God of War 3 Review

A lot of extreme words get thrown around when discussing God of War 3. Tapping Greek mythology, it fashions a classic heroic tragedy following Kratos, the Spartan warrior and bastard son of Zeus, on his quest of vengeance to kill his father for the Gods' meddling in his life. The prior two installments of the series on PlayStation 2 lived up to the grandeur of this setting with action that set a standard for both their beauty and brutality. Accordingly, expectations have soared to monumental proportions and God of War 3 has come to be looked to as a defining game for the power of the PlayStation 3 hardware and the quality of game that it can be used to create.


It succeeds at both. The screenshots show how good God of War 3 looks, but its artistry goes beyond a static image. At times, the camera pulls way out to convey the necessary sense of scale when taking on Gods and Titans, yet there's Kratos, a tiny figure on the screen, still flawlessly executing his intricate combat moves. And the scene doesn't just stay at an ultra-wide view. The designers add the dramatic element to the scale by also bringing the camera in extremely close, where the astonishing detail in his character model imprints a vivid image.

The entire game similarly reflects this use of a full dynamic range to achieve a powerful moment-to-moment pace. Nowhere is this more evident than in the rhythm of the grand, set-piece battles. While they still use the "Simon Says" mechanic for cinematic parts of the fight, they're shorter, and better interspersed throughout the battle. As a result they move along better and when the climactic moments do come, they're a thrill to be savored as opposed to chore to complete.

While God of War 3 is definitely a combat first game, it includes plenty of moments of wonder more familiar to adventure games. Not only does the journey to reach Zeus on Mount Olympus take a varied route, the game takes advantage of these opportunities to introduce new mechanics that keep it from becoming a monotonous grind. There are grand constructs to be solved, perilous cliff routes to be traversed, powerful air currents to be soared on, and, yes, a bed to be conquered; these all dovetail smoothly within the progression of the game.

Above all, there's an overriding sense of how fun it is simply to control Kratos. I powered-up his classic chain blades first, but all four of the weapons he eventually collects have a rewarding progression of combos to master. They're useful, too, because combat in the game is deftly adjusted to different skill levels. This last touch of balance cements God of War 3 as not only one of the early standouts of 2010, but a game everyone can take home and have a great time playing.