Tuesday, March 30, 2010

God of War III Review

God of War III has arrived on the PlayStation 3, to tie up lose ends for the third installment in the series. I never really got into the PlayStation’s business, but I got myself a PS3 Slim when they were first released and have heard good things of the GoW series, so before the release of GoW3, I picked up the GoW Collection and beat the first two games in the trilogy. I found them a bit boring and repetitive, but GoW3 came out during Spring Break and I was bored, so figured what the hey. Does the final game of the trilogy stick to the same old same old, or reinvent itself into a true spectacle? Read on, dear viewers, to find out.

As this is a true sequel to the previous games, the story picks up right after the second left off. You are on top of Gaia, a titan, scaling Mount Olympus on your way to kick Zeus’ ass with the rest of your ginormous friends. Kratos has a bone to pick with Zeus and the other gods, and he’s not gonna stop until they are all dead. I was completely blown away from the beginning, as the graphics and cinematics are simply stunning. This is by far one of the best looking games I’ve ever played. Everything pops, and it’s just incredible. The game starts with a bang as well. Not only are you climbing all over a friggin’ titan, but GoW3 wastes no time with giving you a challenge, in the form of the god Poseidon. He is your first boss encounter, and it happens within ten minutes of actually starting the game.

One of the things that bothered me from the previous GoW games, was that there weren’t really any boss battles. I have a bad memory, but I think there were like, two in the first game, and maybe a handful more in the second. You are just stuck in a giant temple the entire time, and don’t face many bosses. God of War III remedies that quite a bit, by taking you from location to location, and pitting you up against five gods, and another two or three bosses and epic enemies. These fights are pretty amazing, and brutal. Some of the things Kratos does…..damn. You do visit the same locations a couple times, and do that damned flying through a tunnel a bit, but overall, the variety is good and you’ll keep playing until you reach the end.

The gameplay itself is almost identical to previous iterations. You run through environments, solving little puzzles here and there, cutting up enemies as you go. Your main weapon is still the Blades of Chaos, I mean, the Blades of Athena, no, wait, that’s not right, they are the Blades of Exile, yeah, that’s it. The game hasn’t changed too much, so yeah, you’re still wielding those dual blades chained to your arms, although there is an extra move or two. The main addition is that of the combat grapple, where you can be guarding and press Circle to grab an enemy, and then do a sweet move with him, like pressing Square to use him as a meat-shield and run other enemies over, which is pretty awesome. Other than that, your light attack is still Square, heavy attack is Triangle, and you jump with X. You can hold L1 to block, and then press a face button to do a special move.

Quick-time events are also back, naturally, as they were a major feature of the first games. They’ve slightly been enhanced, with the button to press on the side of the screen that matches with the controller. This definitely threw me off the first time I saw it, as I didn’t know where the friggin’ icon was, as it moved around the screen basically, but once you figure it out, it’s easy, and an extra queue to let you know which button to press. However, it makes enjoying the cinematic moments a lot harder, as you want to be able to look directly at the action, but you can’t if you have a wide screen TV. You instead have to be looking out of your peripherals the entire time and looking at all sides of your screen install of a central location.

There are multiple weapons you can pick up in the game, as well as the ability to use magic and items. There are a total of four main weapons, and while each behaves slightly different, they are essentially the same, aside from perhaps the gauntlets. Each are dual-blades, so no single swords or anything this time around. Each definitely has different attacks which do different things to enemies and will have Kratos moving slightly differently, but overall, same thing. Each weapon also has a unique magic, so if you want to use a particular magic, you have to have that weapon equipped, although changing weapons is as simple as a tap of the d-pad. The magics more so determined which weapon I wanted to have out, although like the weapons, they are also fairly similar, so using any magic when there are numerous enemies on screen will have the relatively same effect. The coolest magic, aside from the awesome tornado you lose after the prologue, is the Army of Sparta, where you surround yourself with Spartan shields, in a phalanx, and kill everyone in your radius.

Aside from the weapons’ and their magic, you can also wield a few items, such as a bow, an annoying head, and another ability or two. These are activated by holding the L2 button and pressing a face button. You have to use the head a lot, if you want those blasted treasure chests, and the others I only used when necessary, so they don’t add too much to the game.

Those treasure chests are the same as those in the previous games as well, except there is a third item you can get from them this time around, the minotaur horn, along with the usual gorgon eye and phoenix feather. While there are three collectibles, you only need to find three of each to upgrade each unit, with the third being for use with the aforementioned items. Unfortunately, most of these chests are hidden from view, so you’ll have to use a certain someone’s head to uncover them, which means you’ll be pulling out the head every where you go in search of these chests, if you so choose, and every time you pull it out, it belts out an annoying scream.

Aside from those valuables, there are also godly items scattered throughout the world, which you’ll most definitely want to seek out. These don’t do anything until after you’ve beaten the game, but once you’ve done that, they act as cheats, which you can turn on and off, such as infinite magic, decreased damage, health meter slowly drains, and other such effects, which can be fun to play around with.

Once you’ve beaten the game, you also unlock a harder difficulty, for a total of four, as well as a costume for Kratos, which is pretty awesome looking and has an effect or two. Unfortunately, that is the only real extra costume in the game, which is disappointing. There were others, but you had to get those through pre-orders, slurpee drinking, and what not. And of course, GoW3 takes from the previous games again with other extras it offers, including extensive making-of videos, which are definitely worth a watch, and a handful of challenges and an arena. The challenges are sort of fun, but nothing that will add hours of gameplay.

I beat the game on my first play through on normal, in a little over 8 hours. So, if you’re playing on easy or normal, I wouldn’t expect it to take you too much longer than that; around the 10 hour range; hard may take longer. So, while the game isn’t the longest in the world, it gets the job done. In fact, I felt it dragged itself along at times, but that’s mainly due to the story construction and how it’s a little weird at times if you really think about it. Either way, the game is packed with plenty of variety, with more than a few crazy awesome moments that keep the game fresh. There are a handful of truly epic moments and some super brutality. The power of the PS3 does allow for some incredible experiences and you’ll definitely be playing more and more in hopes of getting to another one.

Kratos sticks with his character, in being a complete bad-ass and brutal mother f’er and there are some times where you just laugh, or maybe get sick, at the things he does. Definitely not a game for kids. Along with this, I found GoW3 to be a bit more focused on the combat and fighting, as opposed to the puzzle solving, which was a bit more laid back this time around. While the games have never been super puzzle heavy, the ones they did include weren’t exactly trivial. There are some puzzling moments in the game, but not quite as many as there have been in the past.

Overall, God of War III definitely repeats what it’s done in the past, but brings with it amazing graphics and some spectacular moments. If you’ve played the first two games, don’t expect anything really new, in terms of gameplay, which remains a bit of a hack-and-slash. However, if you’re already invested in the story, then you’ll definitely want to see its conclusion, and experience the shear awesomeness that is GoW3. Don’t be scared off either, if you haven’t played the first two games. Their stories aren’t incredibly important, and GoW3 can most definitely be enjoyed without playing the others. Kratos’ story is replayed a few times during GoW3, so you can play catch up, although you may be a bit lost at times, but it’s nothing you can’t google. If you didn’t like the previous games, you won’t like this one, but if you thought they were decent enough, you may want to just rent this bad boy to check out the graphics; they’re pretty awesome.

Overall Score: 9.2/10

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