Friday, July 23, 2010

Game Review: God of War 3

God of War 3

Skull-Crushing Finale

Playstation 3, 2010

Developer: SCE Studios Santa Monica

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

Time to Complete: 7-9 hours

The finale to the God of War trilogy is, as of this writing, the best-selling game of 2010. I think we can all agree that video games are more sexual and violent now than they used to be. There are exceptions, like the 1989 Japanese Famicom classic Hashimoto the Sexy Octopus and the Girl's Locker Room of Super Peril Gaiden, which was banned in every country except Japan, Thailand, and Las Vegas.

God of War 3 is the final (probably) game in the series, and the installment that makes the leap to the newfangled Playstation 3. As a result, I was expecting Sony to pull out all the stops for this one and bring us a pretty amazing game. Is it? No, but it could have been. Now, before any God of War fans dust off their trusty and well-worn bludgeoning devices, let me explain.

First off, the combat system. It's the same combat system from the first two games, nothing new or particularly inventive here. The spells are less appealing in usage than those of the earlier games, and I found myself going back to them relatively rarely. A seemingly unnecessary limitation is that you can only use spells with the weapon they came with, rather than any spell at any time as in previous games. Also, the weapons themselves are less appealing or inventive than previous games. You get more of them than any other game in the series, a total of four; yet of those four weapons, three are whip chains with different-looking and different-colored ends. Yes, three of the four weapons are essentially the same thing in terms of how they control and feel. The fourth weapon is a very cool set of punching gloves that at least adds some variety to the game and something new to the series itself. I just wish they could have differentiated the other three weapons more.

Dynasty Warriors: Greek Edition

The graphics are incredible. They blow away the first two games, and for that matter they blow away most other games as well. The characters are far, far better looking than in the first two games, with outstanding levels of detail and depth. Case in point, the mostly-naked Aphrodite, who manages to actually be quite attractive compared to most of the semi-creepy women in this series. I couldn't help but give the designers props for managing to make such a seductive character. This game puts its own spin on the Threesome Minigame to make it all about Kratos and Aphrodite, and I would say Kratos still wins. It's fitting in a way that Aphrodite is pretty much the only deity Kratos doesn't kill. Characters aren't the only major step-up in the looks department. Indeed, the graphical detail throughout the game is off the charts, as the environments are beautiful and the bosses are amazing looking. The graphics are easily the high point of the game. The dark humor is also still in effect, as our hero finds himself carrying around the severed head of the sun god and using it as a flashlight for most of the game.

Speaking of the bosses, there are some incredible fights to be had here. Two impression-leaving fights in particular are Hermes and Poseidon, but all of the bosses have something to make them stand out. The fight with Poseidon has you fighting the massive water god above an ocean, while the Hermes fight has you chasing the fleet-footed, fiery-haired fiend around the upper parts of a city in true swashbuckling style.

Hades, the worst prison cellmate ever

Unfortunately, the culminations of these boss fights are button-mashing brutality-fests. After an epic, breathtaking battle, Kratos corners his foe and proceeds to administer some sort of lengthy finisher in graphic detail, consisting of something like punching his fallen enemy until their face caves in, or severing all their limbs. The final battle is particularly ridiculous, as it ends with Kratos generally doing the same boring punch-punch-knee combo on the near-defenseless boss' face over and over again for an unnecessarily long span of time while the screen itself slowly gets covered with blood. It's almost like the game becomes a caricature of itself in that moment.

These finishers tend to be drawn-out to the point of being awkward for onlookers and even the player, and I don't know why they're necessary except to increase sales among teenage boys and mental patients. The other two games in the series generally had Kratos finish off his enemies with a quick impale or something along those lines, which is bloody enough and fits his character. The third game just goes too far with it, but Sony has to chase that almighty dollar. I'm not some sort of anti-gore peacenik, but there comes a point when I have to step back from the game and really wonder what the hell their point is.

Neck sinew: Part of any balanced breakfast.

This new level of gore isn't an "unfortunately" for some people. I'd go so far as to say the majority of the current "gamer" population probably thinks this kind of thing is pretty rad. For that matter, it's likely most gamers reading the previous paragraph will disagree with it, or will point out that games have been gory for a while. It's simply a matter of opinion, and my opinion is that God of War 3 lowers the bar for what level of gore we consider acceptable in a game. If this is the direction that mainstream gaming is going in, then count me out.

In closing, God of War is what many consider the defining action game series of the 00's. It starts strong, hits its stride with the second installment, and then meanders to a bloody conclusion. It's too bad that Sony felt the need to "extreme" this game up the way they did, because without all the gratuity it's actually quite good; as I said before some of the boss fights are unreal in their greatness. Still, at the end of the day, this is a game that left me feeling kind of dirty for bothering to finish the series.

Rating: 6.7 out of 10


  1. Though I wouldn't call myself "a part of the majority gamer population," I think God Of War 3, as a spectacle of violence, gore and monsters, and as a game that makes players feel badass, is a real acchievement for Sony.

    Besides that though (and fun gameplay and spectacle go a long way.) I think you're right. The game has little to offer. God Of War's story leaves a lot to be desired and Kratos has got to be the least sympathetic character of all time.

    I agree with you that this is probably the defining game of the 2000s. And that is kind of sad. We live in a time where more violent, more epic and more intense is always better. Gone are the days of "less is more."

    But, again, I can't front like God Of War isn't fun.From the little I've played It's a fun game. But, it's the epitome of "mindless fun."

  2. All I have to say is that even with the broad, vague outline of what an "action game" is, it still has to take a backseat to what the actual defining game (series) of the 2000s is, Grand Theft Auto. ...well, for the first half of the decade. For the second half that title goes to Wii Sports.