reviews\ Mar 6, 2010 at 7:00 pm

God of War 3 - PS3 - Review

Ok, so Kratos is pissed off and ready to maim, murder, and viciously slice ‘n dice, hack ‘n rend anything that gets in his way, but come on – does it have to be this visceral?

Apparently the SCEA dev team thought so, and the tone is set immediately in God of War III, the culmination of the trilogy of games based off a son of Zeus that is challenged by the Olympian gods, then used and abused, but left alive and rather rabid for revenge. GoW III is cringe-worthy, and if players are not grimacing at times during this game, maybe they should seek counseling.

GoW III chronicles the Ghost of Sparta as he begins his ascent of Mount Olympus with one goal in mind – to kill Zeus, his father. The first boss battle sets the tone for the rest of the game … Coming off the back of the titan Gaia, Kratos dives through the gigantic apparition of Poseidon and knocks the god from the watery form. Mano-a-mano, Kratos proceeds to pummel, torment, torture, kick, slam, and generally pound the life and flesh from Poseidon. Most of the action is seen through Poseidon’s eyes – until Kratos, at the prompting of game to hit R3 and L3, pokes out Poseidon’s eyes. It is violent and it is brutal … and it is merely the precursor for what is to follow.

Systematically, Kratos works through the gods, and others from the pantheon of classical Greek characters, getting a bit of an assist from Athena, while finding out what it will take to knock Zeus off his malevolent and slightly power-psychotic throne atop Olympus. Kratos is not a nice guy, but the more the tale unfolds, the more it becomes apparent that the time of the gods is over and mankind needs to take its fate in its own hands.

The third installment in this trilogy is the more graphically violent of the set, and the power of the PS3 is shown off. At times the camera zooms in close as Kratos is squeezing between rock walls and that’s when the attention to detail is very apparent. The shading on the armor, the reflection of the light – it all plays into a game that is visually stunning.

Yes, watching Kratos’ muscles strain as he rips the head off a foe, or seeing the heated steam snort out of the nostrils of a minotaur as Kratos pries the jaws apart to deliver a killing blow is a bit over the top, but the animations and effects are, nonetheless, remarkable.

Anyone who has played the previous iterations knows how the final death blow sequences plays out: Kratos pummels a foe until an illuminated O appears above the target’s head, which means it’s time to match the hotkeys for the coup de grace. The dev team moved the symbols to the sides of the screen, corresponding, roughly, with the position on the controller, so that players won’t have to refer to the controller, but can keep eyes on the action and hit the hot buttons on the sides indicated. Of course, the easier the difficulty level, the more time there is to perform the action.

In many regards, the game follows the general gameplay elements endemic to the franchise right down the line. There are the altars for the mana and health regeneration, plus red orbs to gather from fallen foes or altars that can be used to upgrade the weapons (which Kratos collects as he starts to work through the levels). The game also has puzzles that involve tripping levers or moving objects around inside the levels. This is all pretty standard stuff for the game.

But this is a game that is not for younger players. It is very much adult material.

Environments obviously play a big role in this final adventure, and the vistas are impressive. For those that played the first GoW title and remember seeing the sprawl of Athens with Ares in the background, and thought “Good lord – that’s impressive!” – well, GoW III outdoes that. In fact, GoW III outdoes both of the first two in just about every way, from the scale of the game, to the effects, to voice acting and through the cut scenes.

A moment to slow down and catch your breath? That’s what the cut scenes are for; the rest of the time has Kratos on a mad, destructive course through the world and the gods are throwing everything they can think of to stop him.

Yes, there are trophies to collect and there are collectibles scattered throughout the environments. In the end, though, the game is a high-speed, chaotic, vengeance-filled ride that is certainly memorable and may well be one of the most graphically violent games of the year.

Review Scoring Details for God of War III

Gameplay: 9
The game does provide some side trips, but is generally quite linear and there is no way to rotate the camera – which can be a touch irritating when trying to see around the environment without actually moving. It would have been nice to zoom in closer at times to see objects up close. The camera, though, does get close enough to show the dismemberment of enemies.

Graphics: 9
There are a few times when a bit more illumination would be great to help find the way around in an environment, but generally speaking, the environments, animation and effects are superb. There is some fluctuation in the way Kratos looks at times, but this is nit-picking.

Sound: 8.5
The voice acting is very well done and the musical score is solid

Difficulty: Medium/Hard

Concept: 9.5
There is no tripping over the controls – GoW III puts players into the thick of the action, with enough prompts along the way to help with a control element. As the conclusion of a series of violence, this was well-realized, and demonstrates the power of the PS3.

Overall: 9
This is a great game that may be over the top in terms of the violence, but it is rated M (Mature) for a reason. For fans of the God of War series, this is a fitting conclusion that sets a standard by which other hack ‘n slash titles will be judged moving forward. The chaos of violence in video games may just have been defined.


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