Thursday, March 18, 2010

Vengeance Ends Here... The God of War III Review

Please note - This review and the videos being shown may contain spoilers, so read and watch at your own risk if you have not beaten the game yet.

The God of War franchise has been unrivaled in terms of pushing the action genre and the Playstation consoles to their limits with amazing graphics, an epic sense of scale, memorable battles against foes that are way bigger than Kratos, the Ghost of Sparta, and one of the best theatrical scores in the gaming business. God of War III has been a long time coming for those that wanted to finish what Kratos had started especially after the ending of the last game. Now that the epic trilogy comes into an end, it seemed be Sony Santa Monica are always willing to outdo themselves as it truly shows in this finale to Kratos's quest for vengeance. God of War III not only to pushes the envelope of the Playstation 3 and the action genre, it also pushes the envelope for gaming in general being a true masterpiece. As the first two games were among the my personal favorites, this sequel is unlike anything else I have played in recent years in terms of delivering memorable moment after another.

Kratos has been through a lot to set the stage for the finale of his quest for vengeance. God of War III starts off after the second game ended with the Ghost of Sparta on Gaia as they along with the rest of the titans set off to climb up Mount Olympus to take on Zeus and the rest of the Gods. The story is as simple as it gets when the primary goal to kill Zeus and anything else that stands in Kratos's way. Sure, the plot will take you on various twists and turns such as making a return trip to the underworld one last time to get rid of Hades once and for all, the titans backstabbing you because they believe that he was on their side, and of course Zeus being the leader of the Gods being his own crazy business. As expected like the first two games, God of War III starts off with a bang with arguably the best opening sequence in gaming of as late fighting Poseidon with Gaia on your side. If you thought the fun stops after the beginning, think again as the game continues to pound in an epic and insane scene one over another at a beautiful pace.

The core formula remains intact in God of War III as well as in the past. The combat is still very satisfying and even improved such as having more useful weapons at your disposal besides Kratos's signature blades. The blades are still the go to weapon in most situations, but the other weapons like the Cestus, Claws of Hades, and Nemesis Whip are great additions adding their own fun flavor into the combat. Magic once again returns as well as each weapon contains its own magic spell such as the Army of Sparta. The item meter is also another significant element to the combat with the bow, Helios's head, and Hermes's boots as they are more used to transverse through the environment rather than combat even though they have their uses. Another element making a return is the rage meter, now called the Rage of Sparta, where Kratos goes crazy for a limited time with the Sword of Olympus. While the combat is at its best for the franchise, everything else also remains the same in this entry from the platforming retaining its same frustrations such as jumps unregistering when needed where they are probably mistimed even though the grappling sections are still fun to navigate. The new Icarus flying sections are also enjoyable when dodging obstacles. Of course like in every God of War game, there are also puzzles to solve, which there are plenty here, but some of them could of done better. Plus, there is the traditional sex mini-game as well since that has been a mainstay since the franchise started. All of this is designed in a clever and beautiful way especially how the context sensitive sequences are played out when the buttons to perform the activities are displayed similarly to the PS3 controller on the screen making you watch the scene at its full glory rather than trying to look for the button to press.

The most shining point of the gameplay obviously comes in the form of the multiple boss battles Kratos deals with throughout the game, but since this is God of War III, these boss battles are pushed another level, perhaps a level unreached by others because this game sets a new standard for they are done. These boss battles make a true testament of the game's scale and amazing graphics in their multiple stages. This is especially the case when fighting Poseidon at the beginning of the game as well as trying to topple down the titan Cronos later on. They are truly unmatched compared to everything else out there as Sony Santa Monica has done a masterful job delivering the promise on these boss battles being better than ever. That same sense of satisfaction once Kratos takes them out by the now infamous context-sensitive sequences are among some of the best scenes in gaming today. It makes you ask the question of how they are able to make all of this happen, but they did making the whole package something special. There are lots of other clever design decisions they have made throughout the game that proved to be memorable from first person beatdowns, true head to head battles, and more. Even though God of War III is long as the previous two games, which is about eight to ten hours, it is still an experience unlike no other that the franchise has always delivered from beginning to end. After the game is over, there are the challenges and combat arena to mess around with as well as harder difficulties if you want a challenge, even though the default difficulty is not that bad.

Graphically, God of War III feels like its own beast as it is arguably the best looking game of this current console generation so far. The character models are unlike anything I have seen in other games, especially Kratos himself looking too ridiculous at times because he just looks too good in action and when being covered up in blood. The sense of scale is also unmatched compared to everything else out there today as it is too insane how the developers were able to make it happen from all those camera angles from the Poseidon fight, Cronos being as huge as he is intended to be while still being to see yourself fight from a far camera distance, and the environments in general. I did not have much issues with the free camera during the game other making some jumps frustrating, but that is something minor. The framerate runs at a clear 60 frames per second in certain cases as it tries its best to stay slightly below that number throughout the game especially in crazy situations. The lighting also feels like done by the best of the business as well. Of course, the blood is unlike any other in this new installment pushing the gore to its limits since it is still a mature rated game, but at least it does not as overused as other games. David Jaffe's infamous painting quote definitely seems like a true statement especially how God of War III came out to look like.

The sound quality also remains unmatched compared to the rest of the market in God of War III. The theatrical soundtrack is once again top notch with such epic orchestral tunes as well as keeping the signature theme in a different way. The voice acting in addition is one of the best in the gaming business as everyone played their roles right once again. Kratos is still as angry as he was since he first started his quest as well as the voice actors of Zeus, Gaia, and Athena returned to their roles. It is the little things and the sound effects though that make it truly special even from the swiping of the blades, enemies slamming the ground, and parts getting ripped apart.

Even though 2010 is off to a great start in terms of great games coming out week after week, God of War III is leagues above everything else that is out now including the Japanese action games, and Dante's Inferno. Not only it pushes the Playstation 3 to its limits with its amazing graphics and sound, it sets a new standard for gaming for the coming years. There is no other experience like this in this current generation of consoles being unmatched compared to the rest of the competition. The combat is at the franchise's best, it redefines scale to a whole new direction, and basically this is a blockbuster movie done right delivering epic moments every hour throughout the game until its conclusion. Sure, it is purely perfect as a game, but you won't find anything better on the store shelf now with God of War III. It is truly a epic masterpiece from beginning to end.

Score = 10/10

  • Improved and refined combat to become the best of the franchise
  • Sense of scale is unlike any other
  • Memorable moments at every hour that is paced beautifully from beginning to end
  • Arguably the best graphics in this current console generation
  • Sound quality is the best of the business today from the theatrical soundtrack and the voice acting.
  • Platforming can be frustrating at times (probably my mistiming of jumps usually), but it is fairly minor.
  • Don't expect a long campaign like the last two games (8-10 hours long), but the length is perfect for a game like this.

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