Review: GOD OF WAR III - Not Quite Godly

Hands-On Preview: GOD OF WAR 3

God of War III

From: Sony Santa Monica, SCEA

Reviewed on: PlayStation 3 (exclusive)

Reviewed by: Lucas Siegel

Today's the big day, and yet another highly anticipated game hits shelves in this still early 2010. After playing the game, while this "God" isn't going to be the savior of video games everywhere, it will provide several hours of a mostly fun experience for mere mortals.

"God of War III" does a lot right. The basic gameplay is the same as the first two iterations. While other games have since copied this formula ad nauseum, there's something about the presentation and style added into main character Kratos's adventures that make it unique. And oh, what a presentation. Kratos looks incredible, his glowing weapons add incredible sheen to everything around him, and his attacks are flashier (and gorier) than ever.

The boss battles are the absolute reason for playing this game. Fighting against gods and titans has been done in the first two, but never before like this. The timed button-press sequences are for the most part much improved in this iteration, with the position of the cue on screen mimicking the position of the button on the controller. If you need to press Square, then it will show up on the left side of the screen, just as it's the left button on the controller. This is helpful for both being able to focus more on the action and for reducing the frustration of a missed press in the heat of battle. Outside the controls of these sequences, the scale and, again, presentation are what stand out. With boss battles that span the length of a level or use a Titan's body as the battlefield, take to the air and water and ground, have you swinging, climbing, dodging and attacking in equal measure, the boss sequences will never be called boring by any gamer. The first god you take on has a particularly interesting moment (Slight Design Spoiler) when you are still pounding on the god as Kratos,  but viewing the battle through the eyes of the god. Unique bits like that are scattered throughout the game, lending a completely different feel from anything seen before. Innovation is key with these action games, and Sony shows they're still up to the task. The graphics, sound, overall ambiance, and crazy mini-bosses, plus new weapons, new magic, and insane levels to explore all add to the experience as well.

With all that praise, why the mixed opening paragraph? Unfortunately, some of the problems that plagued the first two games just haven't been fixed. The jump button doesn't always respond when you press it, especially on second jumps, which are absolutely crucial throughout the game. Usually, that tends to happen after you've already been through 2 or 3 minutes of sequences since a checkpoint, meaning you have to jump through those hoops again. This frustration with control issues sometimes cuts what would easily be a 3-4 hour gaming session to under an hour. While the boss sequences are for the most part unique and the gameplay is fun, the repetitivenes of the gameplay will put off some gamers. Jump, hack, slash, push stone object into position, repeatis not how some gamers would describe several hours of their day. It's clear here that the standard action and puzzle solving is all a means to get to the next boss battle, in more than the obvious ways, and that's fine, but still noticable.

Overall, this game is still a must-own for PS3 owners that dig action games. Note that little caveat though; if you're not a fan of games like Dante's Inferno, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and of course the first two God of War games, you'll appreciate the innovations in boss battles, but the inbetween won't do anything to sway you. For fans of this franchise, you'll recognize some of the same old issues, but have enough new features and some really great polish to make this a satisfying conclusion to this chapter in Kratos's life. And even those who may get frustrated playing some parts of this game will enjoy watching others; it is truly something to behold. "God of War III" may not be sitting on the throne of Mount Olympus for eternity, but it definitely has moments that are mythic.

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