the notorious sex mini game, now with a purpose other than retrieving some red orbs. Actually, you might screw up on this QTE sequence since the scene is filled with two semi-naked horny chicks watching in on Kratos’ steamy session.
– Graphics/Cinematic: When reaching the game’s main menu, you’ll immediately realise the gorgeous looking graphics visible on a close up of Kratos. The attention to detail is staggering, from the facial features and expressions down to pores in Kratos’ skin. Though this level of detail is not consistent throughout the game, the game’s environments and other characters aren’t lacking much in detail. Of further interest are the game’s cinematic movies, and that’s exactly what they are despite being rendered with in-game elements. Remember, there are no loading screens so you’re treated to a seamless experience of jumping from playing the game into a cinematic and vice versa.
– Original Score: The original soundtrack has received the upgrade treatment too with it packing more of an oomph compared to previous brass-heavy editions. Nor is the original soundtrack used as much hence bringing about some new musical scores, one of which you’ll notice from the game’s menu in the PlayStation 3 home screen.
– Blood-soaked Kratos: There is a lot of blood in this game, and this will show on Kratos as he rips heads off and breaks enemies into two causing blood to gush out all over him – making him look bloody brilliant.
– Godly Possessions: Introducing a treasure hunt element, there are a number of godly items Kratos can find that can be used after completing your first play-through. These items give Kratos some added abilities such as stronger attacks and heavier armour. My favourite item is one that continuously depletes Kratos’ energy over time till there’s just enough left to stand up on your feet. Try beating the game with that one!
– Ending Sequence: How brutal are you? Well here’s your chance to show it to your heart’s content. Though admittedly, I was more interested in trying to get a 1000 hit combo, which didn’t work. So be warned.
The Bad Stuff
– Lack of Weapon Diversity: Once Kratos gains all of the game’s weapons, you’ll notice three out of the four weapons are chain and blade based. While the initial moves vary in terms of action and execution, you can’t help but feel the similarities. The Cestus weapon [lion shaped metal gauntlets] is an excellent addition to Kratos’ arsenal. However, the game required at least another chain-free based weapon to offer attack variety.
– Repetitive Kill Animations: It’s very easy to get bored of the game’s repetitive kill animations. Each enemy has a fixed kill animation sequence, which you’ll see again and again. With the added space of a Blu-ray, the game should have included at least 2 or 3 unique kill animations per enemy rotating randomly to add a mixture of brutality.
In a Nutshell
God of War III is truly a masterpiece filled with many epic encounters, articulate moments, and violent scenes that redefine the meaning of brutality. With the trilogy complete, the story of Kratos comes to an inevitable end and I feel that our hero Kratos got the right sending off. There’s enough here to draw you back for a second, or even third play-through and that’s not only due to the option of trying a harder mode, or trying the acquired godly items, but just for the sheer pleasure of experiencing those grand and memorable moments in Kratos’ 9-hour or so journey. Not to mention the extra content of timed battles called Challenge of Olympus and the Combat Arena, adding to replay value. Santa Monica has raised the bar once again, and that’s not only for the hack n slash genre. That is some achievement, for it is their first ever title on the PlayStation 3 platform.
Score: 9.7 / 10