The game many are calling “Epic” is finally here. God of War III is the last piece to the trilogy featuring ex-Spartan Kratos against… everyone else. Greek Gods and Titans will have to face his Blades of Exile bounded by chains to his arms and dripping with blood. The opening cinematics preview flashbacks of Kratos’ previous adventures in God of War I and II. The suffering he’s gone through, the chaos he has caused but most importantly the revenge he seeks is what keeps this warrior alive. Given the name Ghost of Sparta and eventually dethroning Ares as the new God of War has not been a peaceful journey for Kratos. You’ll battle Titans, go face to face with Greek Gods with plenty of blood to go around. God of War III, developed by Santa Monica Studios concludes the trilogy with our hero Kratos, the new God of War, seeking what he fights for most, vengeance! Will he (and Santa Monica Studios) earn the term, Epic?
Where did we leave off and where we’re heading. Back in 2005’s God of War II, Kratos was cast down to Hades by the King of the Gods, Zeus himself. So, without burning a sweat guess who he’s after in God of War III. Yup, Zeus. The story begins with Kratos riding the back of Gaia, Mother of the Gods, as they both ascend to the top of Mount Olympus. But if it was that easy there wouldn’t be a game would there. With the help of Zeus’s lightning bolt and Gaia, you descent down to Hades where you encounter the third brother of Zeus and Poseidon, Hades, God of the Netherworld. By far, one the coolest battles you’ll encounter is with the Hades. Tearing him apart, literally and exposing his innards are all you’ll experience in your first major battle.
Hack-N-Slash… again. Attacking is fairly simple in most hack-n-slash titles. It mostly consists of pressing the light and strong attacks for hit combos, or button mashing. After you defeat the enemies, you’ll gain red orbs that can be used to level up your weapons. Anyone else notice the “urinating” sounds as you empty your red orb pool? Green orbs fill up your health bar and Blue orbs fill up your magic bar. In GOWIII, you’re equipped with a third bar from the beginning which is your item meter. When you use items such as the Bow of Apollo, this meter drains but quickly regenerates.
Load screens? No more. One of the advantages of God of War III is playing on a blu-ray disc. Because of this, there is no required installation and impressively no noticeable load screens. I’m not sure how they pulled this off, but the cut-scenes into the gameplay are seamless. As a matter of fact, only the gameplay graphics let me know it was time to pick up the controller and play as Kratos and put down the popcorn from the movie-like sequence that preceded. One thing I did notice was the fan on PS3. At some points of the game, I noticed the PS3 fan kick off and continue to spin until a less detailed scenario took place. May be a coincidence, but it’s happened minutes after turning on the PS3 and God of War III.
To Be Concluded… The trilogy comes to a conclusion in this latest installment, God of War III. But for those who plan on picking up the game and a PS3 just to enjoy the fantastic graphics and storyline, you’ll be missing two important things. God of War I and God of War II. No you won’t be completely lost, but to better understand the story, you may want to pick up the God of War Collection for the PS3 which bundles GoW I and II on one blu-ray disc. Everything from Kratos’ dark past, how he got those scars on his abdomen and his hatred towards Zeus are all explained and sets the scenario with a clearer path to GoW 3. I found that many examples of the story were continued and referred to Kratos’ past but while it’s not mandatory to know all that happened previously, it’s like watching The Godfather III without watching the first two. Or like Chewbacca being on Endor… it does not make sense!
Scaled to Fit. One thing you’ll notice immediately is the scale of God of War III. The technology used to produce such an amazing quality game is well noticed and breaks the mold for video games. The environments and characters that surround Kratos are massive. Up to 200 times the size of Kratos, you’ll run into huge slow moving Titans and cascading mountains all detailed and did I mention massive. Most scenes easily fit the entire screen and need to be panned back to appropriately show Kratos in perspective. One of the first characters you’ll remember from the previous God of War series is the Titan Gaia. Her build is made up of wood, trees, and stone and at one point you’ll battle on her back and arm. The highlight that exhibits the PlayStation 3′ power (which has been reported running at only 50% of the PS3’s potential) is Cronos. You remember him from God of War I right? He carried Pandora’s temple on his back through the desert. This time you interact and eventually battle the gigantic Titan. You don’t even measure up to his fingernail. Panning out during some scenes, you’ll be able to play a tiny Kratos from afar resembling an ant from a one story building.
A touch of QTE. This year, 2010 has brought us many games that utilize QTE. Heavy Rain was Heavy on it. And Dante’s Inferno filled up hell with timed buttons. In GOWIII, they changed up the QTE’s a bit. Now, each button is shown on the appropriate part of the screen. For example, the square button is shown on the left, triangle towards the top etc. This makes the task for newcomers a bit easier to figure out but for the veterans of the series you’ll find this change a bit of an inconvenience since now you have to look at four sides of the screen instead of one dedicated area (i.e. right corner)
Characters of Note. Besides the recurrence of Zeus, Athena, Cronos and Gaia, you’ll encounter other Olympic gods and Titans you learned about in class. To start, the Greek God of the Sea, Poseidon. Hermes, great Messenger of the Gods. Hercules, son of Zeus and Krato’s half brother. The goddess of Love, Aphrodite is one you won’t forget. Her role in GOWIII is purely a sex mini-game that Krato’s has to “please” her. For those who played the GOW III Demo, Helios, Greek god of Sun rides his chariot while trying to blind you during his battle.
Epic Sound joins Epic Game. The sounds of God of War III shall not go unnoticed. The score played in the background during normal gameplay or the dramatic escalating symphonic sounds to build up a boss battle all add to the authenticity. The voice acting is also incredible and all portrayed perfectly. Michael Clarke Duncan (Atlas), T.J. Carson (Kratos) and Linda Hunt (Gaia/Narrator) all lend their voices to name a few.
– top notch graphics
– boss battles
– dramatic sounds
– smooth gameplay
– fixed camera angles
– QTE button placement
Final Thought: Simply put, God of War III is one of the most amazing games I have ever played and is a must play. Very few games have lived up to the hype and GOW 3 surpassed them. All great things must come to an end, and this trilogy is no different. For now. The story of Kratos, God killer, was magnificent with it’s mind-blowing graphics, intriguing storyline and smooth gameplay that I’m claiming this PS3 title, God of War III, Game of The Year 2010. Lucky for other consoles, this Olympic Masterpiece is exclusive to the PlayStation 3. To sum it all up, Epic!