God of War III

Man, that Kratos is an angry dude. But fair enough – through three games now, he’s been screwed over by a huge menagerie of Greek legends.

I’ve just finished the game, and I’m trying to collect my thoughts. I’ll start with the easy sum-up: if you’re a fan of the series, or just like enjoyable popcorn action titles in general, you won’t regret laying down some cash for this one. God of War III sits comfortably alongside other recent PlayStation 3 exclusives like Uncharted 2 and Heavy Rain – it’s just as polished, and combined with those other titles, helps create an aura of value around the PS3 that simply wasn’t there a year or two ago.

 
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To the longtime fans: this is my first GoW experience, but I’m still pretty sure you’ll appreciate what’s on offer here. The gameplay has obviously been polished up and extended, but it’s the tying up of loose narrative threads that a lot of people are looking forward to. This definitely feels like a third – and final – act. You may now stop reading this review and go buy the game.

To everyone else: read on!

God of War III is, obviously, the conclusion to a saga that started on the PlayStation 2 many years ago. Main man Kratos was compelled to murder his family, and since then has gotten into a lot of trouble with gods, titans, and anything else that relates to Greek mythology. Being an angry man, Kratos’ only mission now is vengeance; specifically, he’d like to commit patricide, which can get problematic when your father is Zeus. This is the overall thrust of the story, and (for better and worse) it rarely deviates from it.

Gameplay is a mixture of third person action/adventure tropes that you’re surely quite familiar with by now. You’ll be spending a lot of time mashing the attack buttons as you face off against hordes of fantastical enemies. Thankfully, there’s enough variety in your weapons and abilities – and in the tactics required to take down different bad guys – that you won’t get bored. This is lucky, as 80% of the game is combat. The other 20% is a collection of fairly standard puzzles that wouldn’t be out of place in Tomb Raider – or, indeed, Uncharted. Some are more interesting than others, but they always provide a welcome relief from the wholesale slaughter that’s going on. I particularly liked it when the developers were obviously thinking outside the box a bit – look for an Escher-esque puzzle later on in the game to see what I mean.

Overall, I would say the gameplay is derivative, but when everything’s this damned polished, it simply becomes definitive. The key thing that makes it work is the same as in games like Gears of War – the basic mechanics might not be overly original, but it’s what you do with it that counts. The GoW III gameplay consists of a series of exciting set pieces that almost never lets up. You might be mashing the same buttons for the whole game, but it feels different from level to level. Of course, some bad guys and tropes are recycled towards the end a bit, but for much of the game you’re constantly surprised by new twists on the same concept.

Actually, that’s probably the best thing about God of War III: many of its set pieces are frickin’ cool. My favourite moments throughout the game came when the developers decided to screw with your sense of scale. Right from the opening scenes, you’ll see (and play) Kratos climbing up Mount Olympus on the back of a 2km-high titan, whose body becomes much of the first level. And it just gets bigger from there – but not always. Much like Uncharted 2 controlled the pacing of your experience with a deft hand, GoW III mixes up claustrophobic, dimly lit caves with huge sweeping vistas of a world plunged into chaos. As has been pointed out countless times, it’s this kind of juxtaposition that really makes you appreciate what you’re playing/reading/viewing/hearing.

Holding all these scenes together, of course, is the story. I like Greek mythology, and it was fun to see so many aspects of it represented here. I don’t want to spoil much, but let’s just say you’ll encounter many classical characters, and that Kratos leaves a huge amount of destruction in his wake. In many ways, it’s like a tiki tour through ancient Greece – oh hey, here’s this guy! And now here’s this guy!

I may always be looking for too much when it comes to action game storylines, but I feel like there were some interesting themes lying under the surface of GoW III that were never really taken anywhere. It’s a bit of a shame, as the whole “must kill my father no matter the cost!” shindig quickly got a bit tiresome. I feel bad asking for fully developed subtexts in a game like this, but it’s obvious that there are some smart writers on this development team, and I would have liked to see what they could come up with given a greater emphasis on narrative. Maybe for the next game, when they’ll obviously have an infinite supply of money and time, right?

