The gaming industry held a long breath when Sony showed off the first game play footage of God of War 3 at least years E3. Almost one year later, the gaming public now has the final build in its hands. Does the game reach the severely high expectations that it had? Or does this final game in the Greek trilogy sizzle out?
To rest any worries, let me start off by saying that God of War 3 is an excellent game. Cinematic adventure standards that were once set by Uncharted 2 and Mass Effect 2 have now been destroyed thanks to this game. The graphics are the very best in console gaming. The story is a straightforward vengeance tale that even Mel Gibson would love. And the game play is as addictive as ever. Pressing square, square, triangle never felt so good.
If you have played God of War and God of War 2, then you know what story is being told in the third because the game starts where the second game ended. If you never played a God of War game, well then I will try to sum the story up. A great Spartan warrior, Kratos, asked the God of War, Aries, to protect him on the battlefield. In return for this protection, Kratos gave his soul to Aries. This made Kratos a very powerful warrior, but it also rendered him blood drunk. In the heat of battle, Kratos murders his wife and child accidently because of his bloodthirsty mentality that Aries set upon him. With the help of the Goddess Athena, Kratos, who is fueled by revenge, sets to kill Aries for what he made Kratos do. Kratos does kill Aries, and Kratos now becomes the new God of War. Zeus, who is the God of all Gods, is not pleased with these turn of events. Zeus then betrays Kratos and strips him of his title and punishes him with a mortal life. As you can imagine, Kratos is not happy with Zeus and is hell-bent on killing him as well as the entire cast of Olympian Gods. The third installment of the franchise starts off with Kratos literally climbing up Mt. Olympus to kill all remaining Gods. For fear of spoiling anything else in the third game, I will stop here and just say that God of War 3’s story ends this trilogy in an epic manner.
Santa Monica Studios, the developers of the game, must have said to themselves, “If it isn’t broke, do not fix it.” This is the mentality they must have taken towards the game play. This is not a bad thing however. The God of War game play is still the same from the past two iterations, which is great because God of War has some of the smoothest fighting in games. It is still square for a light attack, and triangle for a heavy attack. It is still the tried and true game play that fans of the serious have come to expect. This does not mean that Santa Monica did not fine tune other aspects of game play though. In previous God of War games, Kratos’ special abilities, such as his bow, the medusa head, etc, were tied to a meter, meaning the player can only use such abilities until the meter runs out. In God of War 3, Kratos’ special abilities are still tied to the meter, but the meter regenerates every one second. This enables the player to actually use Kratos’ bow and be effective with it. Santa Monica also linked Kratos’ magic with his weapons. In past iterations of the game, Kratos had four different weapons and four different magic abilities. In God of War 3, Kratos has four different weapons but each weapon comes attached with a specific magic ability. This helps smooth out the game play when in motion so the player does not have to consistently worry about what weapon/magic they have selected in the moment. Santa Monica have also implemented additional weapons into Kratos’ hands that are fun and helpful to use. It is difficult to explain what these new weapons are because they are tied into story characters who the player will meet along the path to Zeus, but the additional weapons are a great addition to the game.
Aside from story and game play being top-notch, the graphics alone justify playing this game. Remember Disney’s Wall-E? Remember the first twenty minutes of the movie where Wall-E is alone on a desolate Earth and the entire sequence looks eerily real? The majority of the ten hour playthrough of God of War 3 will bring that same feeling. Gamers hear all the time that “generic game X” has superb graphics, or that “other game Y” has terrific lighting effects. God of War 3’s graphics are the best on any console to date. Players can actually see Kratos’ pores when playing; it is that detailed. Boulder walls look wet and hard, Kratos’ fire-blades give off impressive lighting, and the water effects in the game are marvelous. There were many scenes in the game where I had to stop playing in just drink it all in; one scene at the very end of the game almost made my eyes hurt because of how sharp and realistic it looked. To think that this is Santa Monica’s first Playstation 3 game and it sets the bar for visual standards in the industry, while other developers have had three or four games out this generation that come nowhere near hitting this bar. That says a lot of Santa Monica. There are however a handful of scenes that do not hold that visual prowess. Granted, even the “weaker” looking scenes in God of War 3 are better looking than 90% of what is out on the market today. But it would have been nice if the game held that Pixar/Disney level of graphics through its entirety.
If you own a Playstation 3, you owe it to yourself to play this game. It will be nominated for game of the year, and right now, I do not know what other game that can beat out God of War 3.