God of War III
Rated M for Mature
Released March 16 2010
Published by Sony
WHAT IT IS: God of War III presents the continuing adventures of the worlds most unlikable video game character. Theres no question that Kratos, the Ghost of Sparta, is one of the hugest, shiniest dickheads in the history of fake history. At least he stars in one of the best action games youll find on any system.
The PS3 debut for Sonys flagship series is almost exactly what youd expect: a souped-up, prettified blitz through the standard God of War tropes. Its still a three-dimensional action-adventure concerned primarily with slaughtering as many enemies as possible. The occasional puzzles and light platforming return, as do the controversial Quick-Time Events. These arent complaints, but statements of fact. Another fact: God of War III is not what we in the biz call a bad game.
Review and trailer after the jump.
WHATS GOOD: Superb presentation has always been God of War's main hallmark, and with the power of the PlayStation 3 the series looks and feels better than ever. The typical God of War visual set-pieces are now so beautiful theyd pop every single one of Arguss eyes. The massive size of various gods and Titans is more overwhelming with the clarity of hi-def. Monsters swarm around you in intimidatingly large numbers. The combat can be slightly mindless but it never gets boring thanks to a variety of enemies, weapons, and attack types. Theres so much gore that it comes close to comedy, but it looks good and its in keeping with the violence of the myths the game builds from. God of War III amplifies everything memorable about the series.
The familiar story sees Kratos searching for revenge against an epic mythological backdrop that takes you from the depths of the Underworld to the seat of Zeuss power. Youll storm Mt. Olympus with an army of Titans, graphically dismember various deities, and even rip the head off the Sungod himself (uh, spoiler alert?) The storys nothing more than an excuse to travel through some gorgeous scenery and kill everything you see; as such, its not just a throwback to the first two God of Wars, but to basically every video game made before, say, 1995.
WHATS NOT SO GOOD: I dont think its possible for a game to have a less likable main character. If nihilistic antiheroes were SUVs, Kratos would be a Hummer; hes an easily screwed up idea taken to a garish extreme. Hes so over-the-top in his clichéd badassitude, with a goatee, tribal tats, and guttural croaks, that you almost hope hes a parody. It's hard to sympathize with a protagonist who wantonly massacres innocents and whose actions wreak havoc on all on Greece. Also, the game sometimes spits out too many enemies at once, slowing the action down into a boring slog. It can also be difficult hitting a double jump off a cliff, for some reason. That leads to the occasional cheap and infuriating death.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO: God of War III is a no-brainer for fans of the series or action games in general. It also requires almost no brains to enjoy, as its about as thoughtful as a Frank Frazetta pin-up. If you cant enjoy big dumb angry action, at least when its as well-done as God of War III, you probably dont play video games, anyway.
Also, I just want to thank Chris Dahlen for taking a bit of pressure off me. I had never played the first two God of War games before poking around the PS3 collection as prep-work for God of War III. How could I be upfront about that fact without immediately ruining my credibility with whatever random people read Culture Surfings video game reviews? As I was finishing this review, though, Dahlens piece about being a thirtysomething video game critic and journalist who had never played Super Mario Bros. appeared over at the AV Club. Thats like a music critic whos never heard the Beatles. Im now free to write about God of War III without shame. Thanks, Chris!
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