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God Of War III Review

thasdgmopjsff… Sorry, I should have picked my jaw up off the floor before I started speaking. To say this game opens in the most epic of fashions would be saying Kratos has a slight anger management issue. I have never witnessed such a grandiose intro with titans that not only fill the screen but are in fact fill the entire level and vast amount of enemies on screen at once. Epic is a word used a lot in this generation of games but GOW III has truly redefined the word and then disembowelled it.

GOW III has you to control Kratos once again as you pick up the story where the 2nd left off, on the back on Gaia as you scale Mount Olympus to exact vengeance against Zeus, the King of the Gods. It’s not all on Olympus though as you battle you’re way through Hades, Labyrinths and pictures by Escher – a fantastic perspective puzzle to make your way to the stunning conclusion. As always GOW is perfectly punctuated with regular upgrades roughly every 30 min, you can’t stop playing knowing the next new magic, item or weapon is not far away. Puzzles are less numerous than in previous entries and are smaller too no longer spanning multiple rooms but they do require a decent amount of thought providing you brain with a challenge to match your thumbs in combat.

Combat has been refined by linking weapons with magic so the D-Pad now selects which weapon you use and then each one has a its own specific magic ability tied to it. It works pretty much in the same fashion as GOW II but is more seamless allowing you to change between 4 different weapons and their associated magic mid combo. When you combine this to the new items on the R2 button (Bow of Apollo, head of Helios etc.) you suddenly have a lot more variations of attacks opening up many different possibilities. The quick time events have also been tweaked with the buttons placed on the same part of the screen as they are on the pad so X is on the bottom and O on the right etc… This allows you to concentrate on the action and see which button to press out of the corner of your eye, it also makes it easier as you start to subliminally see where the button is and instinctively press it. It’s a subtle change which took me a while to notice but proved one my favourites.

Speaking of the quick time events, the violence is more graphic than ever, this is probably down to the huge improvements in graphics allowing you to actually see the blood and guts spilling out of fallen Centaur Generals and the retina of a Cyclops’ eye snap as he yanks it out. Kratos has spent his time away coming up with some more unique methods of despatching his enemies from ripping out finger nails to dislocating jaws Kratos really has upped the ante in terms of bloodshed, there’s a trophy for covering him in 500 buckets of blood, even! The level design is as impressive as ever with minimal back tracking and whilst it is linear (just like I & II) there is no doubting the spectacle it manages to eke out and hey, it worked for Uncharted 2 and MW2 just fine. I was just sad Pegasus didn’t make a return, instead the flight levels are now just Kratos with the Icarus wings, these are fun but never reach the glorious highs of the Pegasus section in GOW II.

The graphics as you can clearly see in screenshots and videos are on a par if not better than Uncharted 2’s with exquisite use of depth of field and lighting. One odd omission though is the lack of some water effects for example rain splashes off the ground but not the characters and Kratos’ skirt never gets wet unlike Drake’s clothes not that I focus on these things… Anyway! You can’t fault the look of this game with all environments designed beautifully as well rendered superbly considering the lack of install and loading screens, you just get the one loading screen every time you load a saved game (just like in Uncharted 2).

Visually speaking there are few games that can match GOW III, it sets the new standard of epic with its gargantuan sense of scale and visceral visuals. The story is gripping with some great voice acting (look out for Kevin Sorbo reprising his role of Hercules!) and manages throws up some questions about Kratos’ actions which makes you wonder if the ends justify the means. It’s not deep but it doesn’t need to be with game play this great, constantly throwing you new and more enemies along with upgrades to cater for them. Sure it’s very similar to the previous outings but any kind of overhaul would not be well received, so it’s more of the same but bigger and better? Yep, it’s bloody good.

*Played to completion of Story mode on normal and completed all Challenges.

This review is based on a retail copy of the PS3 version of God Of War III provided by Sony Computer Entertainment.