The following fact should be perfectly clear if you’ve ever read any interview I’ve ever done or even know anything about me in general, but I will reiterate it anyway: I love God of War. It is basically my favorite game series of all times (yes, all times, plural; it’s my favorite in the Bronze Age, the Roman Empire and the Crusades in addition to today’s age). Upon reading this, you might think me possessing unnatural feelings for this game and its bald, blood-soaked protagonist, Kratos. Let me assure you that all feelings for Kratos are irrelevant, as he responds to all affection with MURDER.
I say this for the following reason: no matter what I feel, what I think or how I may dream of one day killing someone through a quick-time event minigame, this game kicks exactly seven different kinds of ass (Australian, American, European, Incan, Martian, Smithsonian and the ass of some dude named Dennis).
Keeping in mind these disturbing and awkward confessions, let us go kidney-deep into this game…
Some of you may not know the story of the game, since God of War I and II came out in that black era of JRPGs and one-testicled fighters known as the age of PS2, so let me enlighten you.
This is Kratos.
Kratos is not a happy man.
Kratos was never a happy man.
Kratos pretty much does what he’s doing to Helios there, except to everyone. He did it to the former deity of war: Ares. He did it to the former deity of wisdom: Athena. And now, having slaughtered close to a fourth of the Greek pantheon, he has returned, riding atop the backs of the formerly imprisoned Titans, to finish the rest of them off, climbing Mount Olympus to kill vengeful Zeus and eviscerate, decapitate, decimate, annihilate and sometimes masticate all of the mythical Chimeras, Minotaurs, Gorgons and Cerberi standing in his way.
The single word that would summarize this game is epic. There is absolutely nothing about this game that isn’t cranked up to 11, graphics or content-wise. From the great, primordial Titans that carry Kratos to face the Gods, brimming with their own heavenly fury, everything about this game is completely balls-off-the-wall.
Recently, I’ve begun using my own style of scoring for any kind of book, video game or movie I see. And that is how many times it manages to make me guffaw like an overstimulated buffoon, cackle like a hyena at a frat party or squeal like a little girl seeing a pale, pasty Briton. Basically, the stupider I look playing a game, the better it is.
Approximately two minutes into God of War 3, I probably resembled a drooling, gibbering mandrill and it only got worse from there.
The combat is superb. God of War has always been a pioneer of combat, striking a perfect balance between easy-to-use controls and the challenge of mastering the delicate ebb and flow of a fight. You can’t simply go mashing a button and winning all your fights. You need to feel the fight. You have to keep an eye on the Centaur in front of you, wondering when he’s going to charge you, while simultaneously fending off the vicious blows of his undead soldiers. Add into this watching the skies for a vengeful sun god and you basically have something that is gory, violent and oddly beautiful, like a clockwork ballerina: everything moving in gorgeous, utter harmony as she gingerly wraps the twisting gears of her thighs around peoples’ necks and watches the skin bunch up, fold and split in the mechanism.
The beauty of the fights are only compounded by the graphics. God of War is known for pushing the limits of a system’s visuals and God of War 3 continues this trend, not so much pushing the limits as smashing off a piece and using it to shatter the rest into pulverized dust. That is to say, it’s very, very beautiful and…lordy, it’s like lovemaking. You can’t describe it. You must experience it.
Gorgeous, vastly elaborate environments, and the puzzles so greatly worked into them, are also an object of renown in God of War games and the third installment continues its new tradition of smashing this old tradition into dust. The puzzles are fantastic, delicately woven into the environment so that they don’t feel so much as there just to inconvenience you as they are a natural part of the area. Admittedly, if I have one criticism about this game, it’s that the head-scratchers might have been toned down from the previous installments, as there weren’t any real moments that caused me more than a few minutes’ pause (compared to God of War 2’s almost conspiratorially frustrating Phoenix Chamber), but overall, I think this is the best choice, as it means the action never once slows down.
Basically, the message is that this game not only succeeds, but succeeds to a phenomenal degree, at nearly everything it does: gameplay, graphics, puzzles, combat, design, monsters, soundtrack (beautiful orchestra done by Gerard Marino, Ron Fish and Cris Velasco). I mean, hell, the depiction of Kratos himself is almost a work of art with the level of detail put into him.
It’s one of those games where the biggest flaw you can think of is that it eventually ends.
This is a game that has has a few people lamenting the lack of a PS3. Is it worth the price of one alone? Eh, possibly not. Though, if you have your eye on any other PS3-exclusives, like Uncharted 2, then this one should be on your list, as well.
And if you have a PS3 and don’t own this game? You are automatically worse than Hitler. Yes, I know I just violated Godwin’s Law. It’s that good a game.