wess's God of War III (PlayStation 3) review

Vengeance will be his.

We watched as Kratos, the Spartan general, became the agent of Ares, and in his angry blood lust, killed his own family.  Then we saw him, angrier than ever before, destroy Ares and take his place as the God of War.  Kratos was still angry, however, and started smashing cities, and when Zeus tried to kill him, Kratos became, well.... angry.  God of War 3, as you might guess, is about Kratos being very angry.
 
Anyone reading this review should probably remember that the second God of War ended with super-mega-angry Kratos riding Gaia up Mt. Olympus, leading an assault by the titans against the gods.  That's how God of War 3 begins, and it doesn't end until Kratos has carved a bloody path all around and through the mountain.  Everything you'd expect from a God of War game returns - crazy combo-based combat, over the top violence and gore, action command mini-games, and, of course, one seriously pissed of Spartan demigod.  All these aspects that made God of War such a big hit in the first game are still well done, and arguably done better, but the fact is that very little has changed since the 2005 debut besides graphical quality.  Probably GOW3's biggest problem is just the fact that it feels pretty dated and predictable.
 
Something that really threw me about this game was how the pacing of it didn't really mesh with the story.  I feel like at the point at which Kratos can kill a god with his bare hands, he shouldn't be spelunking through random caves fighting skeletons and pushing blocks around.  That is, of course, the standard formula of having sequences between boss fights that involve platforming and/or combat with lesser minion monsters, but really, Kratos should be above that by now.  It would have been nice to see this finale title try to push the envelope a little bit, and maybe break out of the formulaic mold and find something that more suited the story and characters they have developed.
 
All that complaining aside, this game can still be totally fun to play in all its visceral glory, and it certainly has the scale and polish that a game of this franchise deserves.  Some of the reworking done to your combos make combat feel better, and the secondary weapons in this game are actually fun and practical, rather than being gimmicky and worthless.  Part of that is due to the fact that magic and weapons are no longer separate, as each weapon has a correlated magic attack that levels up with it.  This combined with the fact that you can easily upgrade all 4 weapons completely, and switch between them on the fly during combat, makes it feel a good bit better than how the first 2 games handeled your arsenal.  The downside is that 2 of the 3 secondary weapons look and function fairly similarly to the standard blades, which just screams of a lack of creativity.
 
I'll refrain from spoiling any of the story, but I was pretty indifferent to it.  I did not enjoy what GOW2 did in regards to plot, and feel like the 3rd just takes it farther in that direction.  Kratos' undying rage just becomes almost comical to me at a certain point, because I've totally lost track of what he's angry about, and at who.  I pretty much just convinced myself that he's angry at everything just because he wants to be, and that lack of understanding causes a dangerous lack of sympathy for the protagonist, which for me became a problem nearing the end of the game, when all of a sudden I felt like I was supposed to feel bad for him again.
 
Overall, I feel like God of War 3 is the game everyone expected, but not the game I wanted.  I feel like this review has been extremely negative, so I do want to mention that I did enjoy playing this game, and there are no glaring reasons why anyone else shouldn't enjoy it either.  I just feel like the God of War series deserved a bigger send off, hopefully one that would change the gaming industry as much as the first God of War did.

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