The game took me about nine hours to complete, although I was rushing through. There are additional items you can hunt for, but the level design is pretty linear overall. If you know your action games, definitely turn up the difficulty setting – you’ll get a lot more satisfaction from different weapon tactics, which all become a bit meaningless on easier settings. If you’re a completist, there are enough bonus items, costumes, and Challenge modes to unlock to warrant at least one more play through. Just make sure you watch the making of documentary after finishing the game – it’s surprisingly good.

We’ve come to expect a very high level of awesomeness when it comes to the graphics and sound of these kinds of titles, but even so, GoW III busts out a few key moments that will make even jaded gamers go “wow”. The music is simply cool, and entirely fitting (have I used the word ‘epic’ yet?). Voice acting? Well, Kratos sounds uniformly pissed off, Zeus sounds dastardly, and mere mortals sound helpless. This isn’t an Uncharted-level cast, but they’re consistent across the board.

One more obvious thing to mention: this is a very violent game. It goes without saying that kids should really not be playing it – if you’re a parent, put them to bed first! But it’s violent in such an over the top way that it’s far less disturbing than any title with a pretense of realism. In most instances, GoW III successfully straddles this line, so you’ll be ripping off heads or spilling centaur spleens without a care. But if you’re squeamish, be warned!

And that’s that. If you have a PS3 and like action games, go buy this, or at least rent it. God of War III is polished from (severed) head to (bloodied) toe, and is an enjoyable, ridiculous experience perfect for the moments where you just want to switch your brain off.


God of War III
"Polished, gory, fun."
- God of War III
9.2
Excellent
 
Follow Own it? Rating: R16   Difficulty: Medium   Learning Curve: 30 Min


 

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Comments Comments (38)

 
Digitaldude
Posted by Digitaldude
On Monday 8 Mar 2010 6:14 PM
-1
Good review, however I disagree on the gameplay, if its anything like GoW1 and 2 which I'm sure it is, button mashing is possible on easy difficulties but you will die alot on harder difficulties which it didn't mention. The new moves are actually really useful.
 
 
 
Sonic
Posted by Sonic
On Monday 8 Mar 2010 6:16 PM
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Combined with the PS3 'updated" versions of the first 2 this will be awesome. So long as its violent and gruesome the same (or better) than Prototype. *AddZ* to wish list. well will after I finish the other 6 games I'm sprawling through.
 
 
 
Ruptunex
Posted by Ruptunex
On Monday 8 Mar 2010 6:27 PM
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When you said the gameplay was Derivative i was all O_O Just because god of war pretty much started that kind of gameplay. It's be blasphemous for it to be otherwise. But i see you went on to say that its definitely Definitive. W00t
 
 
 
KatalystaKaos NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
Posted by KatalystaKaos
On Monday 8 Mar 2010 7:12 PM
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I imported and played through the PS3 GOW Collection a few weeks ago, and was as enthralled with the games as I was the first time through on PS2 (amazing in retrospect that the ps2 pulled those graphics off). This review has got me even more fired up to get into the latest instalment, stoked to hear it's worthy of 9.2. BRING IT !!
 
 
 
doa766
Posted by doa766
On Monday 8 Mar 2010 7:59 PM
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gameplay is derivative?? derivative of what?? the other god of war games??

people who started really playing games this generation shouldn't write reviews
 
 
 
doa766
Posted by doa766
On Monday 8 Mar 2010 8:17 PM
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PS3 didn't have value a year ago? really?

what about metal gear solid 4, little big planet, resistance 1, uncharted 1, motorstorm, valyria chronicles, the first ratchet and clank? all games on the same quality level as heavy rain and uncharted 2

you really don't seem qualified to write about games, it's a shame that this game's metacritic score is going to be soiled by your ignorance
 
 
 
Mr_Mthrfkr
Posted by Mr_Mthrfkr
On Monday 8 Mar 2010 8:19 PM
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Holy balls.

