Play it NOW!: God of War 3
In God of war 3 Kratos is angry. So angry, he has not only decided to kill dear old dad, but to kill everyone on his road to revenge. I want to be clear and say up front, I have played the first two games and was a fan of Kratos. While his methods were a bit harsh, they were justified in my opinion. Now, after the trilogy's conclusion I feel duped. It's the same feeling I had after watching Star Wars episode 1. Far too much explanation in the end, for the trilogy as a whole. In fact, from what I understand about Kratos now, I only have pity for him. Everything besides the story is exactly what you would expect from God of War. This is two sided though; with so much development, many expected more changes, than similarities. Combat still feels tight and responsive. The new grab technique helps to eliminate the distance between you and your enemies. Combined with a button tap mid combo to change weapons and the thousand hit combo trophy almost seems possible. I also like the new grab technique, which lets you use a weaker enemy as a shield and truck through your opponents. Despite all this, variety is somewhat lacking. Some complaints I read note that 2 of the 3 weapons were too similar to the blades. I disagree that this is a shortcoming, since in my experiences, past weapons have been lacking in quality when compared to the blades. What I want is more blades, and new ways they are utilized. The blades are what define GOW and these new variations add enough different combo elements, while still maintain the feel of GOW combat foundations. With the magic tied to specific weapons, it can incentivize using the various blades. I also really dug the Cestus, although requiring that weapon and only that weapon to defeat specific enemies began to piss me off towards the end. Enemies do feel like more of the same, but the caveat is there are more of them on screen. It does become pretty difficult to fight gorgons, harpies, minotaurs and the undead, all at once.
That could be because I am a masochist and chose to play through on Titan mode. In retrospect, it may have been a bad idea seeing as I died about 200+ times. Whatever though, it's finished now and besides the challenge of the gods, I don't plan a second play through. Which brings me to another topic, the godly treasures. Much like some unlockables from past games, there are a number of treasures and outfits which decrease some elements of difficulty for multiple play throughs. Now the catch which pissed me off is that in GOW 3 they can only be used in difficulties as high as the level you have already completed. WTF! Sorry Sony, but i think if I found it and beat it on the highest possible difficulty (at the time), I should be able to use those whenever I want. Sure, turn off the trophies, but keeping me from using the unlocks with the recently unlocked difficulty is a bad way to do collectables.
As for the graphics, expectations were already running hot after the E3 demo and the various impressions on the level of gore exposed. The level of detail on Kratos is incredible and he has to be the most visually impressive chracter in games to date. The ash on his body almost looks like it is painted over his skin. The blood from your enemies is literally covering you from head to toe as you rip through your opponents. Speaking of ripping through your opponents, when you defeat the bosses in GOW 3, you do not kill them. You grotesquely murder them in the most shameful way possible. The graphical fidelity only helps to emphasize this even more. The camera work is also impressive, in it's sense of scale. The first 30 minutes is a balls to the wall roller coaster ending with the death of a God and I felt a great satisfaction. It would be short lived though, as the level design and camera work only manages to come back to that style a few more times and the rest of the game is stuck in it's old trappings. Hit this switch, open this door, move through temples, caves and various parts of hell. Voice acting is meh. Kratos is yelling THE ENTIRE GAME! Which really doesn't help anyone trying to take his character seriously. Also, Kevin Sorbo reprises voicework for one of his more famous TV roles. Loved that. And otherwise sound design was good.
There are just a few little things I need to rant about before this is wrapped up. Character animations are flat. Uncharted 2 really needed to drop by and give some tips because the shimy along ledges looks terrible and I can't understand why. Also, what is up with the double jump? This has been a problem since the first game and it still is! Please fix this, because I don't understand why this guy has wings but can still drop like a rock. Alright, I will stop. The game is still a ton of fun and production values are high. I have to say, if you are going to buy a 3rd person action game in 2010, you should consider God of War 3.
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*Note: all images are courtesy of google image search and www.Penny-Arcade.com