God of War III: review

  • Format: PS3
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: Sony
  • Developer: Santa Monica Studio
  • Site: www.godofwar.com

In case your internet’s been cut off for the past month and you hadn’t noticed, there’s a veritable army of fanboys foaming at the mouth every time God of War III receives a score lower than 11/10. Can this be put down to blind love for big name format exclusives, or do we really have something special here?

So far as God of War goes, it’s business as usual here; an ultraviolent roaming beat ’em up with occasional puzzles and lots of growling from your avatar Kratos. Although the game ostensibly makes use of Greek mythology, it actually has little in common with the relevant legends bar place and character names. In fact if we’re going to be picky, we might as well point out that the devs have confused Heracles with the Roman equivalent Hercules…

Still, the twists and turns that the story takes would fit well in amongst the various adventures of the ancient Greek pantheon. Unfortunately the dialogue is hammier than a field full of pigs, with acting to match; it has more in common with Batman: The Brave And The Bold than anything else. It’s a thrilling narrative ride nonetheless, mainly thanks to the sweeping majesty of the set pieces and the intricate detail of each new locale.

Yes, the game looks good. Oh, who are we kidding? The graphics are magnificent. God of War III can be placed alongside Killzone 2, Uncharted 2, and Heavy Rain as evidence of the fact that the PS3 is finally proving itself to be a graphical powerhouse (though it is slightly worrying that all four games are published by Sony themselves). The quality of the graphics has an undeniable effect on the gameplay here, as it adds to the overall epic feel of the game – which was clearly important to Santa Monica Studio.

"No, they're not very practical, but they keep my hands ever so warm."

Tear off the game’s fluttering eyelashes, and you’ll find the familiar formula of ‘hammer the crap out of everything you come across until the next puzzle’. Combat is, thankfully, very well handled. There are a total of four weapons to be had, and they all handle surprisingly differently. Upgrade them with the ‘experience orbs’ from broken scenery and fallen enemies to unlock increased damage and new combos. You’ll soon find a favourite, and concentrate on upgrading that fully first. You can get through sporadic chunks of the game by button bashing – particularly in the first two thirds of the game – but try that against the tougher enemies, and you’ll get flattened.

At times, the game positively wallows in genre clichés. You’ll often find yourself trapped in a tiny arena, and released when you’ve killed however many enemies the game decides to throw at you; the further you progress, the more often you’ll find the game spams mini – bosses to slow your progress; there’s sometimes a brief platforming section in a token effort at variety; and of course, the end game boss is a multi – stage affair. God of War III does this better than any of its contemporaries however, and shows that if you insist on doing these things, you can at least put some effort in.

If ‘epic’ is one word intended to be associated with this game, then ‘brutal’ is certainly another. To prepare you for this, it is immediately apparent that Kratos looks, acts, and speaks like a football hooligan. This unintentional image is strengthened further, amusingly, by the fact that it looks like he’s painted his favourite team’s colours across his body. Blood will be flying everywhere from start to finish. This is to the game’s detriment during one flying section; if you make a mistake and smash into an obstacle, gallons of the stuff is thrown across the screen. Yes, it’s likely to get fourteen year old boys excited, but it also means that by the time the blood has cleared, you’ve already hit the next obstacle which you couldn’t see due to all the blood, so more blood flies which obscures the next obstacle, and so on and so forth.

What the blood and gore usually means is ripping apart torsos, ripping off heads, ripping out eyes, ripping off horns, and just generally more ripping than a two year old with your favourite magazine. The game ensures that you see the goriest moments up close, and slowly. Having seen the ending, we presume that these moments are meant to shock (and guarantee that adult certification, which will make teenage boys want it more than ever). They are however quite frankly hilarious.

Speaking of the ending, it’s a suitably epic – and semi – interactive – affair. We’ll give nothing away of course, but we will say that we found it to be a strange mix of stunningly impressive elements, and cringe inducingly bad ones. We should also warn you that if you’re expecting to replay the game on a higher difficulty with all your weapons and abilities intact – it ain’t gonna happen.

"...because he had no BODY to go with! Oh don't be like that, it's a classic!"

There is replay value to be had though, besides the usual option of a ridiculously hard unlockable difficulty. Finish the game to unlock the ‘Challenge of Olympus’, a series of arena challenges with conditions such as ‘get turned to stone ten times without dying’. If you replay the main game on the same difficulty then you can use any hidden ‘godly artefacts’ that you found the first time around, which give bonuses such as reduced damage or infinite magic (basically, use of your most powerful attack). Completing the game also unlocks an alternate version of Kratos which… well, you’ll see.

If you’re not a fan of the genre, this won’t convert you. Established God of War fans will fall in love with this as soon as the stylised intro begins to play – and anybody with even a passing interest in roaming beat ’em ups will find themselves sucked in immediately, and love every minute of it. As Kratos would say: “Rrrrrrrrraaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrggggghhhhhh!!!”


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Written by Luke K

Luke plays lots of videogames, now and again stopping to write about them. He's the editor in chief at Critical Gamer, which fools him into thinking his life has some kind of value. Chances are, if you pick up a copy of the latest Official PlayStation Magazine or GamesMaster, you'll find something he's written in there. Luke doesn't have a short temper. If you suggest otherwise, he will punch you in the face.

6 comments

  1. half_empty80 /

    I will surely end up getting this, since I played the first two games and thought they were great. My only issue is that GOWIII appears to inherit the bad points and hang ups of the last gen appearances. In the demo for example, riding the harpies and flying up that vent were terrible. Why are we playing crappy sections like that in the HD era?

    • Joe D /

      While some of the characters in GOWIII looks a little weird, the demo was nowhere near the graphics of the final game. I thought the same thing, but the final product looks significantly better.

  2. Kratos. is. AWESOME.

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