The combat is the heart and soul of the God of War franchise and God of War III doesn’t disappoint. Essentially, the combat system plays and feels like everything you’ve done in the other titles of the franchise. You’ll slash away at your opponents before finishing them off in a brutal and savage fashion, but that’s the most satisfying part of the game — the QTE death sequences. Hitting the face-buttons in proper order will reveal deaths that are more brutal than anything you’ve ever witnessed in any game before. Tearing the eye out of Cyclops, cracking the spine of a Siren, or impaling a snake/lion/goat chimera, whatever you are killing, you’ll kill it with plenty of style and pure unadulterated carnage. For the first time ever you’ll be able to experience the fear and terror of being killed by Kratos firsthand. At certain points of the game, the camera will switch to a first-person viewpoint and allow you to watch Kratos kill the enemy from their frame of reference. You’ll feel every punch and see the blood-lust in Kratos’ eyes as he pummels the life out of whoever is in his grasp. Unfortunately, this optique is only used twice in the title.
The combat and battling apex comes during the boss battles. Whether you are battling a god or a Titan, these battles aren’t only remarkable on a technical scale; they are epic battles to partake in — though some are better than others. Each god or Titan will have a weakness you must exploit in order to successfully defeat them, but to discover the weakness will take some time. A couple of the battles with the gods are weak and almost feel unnecessary, but then there are some that will have you failing numerous times due to the raw power the boss entails. How to defeat a boss is easy to figure out and is usually tied to having the player use a certain weapon or magic attack. Every single battle has a miraculous final sequence and it’ll live you feeling quite satisfied to see that person die at your hands after a long, bloody battle.
Aside from three new main weapons, you’ll also run across three new side-weapons in the form of Apollo’s Bow, Hermes’ Boots, and Helios’ Head. Each of these will be needed to solve minor puzzles so you can progress through the game and can also be used to a great extent in battle — minus the boots of Hermes. Apollo’s Bow will shoot an arrow consumed by fire that will eliminate weaker foes with relative ease and also burn down dried up shrubbery that may hinder your progress to greater goals. The Hermes’ Boots will allow you to scale walls, but this technique can only be used in pre-designated locations, so you won’t be running along walls ala Ninja Gaiden style. As far as battle strength goes, they seem and feel to be utterly useless and lackluster. The head of Helios isn’t only a highpoint in the game to receive; it’s also a very useful tool to have with you. Utilizing the power of the sun via Helios’ head, you’ll be able to light dark caverns, shine it on secret doorways, and blind your foes with a ‘Solar Flare’ technique — just like from Dragonball Z.
With useful — for the most part — side weapons and newer, better main weapons, the combat may not be any deeper than it was in previous incarnations, but these new inclusions make the combat system feel a little more in-depth and it allows you to experiment with several options of combat play. If you want to blind your opponents and then shoot a barrage of arrows before unleashing devastation with a main weapon, you can. What you won’t find in God of War III’s combat system and anything truly different from the past games, though. It feels, plays, and acts identically to the previous titles. It’s the same ol’ God War and it’s both a con and pro this time around. The old saying: “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it” fits in place here. While everything will feel very familiar for series veterans, you’ll notice that the game has only evolved slightly in the gameplay and combat department. You can also attack with all three main weapons by quickly switching between them in an onslaught of attacks that will have Kratos using every weapon once and switching to the next weapon. This allows for some unique combos.
You’ll encounter some very minor puzzles that will take just a matter of seconds to solve. None of them are taxing, which is a plus since it keeps the game moving along at a nice brisk pacing. This is another example of the series not moving forward much and staying the same as it was before. It’s not a knock on the game because the true appeal of the series is the action and not the puzzle solving. The puzzles the game does feature are nicely composed and offer some intricate gameplay mechanics. The most intriguing puzzle stems from fairly late in the game. You’ll need to use the vantage point of a statue that will alter the perception of the environment you are in. This will allow for you to create paths to access otherwise unattainable locations. What you’ll have to do is fill cauldrons with water, which will release bridges, but, thanks to the new view, it’ll appear to fill in gaps and make crossing the threshold possible. It may have been done before in previous titles, but it’s refreshing to see this kind of puzzle in an intense action-packed game like God of War III.
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