Sony Santa Monica’s anti-hero Kratos had his last outing on the PS2 and the three years he’s had in hibernation have certainly been for the better. God of War 3 is the latest and final chapter in the story of Kratos’ personal vendetta against the gods of Olympus which has us pick up right where number 2 left off. Three years have gone by, three years for one of Sony’s most talented teams to put out a game not only better than other games already out, but good enough to satisfy the droves of fans with an epic ending to a truly amazing trilogy.
If you have not played the first two games then I urge you to skip this paragraph as the story truly does rely upon the previous titles. God of War 3 picks up right where two left us hanging, a huge battle brewing between the titans and gods once again and Kratos stuck in the middle of everything. Zeus is the main target of Kratos’ rage but as he has said so often, he will destroy all of Olympus if it gets in his way. Throughout the story we see Kratos struggle with his inner demons and even face some of the same choices he made so long ago. Along your journey to destroy the gods you will meet many important Greek figures from which you gain abilities and goals. The formula for the story is pretty much the same from the past two games which is something God of War veterans will enjoy but may put off those that are only moderate fans. Nonetheless, the story and ending are fitting for such a trilogy and it will be interesting to see where Sony Santa Monica takes the title next.
Much of the gameplay from the previous two games is here but it is much improved upon. The formula has been perfected to a point where you do need to adhere to the changes or else you WILL lose. Weapons and picked up abilities can be switched on the fly literally in the middle of fighting and keep your hit counter going. The fluid ability to switch weapons and even designate certain combos to include three types of weapons is a great site for long time veterans. Not to worry the others, however, as the combat system is not so complicated that you are lost within the multiple combinations of buttons and moves. The game allows for a good amount of test and practice as you acquire each weapon which you will need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of. Another new feature that has been toted is the grapple system. This makes reaching enemies much easier with the ability to bring the fight to them. Harpies are no longer the bane of a brawl, Sirens and bosses are never out of range, and getting close to activate magic abilities no longer means sacrificing your health. Speaking of magic abilities, each weapon comes with its own magic instead of having a specific figure bestow it upon you. All of the abilities vary come in handy and, again, will need to be utilized to successfully conquer the baddies in your way. Along the way you will also be able to upgrade and expand the attacks of each weapon as you see fit. Something that was somewhat used in the second game was the item bar, a yellow bar that depleted as you used specific items that weren’t magic based but more ability based. This bar can be upgraded like your magic and health by finding chests with specific items to sacrifice.
With an in-house studio creating the epic conclusion to the God of War trilogy it is only expected that they produce some of the most top notch visuals to grace the platform they are developing for. Not to be out done by the likes of Uncharted 2, which is visually stunning in every way, Sony Santa Monica went ahead and created their own version of stunning, by creating movable levels. This may not mean much to you but think of it this way: One of the minions that normally spawns is exploded to the size larger than the Sears tower and then you have to climb and crawl all over his body to kill him. That is how large one of the actual titan levels is. And not only does this level move and attack you but it all runs at a smooth frame rate with nary a screen tear. Kratos is five times as detailed as God of War 2 and the environments are all superbly detailed as well. Everything about God of War 3 screams “visual beast” as the blood from enemies covers Kratos and he rips them to shreds with his blades. Sony Santa Monica has created a technical marvel to excellently compliment the reputation of the God of War series.
Even though God of War 3 has no multiplayer, something not needed for a single player marvel of a series like this, there is a good amount of replay value to be found. After beating the game you have the opportunity to try your hand out in the Challenge of Olympus, a series of challenges that you have to complete according to the rules set for each challenge. This is where you can truly put your skills to the test and extend the life of the game. As always there are harder difficulties to be unlocked after you beat the game which will also test your ability to not fling a controller across the room. GoW veterans should be used to this if you completed Titan Mode in number 2. Like the second game, you can’t use unlocks and bonus items you find in your first play through but you can use it on the difficulty level that you beat the game on and those that are easier. One feature that is sure to annoy gamers are the costumes’ abilities to turn off trophies when being used. Sure trophies are meant to be hard to get but playing the game with a different costume and being rewarded for it is a nice idea. As for the number of costumes, it’s disappointing to see only one unlockable costume through the entire game. All others that you see people playing with come from pre-order bonuses and promotions put up by various retailers. Still, the amount of unlockables is on par with the second game with is neither good nor bad.
Three years spent in the incubation chamber that is Sony Santa Monica and the final chapter of our anti-hero Kratos is a gratifying one. From start to finish God of War 3 is a game that shines with all the polish and flowing formula that has been tinkered and tweaked from the first iteration. Weapons are amazingly diverse with a combat system that utilizes the variety of those weapons. The dialogue and character acting is expertly delivered which makes it believable that the characters could exist within the Greek realm. With massively scaled environments, brutally enhanced kills and disembowelments, and a cohesive story that will make you glad you picked up the series, God of War 3 is one epic ride everyone should experience and not just once, but multiple times. For a game in the hack ‘n’ slash genre, God of War 3 is the best at what it does. God of War 3 easily deserves the best Stuff We Like could offer it, “Must Buy”.