I cant wait.
 
 
 
Mr.Deflok
Posted by Mr.Deflok
On Monday 8 Mar 2010 8:22 PM
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Four games, including the mobile one :P Nice review, though!
 
 
 
Mr_Mthrfkr
Posted by Mr_Mthrfkr
On Monday 8 Mar 2010 8:23 PM
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Jeez DOA, who lit the fuse on YOUR tampon...
 
 
 
MA3LK
Posted by MA3LK
On Monday 8 Mar 2010 8:35 PM
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Damn it sounds like a great game, might have to try it out later this year.
 
 
 
RealmEnder
Posted by RealmEnder
On Monday 8 Mar 2010 8:52 PM
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Good to see NZGamer spitting out one of the first reviews. Pre ordered, counting down....
 
 
 
Gazza22 NZGamer.com VIP VIP Silver
Posted by Gazza22
On Monday 8 Mar 2010 9:36 PM
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8 March 2010, 08:17 PM Reply to doa766
PS3 didn't have value a year ago? really?

what about metal gear solid 4, little big planet, resistance 1, uncharted 1, motorstorm, valyria chronicles, the first ratchet and clank? all games on the same quality level as heavy rain and uncharted 2

you really don't seem qualified to write about games, it's a shame that this game's metacritic score is going to be soiled by your ignorance
And you dont seem qualified to comment on something you know very little about. Tristan Clark just so happens to be at the heart of the NZG reviewing team and is well respected by this community.

But who cares. A great game is a great game and thats what we got here, so lets just celebrate that.
 
 
 
Vixremento
Posted by Vixremento
On Monday 8 Mar 2010 10:07 PM
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Ultimate edition pre-ordered a few weeks ago...hardest part is going to be playing through the first two again before I play the 3rd one - but it just means more quality time with Kratos!
 
 
 
Soyerz NZGamer.com VIP VIP Silver
Posted by Soyerz
On Monday 8 Mar 2010 10:27 PM
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Fools on N4G think the are the man for dissing NZgamer -Yawn- Great review Tristian. People need to realise that not everything is going to be 10 just because they THINK the game is going to be perfect.

Graphics at 9.5 seems perfectly reasonable for gods sake!
 
 
 
Koopa18 NZGamer.com VIP VIP Gold
Posted by Koopa18
On Monday 8 Mar 2010 10:41 PM
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lol. bringing down the metacritic score.

Some peoples lives must be so bad.
 
 
 
nimrod76 NZGamer.com VIP VIP Gold
Posted by nimrod76
On Monday 8 Mar 2010 11:31 PM
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Got up to the bit when you told me to stop reading :D don't want to come across any spoilers. But great score and glad NZGR got a review out so quick.

And DOA get a grip.
 
 
 
wheelchairted
Posted by wheelchairted
On Tuesday 9 Mar 2010 12:18 AM
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The fact you started off with "Man, that Kratos is an angry dude" says more about why you should stop writing about video games than I ever have to.
 
 
 
KatalystaKaos NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
Posted by KatalystaKaos
On Tuesday 9 Mar 2010 7:33 AM
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Whoa the the fan-boys are livid, it really has gotten ridiculous, surely no-one, in all of living reality, can think 9.2 out of 10 is a bad score ??? I'm a huge fan of the series and really people this a great review it's also one of the first on the net so is definitely honest opinion that has not been influenced by other scores. In all honesty I do not believe any game ever will be perfect enough to truly deserve a 10/10, I agree with those that say the gaming review community has got out of balance with other critical media. This review is .2% out with the Metacritic aggregate score & , hardly inflammatory or hit seeking, wait until someone gives it less than 90% then the fan-boys will really be up on their hinds (and hopefully vanish from these pages), Sad very, very sad, people play the game and enjoy in your own right don't have a hissy fit over .2%.
 
