God of War 3

“Olympus will prevail!” Pfft, please. The beginning of God of War 3 starts off with Zeus proclaiming to his fellow Gods that Kratos and the Titans will not reign supreme over their kingdom. But, little do they know that the Gods’ former errand boy is knocking at their doorstep and ready to pounce.

In GoW3, you are immediately thrust into war following the final events of God of War 2 for Kratos’ third — and final — voyage to plant revenge on those who’ve done him wrong.

All seen in an extra level of visual fidelity only possible on the machine that brought us last year’s Uncharted 2. SCEA Santa Monica never had a problem squeezing out the last remaining juice out of the PS2’s graphical capabilities with the previous entries but HD suits Kratos well and further respects the brand built on visceral thrills and breathtaking action scenes.

God of War 3 is no different. It starts off with a Bond-esque big-battle moment, as always, and integrates an incredible tutorial at the same time. You’ll swing off the side of a Titan’s face and, incidentally, help her fend off Poseidon’s massive water-based Leviathans early on in the game. And by the end of the jaw-dropping intro level, you’ll be familiar with how you control Kratos and his Blades of Exile.

Besides the expected eye candy the series has come to be known for, there’s other small touches added to the gameplay mechanics of God of War 3. First-person kills demonstrate the gravity of Kratos’ brute force unlike anything that’s come before and, even, the traditional series’ gameplay has received a few tweaks to improve the fluidity of combat.

Each weapon is now tied to a corresponding button on the D-pad (each with its own particular magic-based attack) and Zelda-esque story progression items have also been mixed into the formula. While not as elegantly placed as in Nintendo’s flagship series, they serve as nice action breaks to solve puzzles throughout the 8-hour-plus repayment mission.

GoW3 does its best to remedy the “fill mini-bosses and minions in a room here” problem most brawlers have by creating lush environments and irregular camera angles that distract you from the reality that you’re pushing square and triangle through the majority of the game.

Unfortunately, for every immerse battle, there’s plenty more where you’re boxed in to an area fighting the same enemies for five minutes — or more — at a time. It never becomes overly taxing but when you continue to fight nonstop long after you’ve had your fill and expectation of an end to the scene…it keeps going and lessens the impact and danger of said situation.

The story makes it even worse at times. There were plenty of moments where I was left completely bewildered wondering why I was where I was and even how I got there. The inclusion of Stargate-like portals didn’t do the game’s cohesiveness any favors.

Now, that’s not to say the story in God of War 3 is a waste because there are great moments sprinkled in throughout and the director’s unrestrained vision is certainly felt. I commend the team for sticking to their guns and not giving the gamer a choice to direct the game towards a “good” or “bad” meter for Kratos.

Instead, you have to do whatever they tell you to do as part of the story; no matter how unsavory Kratos’ actions, and consequences to those, may be. It just didn’t seem as focused as previous iterations, is all.

The main problem to the story, though, is that it constantly reiterates and reminds you of things that happened just two minutes ago! “End already!” is a statement I yelled on more than one occasion while playing the game.

Other small grievances include the limited amount of Titan battles, quick-time event fail states that (at this point in the series) pull you out of the experience, and a few progress-blocking bugs. On more than one incident I needed to reload a save hours prior to where my current stomping grounds were because the area ahead had warped into a screen-blurring mess.

Closing Thoughts:

God of War 3 does its best to up the ante for action brawlers this generation with beautiful hi-res visuals and larger-than-life boss events but, when compared to its own heritage, falls short in several aspects the series previously mastered. As it stands with its general lack of focus, artifically inflated play time, and series of wearisome quirks it is just another God of War game. Not a bad thing, just expect more of the same. A technical marvel but a bit more flawed than the last time around.

Grade: B+

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