In the works for three years, God of War III has finally arrived for the PlayStation 3 as one of the most anticipated games for the Sony console. I really, really enjoyed the first two even with some flaws and some of the more frustrating sequences like climbing up the wall in Hell with the rotating blades. Now, we have what might be the final chapter in the saga of Kratos so has the wait been worth it and is it a worthy end to the trilogy?
God of War III takes place right after the end of the last game. For those that don't remember, at the end of the second game Athena sacrificed her life to save Zeus as Kratos was just about to do him in. Kratos learns that Zeus is his father and that he's on the vicious cycle of the son killing the father. Zeus had hoped to break the cycle by killing Kratos but it didn't happen. Kratos goes back in time to bring the Titans to his time for one last battle against Zeus and the Gods of Olympus. The end begins with the assault on Mount Olympus by the Titans and that's where God of War III starts right up as you approach the top of Mount Olympus on Gaia.
God of War III doesn't muck with the gameplay too much but does add some nice new features. The controls stay pretty much stay the same so those that played the first two will be able to jump into this game without any learning curve. For those that love the massive combos that can come about, God of War III delivers in spades. Swinging from areas with the help of your blades is back and those little points on the map that have that all too familiar white glow show you the way. So let's get to some of the additions to the series.
A few new weapons show up for Kratos to play around with and one of those is Cestus. If you played the demo, then you know these lion shaped gauntlets taken from Hercules can be pretty devastating. The Cestus is also used for other purposes as it's not just a powerful weapon to dispatch enemies. Certain portions of the game as well as certain enemies will need the Cestus to be used on in order to get past the obstacle. Apollo's bow, earned in Hades, lets you shoot fire infused arrows that can also serve as a tool to burn down brambles and open up new areas to explore. Hades' Chains are similar to your blades but offer up different combos and moves. A thing you'll notice right away is that your blades' light attack can be used to break apart objects in the world for experience orbs pretty easily but the Hades' Chains won't hit until the very last part of the light combo and even then it seems like it always misses a few things. Also, the spell brought forth by the Hades' Chains allows you to summon up dead souls of various monsters to attack your foe. All the weapons can be upgradeable like in the previous two games unlocking new moves and special abilities. Leveling up the Hades' Chains for example unlocks different souls to conjure up. The final weapon is also similar the blades and chains but is infused with an electrical charge that can do some massive damage. While the leveling system isn't anything complex, it does add to rewarding those that generate high combos or do a lot of exploring for chests and destructible objects with a quicker road to more powerful attacks.
You do retain some of the items you picked up from the past games such as the Golden Fleece and Icarus Wings to allow you to glide to certain areas or fly up and away with the help of a vent. You'll also pick up new items such as the boots for Hermes and if you've played the demo, Helios's head. Helios's head is actually pretty useful in terms of finding hidden items, lighting the way, and important in the middle portion of the game against a very powerful enemy.
Added to God of War III is the ability to ride certain monsters. The demo offered a glimpse of this where you can hop onto the back of a Cyclops and use his massive attacking ability on your foes. It's kind of a fun dynamic that's explored in a few other areas as well. A more unconventional way to ride a monster involves the harpies in the game. Certain chasms can only be traversed by aggravating one of these flying monsters as to lure her to you, jump up and hold onto her legs, and stab her repeatedly to make her fly to a certain area. You've got a small window of time to ride the harpies so you might need to hop onto another harpy in mid-air to make it all the way across. What I like about the feature is that you're in a fight against the steed to do your bidding against its will. While you pretty much have control over the creature, you'll see a little bit of resistance as the beast tries to fight against your control. You don't do it too much but it does appear in a few instances in the game.
Also featured in the demo is the flying sequence where you travel at fast speeds while avoiding beams, falling rocks, and other debris. It happens a few times in the game and it came close to being one of those frustrating sequences to experience after the second time. It's kind of cool to do the first time but can wear a little thin towards the end. Luckily, it only took me a few tries to get through them but it was close to being one of God of War annoying aspects that I disliked about in the first two.
Thankfully, the annoying sequences in God of War III are kept to a minimum and I never spent more than a few minutes in a puzzle area or completing a sequence of events. There aren't many swimming sequences but at least when you are in those areas you don't have to worry about breathing. Also, there's been improvement in moving large items. In previous games, you had to kick it to quickly move the item across the board. Now, if you are pushing an item instead of dragging it, you can build up speed to move the object in place faster. I'm glad Santa Monica streamlined that and also didn't put in any timed puzzles where you had to move an item to a certain area in a fixed amount of time.
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