 
 
Donutta
Posted by Donutta
On Tuesday 9 Mar 2010 10:13 AM
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8 March 2010, 10:41 PM Reply to Koopa18
lol. bringing down the metacritic score.

Some peoples lives must be so bad.
Have my babies.
 
 
 
Ubercuber NZGamer.com VIP VIP Silver
Posted by Ubercuber
On Tuesday 9 Mar 2010 10:17 AM
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Is it true its about 10 hours long? Not that theres anything wrong with that - but I might just hire it instead.
 
 
 
Donutta
Posted by Donutta
On Tuesday 9 Mar 2010 10:19 AM
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Also gotta love all the people questioning qualifications for reviewing, of all things, video games. Given Tristan's qualifications, the tone of this review is perfect for the subject matter. Mind you, I'm sure the people that are pissed probably think this is some great reflection of the true artistic power of video games -- powerful, Greek myth in a bloodstained toga. The same kind of people who thought Dante's Inferno was awesome because it took the wussy out of that boring poem.
 
 
 
Donutta
Posted by Donutta
On Tuesday 9 Mar 2010 10:38 AM
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Actually, I went to Metacritic out of curiosity. Tristan's review is in the middle of the opinions. I know acknowledging other sites is a bit of a faux pas, but for comparison, IGN gave it 93/100, GameSpot and Eurogamer gave it 90/100, and the Telegraph gave it 80/100. Reading some of the comments on other reviews, it seems that people are saying "true" sites are giving it a perfect score. You know, "true" sites like the Masters of Hyperbole and Snark, Destructoid.

Ahem.

Move along, there is really nothing to see here.
 
 
 
Phoenix NZGamer.com VIP VIP Gold
Posted by Phoenix
On Tuesday 9 Mar 2010 11:23 AM
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9 March 2010, 10:17 AM Reply to Ubercuber
Is it true its about 10 hours long? Not that theres anything wrong with that - but I might just hire it instead.
It can be finished in about 7-8 hours if you go through at a decent pace on easy. I would imagine that the harder difficulties will be.. harder.. and thus take longer. Plus, the unlockables you get the first time through would warrant another play through.
 
 
 
stungaf NZGamer.com VIP VIP Silver
Posted by stungaf
On Tuesday 9 Mar 2010 11:38 AM
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they're complaining about 9.5 for graphics?

i wasn't that impressed with the demo graphically.
in fact i was a little disappointed.
hopefully the full game is much better and warrants the 9.5.
because in this universe 9.5 is a good thing.
 
 
 
The Host of Chaos NZGamer.com VIP VIP Gold
Posted by The Host of Chaos
On Tuesday 9 Mar 2010 12:06 PM
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Looking forward to this even though I don't think I can really afford it. Oh well.
 
 
 
Ubercuber NZGamer.com VIP VIP Silver
Posted by Ubercuber
On Tuesday 9 Mar 2010 1:40 PM
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The graphics look nice - but a lot of the screenshots seem to be 10% graphics, 90% bloom.
 
 
 
McPhisto
Posted by McPhisto
On Tuesday 9 Mar 2010 2:47 PM
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9 March 2010, 11:38 AM Reply to stungaf
they're complaining about 9.5 for graphics?

i wasn't that impressed with the demo graphically.
in fact i was a little disappointed.
hopefully the full game is much better and warrants the 9.5.
because in this universe 9.5 is a good thing.
I only care so much about technical wizadry - I gave the graphics such a high rating due to a few key moments where the artistry and scale of things really make you go "wow". I felt the same way playing something like Uncharted 2 - and felt the exact opposite playing Dragon Age. Which is a shame, because aren't fantasy games meant to impress you with the fantastical?

Ubercuber: yes, there is way too much bloom at times. When is that fad going to pass?

The derivative/definitive paragraph: yep, totally meant that as a compliment!
 
