It has been a long time coming, but Kratos is finally going to get his revenge. God of War III is probably the most hyped and anticipated game set to be released this year and for good reason. The series which has now spanned three consoles is one of the most finely tuned and visceral action games on the market. Fans have been clamoring for the closing act for quite some time now after its announcement, and finally we get to see how it all ends. There are a lot of words to describe God of War III but the one that best fits, and one I will be using throughout this review is simply, epic.
When we left Kratos last he was towering up Mt. Olympus on the back of the Titan Gaia. We all knew this was the final push on his quest to take revenge on the man who stripped him of his God-status as well as you know, murdering him. It was a cliffhanger in the vein of Empire Strikes Back and also exactly where the third game begins. From the minute you press start the game thrusts you back into the action with a fantastic opening sequence that shows the might Titans as they scale up Mt. Olympus. The camera pans in to show Kratos hitching a ride on Gaia and then you take over.
The sense of scale is immense. Most of the opening sequence is actually fought on the massive Titan and the development team has done an outstanding job of creating a massive sense of scale. Players will feel right at home with the controls as they remain largely untouched from the previous game, but don’t expect to have access to a ton of powers in the beginning because, as always, they will get stripped away shortly after you begin your journey.
This opens the doors to the brand new mechanics and actions available to Kratos for the third game. Personally I found these new devices and abilities to be the best in the series. When you first obtain your new blades you gain access to a move that allows you to grapple into enemies to stay in the action. By holding down the L1 button and tapping circle you can launch yourself into a crowd, or in some cases keep enemies from escaping the clutches of your beat down. As you progress and unlock more moves and items the game slowly teaches you how each one functions. By the end of the game you have a pretty ample move set, and are really comfortable at using each one. This is brilliant game design on the part of the studio at Santa Monica.
The best part is that all of the moves and powers are not only imperative to the gameplay, but also extremely satisfying to use. For instance if you played the demo you know that defeating Helios gives you access to his head and thus the power of the sun. Well this becomes a method of blinding enemies as well as uncovering hidden items throughout the game. It is also required to defeat some enemies as are most of the weapons and attacks in the game. This slowly teaches you how each one works in combat scenarios, and they all come into play during various boss encounters as well as puzzles, speaking of which this outing definitely focuses more on combat than puzzle-solving.
Throughout your journey through the game you will run into a collection of puzzles that do a nice job of breaking up the gameplay. In fact I enjoyed the simplicity of some while appreciating the complexity of others outside of one in particular. I literally was shocked to see such a poor puzzle element thrown into an otherwise flawless pacing. The puzzle takes you out of the game, feels tacked on, and really is the one sore spot in an otherwise perfectly paced game. That is the glory of God of War III, every time you turn around the game is throwing something new and exciting at you. Never once will you stop and think what you are doing is boring. Every encounter feels fresh, every area feels unique, and the overall experience is so well done multiple playthroughs are easily a given.
It is rare when a game compels you to immediately jump back into it upon completion. God of War III was one of those as I am just about ready to start my third jaunt through the game less than five days after receiving it. It is simply that much fun to play through. It is also helped by the treasures you collect throughout the game that can alter the mechanics of the experience. For instance one makes you feel powerful as all attacks do more damage, while another one challenges players by slowly draining their health, while never fully depleting it. Of course there are the various items to collect to increase health, magic, and special meters which are hidden just well enough that anyone can find them with a little dedication. There are also a host of behind-the-scenes videos to view after beating the game as well as a challenge mode and of course an arena combat mode and some costumes to unlock. The game is packed with some nice extras, but the experience itself is more than worth the price of admission.
Speaking of epic the visuals in the game are some of the best I have seen to date. Each area delivers a visual punch that is likely to floor you every step of the way. The sheer sense of scale represented in areas like the Caverns and the opening as you climb up the side of Mt. Olympus are simply breathtaking. The texture and animation work is some of the best I have ever seen. Watching Kratos become slowly covered in blood definitely adds to the realism, and some of the death sequences are so grotesque and lifelike they are almost scary. The sound equally compliments the package with both outstanding voice over work and an amazing score. The music continues the orchestral tone with some epic tracks that really set the mood, while the voice work is truly exceptional. T.C. Carter returns as Kratos and delivers as usual, but newcomers such as Rip Torn and Malcolm McDowell add some excellent flair to the cast.
God of War III is an immaculate addition to the PS3 library and once again proof that Sony is committed to creating the best first-party exclusives on the market. There is not much I can criticize about the game and when I do it is mostly nitpicking. The problem with reviewing a game like this is wanting to describe all the epic moments I experienced, but again that would ruin the experience for others, and this is one experience you simply need to see for yourself. If you like action games, are a fan of God of War, or just love playing genre-defining games you have to own God of War III. It will stand out as the perfect end to one of the best action series in a long time. If it truly is the end-
Review copy provided by publisher.