The levels are now bigger and better than before thanks to the power of the PlayStation 3 and the space provided by the Blu-Ray format. The artists were always great at designing interesting and impressive looking structures and here the team has excelled as well. Going back to Hades, you see a ton of great designs that invoke both the dread of being in the land of the dead as well as the awe inspiring design that's both complex and highly detailed. Having backdrops where the action takes place such as a Titan attacking Mount Olympus of Hephaestus forging in Hades really adds to the visual immersion of the game. Sometimes I would just stand there and watch some of the things that happened in the background because they were done so well. Even when there aren't the big objects to grab your attention, the little things the team has done also make for a fun walk through the game. For example, while traversing Hades you'll see bodies fall every once in a while and hear the scream on the way down. It's a small touch but one that breathes life into the level. It's both the little and big things combined together that makes God of War III's environments so awesome. But, some of the most impressive levels do involve large set pieces and large action. Walking around on Gaia was pretty damn cool but that doesn't compare to another Titan sequence later on in the game that was one of my favorites. Santa Monica Studios did a hell of a job utilizing the power of the PlayStation 3 to bring forth large intricate levels.
Interjected in between areas of massive killings and bloodshed are puzzles that make you sit back and think a bit. I've always enjoyed the puzzle aspect of the God of War series and here you get some more with some interesting solutions. Manipulations of various environments in different areas of the level are basically what the puzzles entail but the Santa Monica team has presented you with some pretty fun brain teasers along the way. It's always a nice break away from button mashing to just sit back and figure out the sequences of what to do in order to move on to the next part of the game. The puzzles are never really that hard and the game does a good job at presenting you with all the necessary information to get through most of it such as the panning technique of the camera from one area to the next to show you where you should go. I had a lot of fun with the Garden sequence and it was one of the more unique puzzles in the game.
I know some folks don't like the quicktime events but the God of War series has thrived on them and the third game's inclusion really isn't that bad. In fact, I like the improvement on the button display when you are called to push one or two. During the times when you are asked to push a button sequence, the main PlayStation 3 buttons are displayed on the screen according to the orientation on the controller. For example, the triangle button will appear at the top of the screen when you need to press it and the X button will appear all the way at the bottom. This makes the quicktime events easier as you don't have to think as much to know which one needs to be pressed. This certainly helps those that aren't too verse in the controller or just get nervous and don't react well to the short amount of time needed to press the correct button. The main bosses in the game still rely on your doing the correct match in order to get past it but most of them have minimize the annoyance found in the previous two games. I rarely had to do a sequence more than once or twice in God of War III, which is a blessing.
The story is fun and, of course, violent filled as there's no shortage of blood and intense killings. Of the three, this one's pretty much straight forward in terms of what's going on. Sure there are some minor sub plots and so forth but this is just Kratos exacting his revenge and his story of his quest to take down his father. If you've played past games, you'll see some familiar sites and cameos from various characters. Don't expect anything too deep though. It was nice to see references back to the previous games during certain parts of God of War III. Now, the end seemed to be drawn out a bit for me and I didn't really care for the part before the ending that much. It felt a little long and unnecessary but I understand the developers trying to maximize the impact of all that's happened in the three games. The final sequence, for me, wasn't that captivating but it certainly didn't deter from the rest of the game. The journey to get there though was certainly a ton of fun with awesome cut scenes and great voice acting.
God of War always had over the top violence and it returns in high definition with God of War III. It's certainly not a game for the squeamish as such with the first two; you'll get some pretty intense and violent visuals of different types of deaths. One of the more interesting techniques introduced by the third game is the first person view of Kratos giving you a beat down. Trust me, after viewing this you'll never want to be on the receiving end of Kratos's wrath. The way you view it, it reminded me of the beginning sequence of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare where you witnessed your own execution but God of War III takes it to another level as you watch yourself get pummeled by the son of Zeus. As usual, the various decapitations, gutting, and bodies being ripped apart should satisfy those with a bloodlust for these types of things. I have to say I was a little put back initially when I saw Kratos do things such as rip out an eyeball slowly from a Cyclops or rip off the head of Helios. I still thought it looked cool though but I just felt so sorry for the victims. Credit the graphics as seeing the enemies of Kratos being torn apart never looked better and more gruesome than before.
Epic seems to be the theme though as evident just with the beginning of the game. Kratos is his ever powerful self from the second game and he has to deal with Poseidon and his watery creatures. Just in this sequence of Kratos taking out the water horse creatures features various sweeping camera angles that includes close ups and far back views of your battle on Gaia. From the first ten minutes you can see how much improved the engine is just by the seamless transitions from wide angle shots to the close ups of Kratos and back to a normal camera position. It's so impressive but you can be overwhelmed sometimes by what's happening on the screen. I mean there's so much going on at once that it's hard to concentrate on what's truly happening but the engine never skips a beat even when a great deal of things are happening on the screen all at once. There's another sequence that I wish I could talk about but seeing as I'm keeping this review as spoiler free as possible, I'll omit the names involved. I'll just say if you thought Gaia was cool, this other one was far and above the highlight of the game for me. From the beginning battle with Poseidon to the end, Santa Monica Studios just does a tremendous job at making important sequences really epic in scale.
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