God of War III, by SCEA
By a rough count, Kratos has killed every mythical beast from Greek mythology and every soul trapped in the realm of the dead at least three times over. And, that was before the latest installment in this action packed series. God of War III brings Kratos’ brutal killing frenzies to the next generation of gaming consoles on the PS3. According to the designers, this game is the finale of the trilogy, though whether that proves true or whether the series proves to be as much a trilogy as Indiana Jones or Die Hard was has yet to be seen.
If you have never played any other game in the God of War series, the story will be a tad confusing. The story picks up exactly where the last game left off, with Kratos leading an army of titans to assault Mt. Olympus. If this does not sound exactly like the myth was explained to you in your high school literature class, this is because SCEA has taken some liberties with the original source material.
If you have played the series, you know how Kratos arrived at this point, why he is angry at Zeus and why he seems to be little more than an overpowered serial killer. If you are not familiar with the series, the game does not do a good job of providing background and the less than enthralling story is likely to have little draw for you. Without giving away the ending, the long running story is does come to a conclusive, if not tidy resolution. Unfortunately, there really is more game than necessary to finish this story and much of the game feels like mindless bloodshed just to add hours and difficulty.
Game Play (3/5)
If you are familiar with just about any current or previous generation action game, you will be familiar with the game play of God of War III. You have a button for quick attack, another for heavy attack, another to jump and the last main button is used to grab. In addition, the shoulder buttons are used for blocking, interacting with the environment, and activating special techniques. At various points during the game, especially during boss battles, you will need to press certain buttons at specific times in order to perform an action.
When God of War was originally released for the PlayStation 2, this action was still in its infancy and God of War was one of the games to pioneer the formula. Five years later, this is standard fare in just about every action game and God of War III has added little to expand the genre. Unoriginal game play is made even more frustrating by a poor choice in control scheme. Unlike many action games, God of War III uses the X button to jump rather than perform a light attack. This makes the controls far from natural for gamers who have become accustomed to a specific button layout.
In addition to the button layout, God of War III makes good use of the R3 control stick. A slight flick of the stick causes Kratos to make a dodging roll in whatever direction was pressed or to quickly sidle past a threat while standing on a ledge. In fact, ledge controls are surprisingly good given how terrible jumping controls are. For some reason, Kratos has absolutely terrible jumping skills, unless he is pressed against a wall, in which case he can hop exceptionally high.
Two other flaws show up in the game play, though one is quite minor and both apply only sporadically. At various points throughout the game, Kratos will fly. While flying you need to keep him from striking objects. Unfortunately, his maneuvering speed is very slow, making the flying stages frustrating and more of a repetitive test of memory than an actual test of skill. Finally, at various points, Kratos must jump over gaps. Failure to jump a gap results in instant death. Instant death in a life bar based game is bad, especially given the terrible jumping ability of Kratos.
Purely based on background images and cut scenes, God of War III fully takes advantage of the power of the PS3. Unfortunately, standard game play images do not look exceptionally better than game play images from God of War II. In fact, the graphics from both games look so similar, it would be understandable for someone to confuse the two games. Even with amazing cut scenes, the failure of God of War III to take advantage of the PS3 during normal game play is simply unforgivable.
Imagine the music from Clash of the Titans, except three times as loud and ten times as dramatic and you have a sense of the sound track of God of War III. It is loud, booming, intense, thrilling, and just about perfect. The sound effects are not quite as perfect, ranging from gruesomely realistic to annoyingly grating. The sounds of necks snapping, spleens getting ruptured, and organs being torn asunder are spot on. The sound of Helios’ gaze is annoying at first and becomes worse by the second. The mixture of good and bad in sound effects is a slight dampener on otherwise great music.
One thing that must be said about this game is that the designers have shown no hesitation in making the game as brutal as possible. Innocents can be easily and messily slaughtered for health bonuses, while bosses or torn apart, literally limb by limb before they finally die. If the image of watching a chimera have its small intestine torn out or a Cyclops have its eye ripped out disturbs you, this game is not for you.
If you are comfortable with the violence, than God of War III is an ever so slightly above average action game. Fans of the series should consider this a must-buy game, while anyone new to the series is best off finding a discounted copy of God of War first and getting a feel for the series before committing to this game. The almost complete lack of originality simply prevents the game from standing out in the crowd of action games that have been released in the past few years for the PS3.