 
 
stungaf NZGamer.com VIP VIP Silver
Posted by stungaf
On Tuesday 9 Mar 2010 4:04 PM
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9 March 2010, 02:47 PM Reply to McPhisto
I only care so much about technical wizadry - I gave the graphics such a high rating due to a few key moments where the artistry and scale of things really make you go "wow". I felt the same way playing something like Uncharted 2 - and felt the exact opposite playing Dragon Age. Which is a shame, because aren't fantasy games meant to impress you with the fantastical?

Ubercuber: yes, there is way too much bloom at times. When is that fad going to pass?

The derivative/definitive paragraph: yep, totally meant that as a compliment!
ah, cool.

given the limitations of the PSP i thought the scale and graphics of chains of olympus was amazing. i guess the demo of gow3 failed to give me the same impression.
perhaps, for me, the full version might fare better.
 
 
 
Illmatic NZGamer.com VIP VIP Gold
Posted by Illmatic
On Wednesday 10 Mar 2010 8:15 AM
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If you're worried about the visuals, Digital Foundry compare the demo scene with the same scene in the full game, there's no spoilers:

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-godofwariii-demo-vs-retail-blog-entry
 
 
 
Wozza NZGamer.com VIP VIP Gold
Posted by Wozza
On Wednesday 10 Mar 2010 12:32 PM
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Bringing down the Metacritic score lol. Thats awesome.
 
 
 
hot_shot_9
Posted by hot_shot_9
On Wednesday 10 Mar 2010 6:18 PM
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GOD I WANT IT NOW!! XD

This will have great reviews everywhere.
IGN gave a 9.3 so metacritic will be around 9.1-.5
 
 
 
SpawnSeekSlay NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
Posted by SpawnSeekSlay
On Thursday 11 Mar 2010 11:00 PM
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Gameplay looks like its there but if not repetitive like most hacknslash, is fun mucking round with different combos but even these are very finite.
Graphically wasnt that impressed with the demo, enviroments and lightning generally was good, but kratos himself up close especially looked like someone had 'dodged & burned' him harshly in photoshop
 
 
 
procion NZGamer.com VIP VIP
Posted by procion
On Friday 12 Mar 2010 7:09 PM
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Thanks for a decent review without spoilers, Noyce! I bought my ps3 anticipating God of War three. Adding to that my greek heritage makes this title even more of a must-have for me, particularly after the excellence of the first two ps2 gms. I can't wait for next week, I'm looking forward to opening Pandora's box. AND playing the first two titles in hd. Kratos: the first black greek lool
 
 
 
ChatterboxZombie
Posted by ChatterboxZombie
On Sunday 14 Mar 2010 2:08 PM
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Now with less man-skirt
 
 
 
kickitoldschool
Posted by kickitoldschool
On Monday 15 Mar 2010 7:14 AM
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*drool* curse my fortnightly pay which bars me from thy chain blade swinging awesomeness, GOW2 will have to do me for the time being, awesome review! :)
 
 
 
guido NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
Posted by guido
On Tuesday 16 Mar 2010 1:58 PM
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11 March 2010, 11:00 PM Reply to SpawnSeekSlay
Gameplay looks like its there but if not repetitive like most hacknslash, is fun mucking round with different combos but even these are very finite.
Graphically wasnt that impressed with the demo, enviroments and lightning generally was good, but kratos himself up close especially looked like someone had 'dodged & burned' him harshly in photoshop
I'm sure you've read about this already but it's good to see that there were major improvements made after the demo build including much improved lighting...
http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-godofwariii-demo-vs-retail-blog-entry
 
 
 
twisterjamz NZGamer.com VIP VIP Gold
Posted by twisterjamz
On Tuesday 23 Mar 2010 5:34 PM
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I knew this was going to be awesome before it even was released but I just freaking my copy of the game to turn up,
"AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH ZEUSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS"
 
 
 
Killjoy
Posted by Killjoy
On Tuesday 5 Jul 2011 9:49 PM
2
Only $35 at d*ck Smith until 18th July, time to grab a copy me thinks :)