God of War III is the fifth and final instalment in the God of War series, developed by Santa Monica Studio and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. Released on March 16th 2010, God of War III still stands firmly as one of the best games released for PlayStation 3. A third person action/adventure game, God of War III is as blood-thirsty and unforgiving as those that came before.
God of War II left Kratos, the vengeful protagonist, on his way up Mount Olympus on the back of a titan, Gaia. God of War III promptly picks up where it left off. Bent on murdering Zeus, you are almost immediately face-to-face with Poseidon and his enormous, parasitic watery horse. While certainly not delaying the violent and bloody boss-fights, Poseidon is but one of a string of ‘boss’ characters whom Kratos mows down on his way up the Godly hierarchal ladder towards his father, Zeus.
God of War III is set in ancient Greece, where Gods and monsters reign. Each god who encounters Kratos has their own traits and characters – such as Hermes, who speeds ahead of you in an infuriating chase, leaping just out of reach as you scramble close (grappling him with your weapon doesn’t work – I tried!).
Kratos must track down Pandora to open Pandora’s Box, the only way he can put an end to Zeus and the reign of the gods of Olympus once and for all.
There is nothing surprising or complicated about the gameplay of God of War III. Fighting enemies and solving puzzles are mediated by intervals of opening chests to find green orbs(for health), blue orbs (for magic) and red orbs (for experience and to upgrade your weapons). You can also find Gorgon Eyes, which maximise health and Phoenix Feathers which maximise your magic. New to GOW3 are Minotaur Horns which max out your yellow item metre. Pots and baskets contain red orbs too, and they can also be obtained by killing enemies. Some enemies grant health, such as minotaurs when killed in a certain way.
Like with the previous games in the series, the game doesn’t end on completion. Challenge mode is unlocked, allowing you to take on challenges such as preventing enemies spawning up to 50. Ticking off each of the challenges in challenge mode will leave you feeling on the verge of genocide yourself, and your thumbs will need a considerable rest from mashing!
As with the games before, God of War III’s combat system is combo-based. Although the weapons are similar to those before – chain-type weapons which slice and dice all in your way – they are much more seamlessly integrated into your gameplay. Along with the Blades of Exile which you begin with, you acquire the Claws of Hades (which are much like the Blades of Exile), enormous Cestus gauntlets, and the Nemesis Whip. Some puzzles can only be solved by switching between weapons – for example, Cestus can punch through Onyx. Some weapons are also more useful for certain enemies – ghostly ghouls need to be ripped back out of the ground using Claws of Hades, and have their souls ripped out. Apollo’s Bow sets alight flammable wooden blockages, Hermes’ shoes send you dashing up vertical walls and Helios’ head illuminates hidden goodies. You can switch between your main weapons using L1 and X, which provides a more seamless gameplay.
A big and very welcome change from previous games is the separated magic systems for each weapon. Now switching between weapons also switches between the individual magical spells which come with each weapon – my personal favourite is the soul summoning ability which comes with the Claws of Hades, where you unlock souls to fight by your side as you upgrade your weapon.
The Blade of Olympus weapon survived the movement to God of War III, now in a new form – you must collect red orbs to charge an ability called Rage of Sparta. When activated, this temporarily renders Kratos invulnerable and you wield the enormous sword for added damage.
Quick Time Events are still a strong presence in God of War III. I didn’t personally find these the annoyance that many people have moaned about. If anything, it’s a satisfying feeling seeing the familiar O symbol flash on the screen after a long fight with a tougher enemy, letting you know that it’s time to sit back, relax, hit a few buttons and watch Kratos brutally rip the eyeball of a Cyclops out of its head. It comes into play during puzzles too, such as one in which you press buttons in time to a giant musical instrument, like ancient Greek Guitar Hero. QTE’s sometimes let you leap on the back of enormous, three-headed dogs and use them to batter down foes. They integrate fairly unobtrusively with the gameplay, and the positioning of the button you must press coordinates with its positioning on the screen – X at the botton, triangle at the top etc – which means minimal fumbling around for the right button.
But Kratos doesn’t need weapons. Why smash a skeleton out of the way with a weapon when you could grab him in your hands and use it as a battering ram, before throwing its lifeless body at any poor soul that hasn’t been bowled over?
Hacking your way through hordes of enemies is punctuated by puzzles along your way. From dragging ladders from one end of a room to another to allow you to climb onwards to turning switches and using rocks to hold them in place, Kratos is faced with a number of head scratchers to impede his journey onwards. None of the puzzles are particular difficult – looking around for an object that glints usually lets you know fairly quickly what it is you’re supposed to be doing. My favourite puzzle was one where you had to kick demonic dogs through a portal and onto a platform to weight it down, before throwing a half-naked woman on after them. Kratos is nothing if not resourceful.
I was impressed with the environment of God of War III. The first chapter takes place on the body of the titan Gaia, who is under attack from Olympus. The ground shifts and sways beneath you, one moment a flat level, another moment leaving you scrambling up a vertical wall. Hermes’ boots that you acquire after tearing them bloodily from his body allow you to dash up and across walls, while the Wings of Icarus let you glide across wider chasms. The platforms are also interesting – sometimes, you must swing from chain to chain, rapidly slide down walls or fight minotaurs from breaking the chain holding you and the floor from falling to your death.
God of War III is gory, bloody and Kratos is exactly as unforgiving and uncaring of emotions as we expect from him. The combat system is smooth and the puzzles are intriguing. Shifting platforms are dynamic, and the graphics are perfectly stunning. I give it a SOLID 4/5. This is a must-play for all PS3 owners!
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.