Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Throwback Review: God of War III

Covered in the white ashes of his slaughtered family, Kratos is back for his forth blood bath in God of War III. The 4 part saga is coming to an epic close, but is this epic worth the price of admission? Santa Monica Studios sure hopes so. The stakes have been raised, but is it to the height of the expectations that have surrounded God of War 3 for the past 3 years? You may just have to follow Kratos up Mount Olympus to find out.

The boost in presentation will be the most significant change that is noticed in the new God of War III. The presentation is nothing short of gripping. Within the first fifteen minutes of game play you get a sense of what type of scale this battle is waged on. As you make your assent up Mount Olympus everything carries its weight well. The climb is grueling. Gyia provides an interesting vessel as you make your way around her rocky exterior to fight off numerous combatants. Where God of War 3 really sets the tone is with the first god that you face. Epic only begins to explain the size and type of this battle. This feeling is not only consistent throughout the game, but only grows the deeper into the playing experience you get.

While there was some worry that God of War III would only be playable in 720p I am happy to say that statement is not true. The game can be viewed on a glorious 1080i scale. That is truly where the beauty of this game lies. It was stated that God of War III only used 50% of the PS3’s power, and I can say without question that this is graphically the most beautiful game I have seen. Kratos has never looked more defined, every detail has been looked over with a fine comb to make sure that the player feels deeply entrenched with the character. The set pieces are also beautiful, but during some of the transitional phases from one set piece to the next I felt like I was looking at subpar texturing to the point I was having PS2 flashbacks.

The Sound FX in God of War III are spot on. The cracking of bones, ripping of flesh, and scream of burning victims is nothing short of authentic. The FX accompanied by the orchestral backdrops during large scale battle makes you feel like you are in the center of a large budget motion picture. The voice acting is over the top, which in this genre can be expected.   

As much of a cliché the line, “if it’s not broke don’t fix it” is, there is really no other way to describe it. Instead of looking to take other routes with the fighting system or completely trying to overhaul it Santa Monica Studios took what they had and shaped it to be an even smoother fighting/action experience. Now different magic is linked to the different weapons, making for a more fluid transition between using the two. A gripe I have is the difference in the weapons. The core weapons come off as being almost identical to the “Blades of Exile”. They have very little aesthetic difference and play very similar to one another. The most notable difference of course is the Cestus (two lion heads). A nice thing about the weapons is the ability to change them “on the fly”. In the midst of battle you can change from on blade to the next seamlessly, creating a symphony of blood in which you are the conductor.

Kratos also has learned a few new tricks. The addition of being able to pick up an enemy and barrel through dozens of others is a gimmick that does not grow old. This linked with the multiple ways to mutilate a body will leave you giddy with joy on how you will take apart your next victim. The QTE, (Quick Time Events) are still a large stable in God of War III. This time they have been taken to a new level and made a bit too easy for my liking. Instead of the buttons showing up near the action on the screen, they show up in the areas of the screen where the button is located on the controller (Square appears on the left side, circle on the right, ect.) making it rather easy for anyone who is even slightly familiar with a Playstation 3 controller to pull off these incredible feats. Overall you are getting what you expect and a little extra from the game play in God of War III.

The Value is, and always has been the story campaign. Making your way through the tragedy that is typical of Greek plays is what’s to be expected. This is a story about loss, pain, suffering, and revenge, all through the eyes of a man who became a god, and now again reduced to mortality. If you can’t appreciate the direction that this franchise is taking then I question why you picked up the second one of the series. The story telling is not as crisp at times with God of War III, but it doesn’t ever fall to the point of not being comprehendible. Don’t be surprised if the ending leaves you wanting more.


In Closing…
I didn’t want to like this game as much as I did. I constantly asked myself, “How in the world could this game live up to the hype?” My questions were answered no sooner than fifteen minutes into the game. The rest of the journey became more enjoyable as I progressed and I strongly recommend God of War III for your Playstation 3 collection. Giving depth to a “button masher” is difficult, but Santa Monica Studios has prevailed.

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