Review: God of War III
It's finally here, after three years of waiting and anticipation, God of War III, the last game in the trilogy and the last of one of the PlayStation's greatest games of all time.
- Worth The Time?Yes, with zero doubt.
- Things LovedThe game holds absolutely nothing back, the phenomenal action, the unbelievable scale, it's one of the most epic games you'll ever play, the jaw-dropping boss battles, the refined combat system, the new weapons and abilities and revised magic system, it's a visual masterpiece, the amazing sound effects, the improved quick time events.
- Things HatedThere are small graphical flaws, the camera can occasionally bug out and block your view of things although this happens rarely.
- RecommendationAll PS3 owners and especially God of War fans should not hesitate to buy this.
- Name: God of War III
- Genre: Action Adventure, Hack & Slash
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: N/A
- Platforms: PS3 Exclusive
- Developer: SCE Santa Monica Studios
- Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
- Price: R624-699
- Reviewed On: PS3
I don’t want to give anything away of the story, because this is the game that you have to experience entirely for yourself in order to truly realise how amazing it is. However, what I will say is that God of War III picks up right where God of War II left off, with Kratos riding on the back of the Titan Gaia as the two of them, as well as all of the other Titans, climb Mount Olympus to take the fight to the Gods. From minute one, you’ll be introduced to the breath-taking and epic scale of this game and, believe me, this isn’t just another God of War, this is the pinnacle of next-generation action, and you will simply be blown away by what Santa Monica Studios has done with the final game in the trilogy. This is the game where Kratos will, at long last, have his ultimate revenge.
God of War III has truly taken the gameplay from the previous games and perfected it. While there is a great deal of familiarity in the core gameplay, there have been numerous amounts of changes and additions that ultimately lead me to say that the accusations stating, as a flaw, that God of War III is too similar to previous games in the series, are complete rubbish. In fact, to use an appropriate cliche, why fix what isn’t broken – especially when we’re looking at the final game in one of the greatest action series’ of all time? Just my opinion. Essentially, there is more than enough familiarity in the gameplay to make any God of War fan feel right at home, while there are plenty new additions and little changes that sometimes make the game feel entirely new.
The combat is as excellent, brutal and responsive as ever. It really seems like God of War III went all out with the action, then again the central focus of the game is based entirely on it, more than ever before, so it makes sense. This time around, you’ll be put up against hoards of enemies at any given time, so you’ll need to be constantly moving and utilising your evasion, counter and attack skills. This is greatly aided by the extreme fluidity of the combat, refined to the point of perfection in the series. There are new moves, such as the shoulder barge, where Kratos hooks his blades onto an enemy at a distance and launches himself towards them, ramming them backwards, or to the ground if done from the air, and this single move alone manages to change a lot in the combat. There are now wall combos, more area of effect moves and a new retaliate feature, where on occasion if Kratos gets knocked into the air he can come right back down with vengeance with an attack of your choice. All of this ensures that the combat feels as free and flowing as can be, and you’re ultimately always in control.
A great change in mechanics is definitely within the magic system and with the addition of items. Unlike previous games in the series, in God of War III magic is bonded to each of your four weapons, so not only is switching between spells much easier, but you’ll also always know which spell you have equipped without having to look. Magic spells are now very useful and great in combat, and you won’t be sticking to that one area of effect spell as you did before and neither will you be ignoring upgrading your spells, as you no longer have to, since they are tied to your weapons, and so ultimately upgrading the weapon improves the spell attached to it. Changing between weapons is still done with the directional keys, but you’re now also able to switch mid-combo by using L1 and X, which is an excellent way of changing weapons, as it allows you to string together combos and continue your assault without missing a beat. The addition of items was a great idea, as they are acquired at set points in the game as part of the story and are used both in combat and to solve puzzles. The use of these items are governed by a yellow bar underneath your magic bar, which depletes as you use your items, such as Apollo’s Bow, but recharges very quickly, allowing you permanent access to items.
The only gripe I have with the weapons is that, aside from the Nemean Cestus, the giant lion-head gauntlets, the other two weapons you acquire are not as effective as your primary blades. They’re a great deal of fun to use and look and animate spectacularly, but the Cetus and blades will ultimately be your weapons of choice if we’re not taking personal preference into account. That said, it’s admirable that all four weapons are useful and great in any fight and are a joy to use. Fortunately, since this game focuses a great deal more on action, there are plenty more red orbs to obtain than previous games, allowing you to fully upgrade nearly all of your weapons and items on your first play-through, even if you only get a fair amount of secrets, which is a nice change from previous games. With this, you’re allowed to expand your range and experiment with the various tools at your disposal, while still powering up your main weapons.
What has also been greatly reworked are the quick-time events for finishing off enemies and bosses, as the button inputs are now displayed on the edges of the screen rather than in the middle. What this does is that it allows you to focus entirely on the action, not missing a second, while using your peripheral vision to spot the button inputs. Believe me, you don’t want to be missing any of the action in this game, so it’s an awesome improvement. Furthermore, the buttons appear on screen in relation to where they are on the controller. Meaning that if you are required to press triangle, the button prompt will appear on top, or if you need to spin the analogue, it will appear on the bottom left, where the stick is. You don’t have to look out for the buttons on screen, as they will always appear in the same place depending on the input. Ultimately, God of War III has one of the best executions of quick-time events in gaming, probably second only to Heavy Rain – at times even besting it.
