God of War 3 Review

Posted on April 7, 2010 by

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Chances are pretty good that you owned a Playstation 2 at some point. It is, after all, the best selling console in the history of the entire universe, having punted out well over 140 million units as of winter 2009. Chances are also very good, though not exactly equal, that having bought, owned and used your Playstation 2, you played games on it. So basically, at some point in your life, unless you’ve been living in an attic, you will probably have played what is without question one of the most popular series of games available, God of War.

The original GoW was seen as pretty revolutionary stuff, with it’s epic, over-arching mythical storyline, it’s dynamic free flowing combat, copious use of Quick-time events when they were still popular and sort of new, and the profuse amount of spectacularly bloody violence. I could spend a few thousands words on why the first game alone is one of the best video games ever made, but I wont, because I’m assuming that if you’re reading a review of the third (Technically fifth) game in a series, you either know what’s been going on in the previous instalments, or you’re stalking me.

Next up, Kratos does battle with the Stay-Puft Marshmallow man

God of War 3 is very much like GoW, GoW2, and GoW:CoO. In fact, I would go as far as to say that it is pretty much exactly like them. It follows the exact same formula as the previous games in the series, almost to a fault. Now don’t get me wrong here, dear reader, I’m not at all suggesting right off the bat that this might be a bad game, I’m just making a point that God of War 3 is so confident in itself that it hasn’t felt the need to even attempt to evolve past what it’s predecessors achieved. The controls are identical, man of the weapon combos are, too. The fixed camera remains the same, always directing your eye to the spectacular scenery on display. And Kratos is still a very angry man with no indoor voice.

The story, much as it is, remains largely the same as well- get revenge on the Gods of Olympus for the wrongs they committed against you. You then proceed to spend the next several hours or so doing just that, getting betrayed, tricked  and beaten a lot on the way, because Kratos is really, really stupid. As a character, he is incredibly basic- angry man shouts a lot and wants to kill things. He has some motivations- avenging the deaths of his wife and child by his own hand, atoning for his sins etc, but there’s very little to him for the audience to identify with, just enough that they’re on his side (as nasty as Kratos himself is, and there’s no denying that he isn’t, everybody else always seems to be much worse).

THIS! IS! PASTA!

Graphically, it looks fantastic. The characters are all beautifully rendered, as are all the environments, from the depths of the underworld to the halls of Olympus, every environment is packed with detail that you’ll probably completely fail to notice as you slaughter your way through everything that stands in your path. The soundtrack is adequate, in so far as that I never really noticed it. It does it’s job of setting the tone of the moment pretty well, but nothing about it ever really jumps out at you.

Movement and Combat are smooth and simple, the result of having three previous console entries to perfect how it all works no doubt, and it feels generally quite satisfying to fights the huge bosses, although I have to say that I’m getting really tired of Quick-time events in games now (Press X not to die) as they just feel overused, and quite get in the way of a perfectly good cutscene that you could be watching instead of frantically hammering the circle button.

Ya call that a knife?

‘But James, you throbbing volcano of charisma-‘ I hear you shout, ‘Are you trying to say you don’t like this game?’ and my answer is- No, not really. I loved the previous two entries immensely. The second game really pushed the boundaries of what you could do on the Playstation 2 in a technical sense and it’s a shame to say, but the third game feels really mediocre in comparison. It’s just more or the same- it’s doesn’t feel like a satisfying climax to an epic trilogy, it just feels like another sequel that’s okay but doesn’t try to do anything with the formula. It could just be that in the wake of games like Darksiders, that this whole genre is starting to feel overdone.

It’s not a bad game. It’s a good game, very well put together, and engaging enough for as long as it takes you to play to its end, but it just doesn’t feel special like the last two did. It’s also pretty brief as games go, and afterwards I found myself wanting to play something else rather than go for a second playthrough as I usually do, because I dreaded what I’d think of it if I went through it all again. I’d say rent it first unless you really are a die-hard GoW fan. With any luck, the fourth one in five years or so will re-kindle my faith in the ailing franchise, hopefully by doing something else.

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Posted in: Games