God of War III redefines “scale” in gaming, as the magnitude and scope of the game is sometimes hard to believe, going to heights that few games dare to. You’ll fight it out with enemies who are bigger than entire levels, travel across vast environments with stunning detail and experience tons of moments that are unforgettable. All of this at a rock solid frame rate and absolutely no installation or loading times, which is incredible, especially when considering that this game takes up round about 35GB of space on a Blu-ray disc. You’ll only ever see the loading screen when you first load your save game or after you die, returning to the last checkpoint. What’s also awesome is how the camera has taken a much more cinematic approach to the action, switching camera angles for the best view of things, especially during some of the kills and cutscenes. Admittedly and unfortunately, there are very few times when the camera will get in the way, blocking out things while playing, but it’s not game-breaking. There are also a couple of bugs, like collision problems when enemies hit solid surfaces and the one or two instances of Kratos getting stuck on something. Luckily, you will always manage to escape if you get stuck, and fortunately these issues are very, very rare, not causing any game-breaking problems.
Often, God of War III presents itself as the best looking game ever made. With outstanding attention to detail, mind blasting and beautiful graphics and incredible animation, this game pushes the boundaries of next-gen. After the first five minutes of the game, your jaw will practically be lying uselessly on the ground, and that’s before you realise that there is still a long way to go. Unfortunately, because of how amazing the graphics are, you will at times notice the flaws in the presentation. Small things, like certain objects not having the level of texture work as others, unimportant characters not carrying the same level of detail that Kratos or one of the main characters has – mostly minor aspects, but quite noticeable dents in an otherwise extraordinary graphical masterpiece. The sound work is fantastic, delivering some epic musical scores that set the theme of the game and mood of the moment excellently, and the experience is made more immersive by the great voice acting and dialogue, delivering that high standard we’ve long come to expect from the series.
The game will take you between 10 to 20 hours to complete on your first play-through, depending on your pacing, but once you complete it there is still a lot to come back to, whether it be a second play-through, trophy chasing or to find and use all of the collectibles. There are also a number of difficult challenges and an arena battle room to test your skills in, but in order to play the arena mode you need to first complete the Challenge of Olympus, which is similar to the Challenge of the Gods from previous games. Additionally, there are over ten videos to watch, which include the making of God of War, level design, visual and special effects and music. They’re great to watch, even more so since they’re in HD, and will add a couple of hours more value to the game.
This is a game that has absolutely no shame (that rhymed, it was unintentional). There is explicit nudity on more than one occasion and extreme amounts of blood and gore that often reaches a level of brutality that few games dare even go near. This is definitely Kratos’ most brutal adventure yet, and all of it is tied into the story and his character. Speaking of, Kratos has changed in this game. While he is much more brutal and heartless, he has become much more calm and cold in his dialogue compared to the last game, even coming across as somewhat poetic on occasion. The heart of the matter is that you will really see a new side to Kratos in this game, and it’s great. Regarding the story, it’s a fantastic plot with awesome storytelling. However, the issue is that it can be really hard to follow if you don’t know your God of War and if you don’t have a good understanding of Freak Greek Mythology, because there are truly many epic moments that you will only really understand and appreciate if you have all of the necessary knowledge beforehand. As far as the story goes, that means having played the main God of War games, including Chains of Olympus on the PlayStation Portable, otherwise you’re bound to get a little confused along the way.
I sincerely apologise for the language I’m about to use, but there is no other way to say it. God of War III took the concept of pacing in gaming and shat all over it. Practically every single moment in the game is closely linked to an epic battle, and overall the game feels like a string of epic moments. In many other cases, this usually results in no one moment standing out, because everything is constantly at a high, but in the case of God of War III, the result is that there is never a dull moment when playing. There are so many memorable battles of epic proportions featured in the game, especially in the many boss fights, that it actually becomes hard to choose any one moment as the best. Sure there are still various puzzle and platforming sections featured in the game, to break up the action, but they’re easier and faster paced than in previous games, making them very entertaining and nice distractions. Overall, the pacing of this game really feels extremely fast, and hours can pass by in minutes while playing. Santa Monica Studios truly need to be congratulated, for creating a game that ultimately captures that sense of “epic” in gaming in nearly every possible way.
God of War III is bloody, beautiful and brilliant. A truly epic experience that will be remembered for years to come as one of the best action games ever made as well as the ultimate conclusion to one of the PlayStation’s greatest gaming series’ in history. This is, undoubtedly, the best game in the trilogy and one of the best games of the year, making it a sure contender for Game of the Year. Perhaps the worst thing about God of War III is finishing it, and realising that it’s the end of the trilogy, and it will be a long time until we see God of War again. Still, all considered, if there is any way for it to go down, God of War III is it, in all of its glory.