Fantastic visuals, captivating music and voice acting, stunning environments which seem truly endless and bucket loads of ultra-violence with a straight-forward control scheme; those are just a few things that come to mind when playing God of War 3. However, there’s only one reason why ACMA hasn’t banned it - it's just too damn good!
In the previous games, Kratos, a Spartan warrior who ascended to the ranks of Gods, was tricked into killing his own family and vowed to take down all the gods of Olympus in his quest for revenge. God of War 2 ends just as Kratos begins his attack on Mt Olympus, scaling the mounting while hitching a ride on the back of Gaia amongst other Titans.
That’s where God of War 3 (GoW) starts, smack bang in the middle of the war. As you scale the mountain, your battle against Poseidon causes Gaia to swing her arms around. This leads to some of the most insane camera angles that are too dizzying even for movies to even attempt!
GoW fits into the action hack 'n' slash genre, so while button mashing you can tear enemies up with your bare hands, use them as a battering ram or slash and stab till your inner dark side is content. If that is not enough, there is some joy to be had in ripping out Minotaur entrails or single-handedly ripping out the eye of a Cyclops. You can even manipulate some monsters to help Kratos at certain points in the game.
After defeating the bosses or certain enemies, a quick-time action scene begins and you have to press the right buttons at the right time to continue the sequence of super gory and brutal beatings. A particular sequence that really stood out was Poseidon's eye gauge, seen from the victim's point of view.
My reaction when I first saw the Titan scenes were "oh my God… of War. This is f***ing awesome!" The brutal beatings instantly made GoW the most violent game I've played in years, and I love it!
For someone who was raised on a healthy diet of gruesome movies such as Saw, I still managed to scrape some sympathy for some of the Gods while they were being beaten to a pulp by Kratos. A word of warning; this game oozes more testosterone than a roided-up wrestler in a championship match. Not recommended for the younger ones.
The environment is absolutely stunning and the graphics are rendered in real time, recreating a series of mythical areas such as the Labyrinth boxes and Chain of Balance which are beautiful to just stare at when you're not busy beheading your enemies or mutilating mythical beasts.
It is hard to believe that so much detail can be loaded on the fly without the need of loading screens. It may not sound like a big deal but the fact that there are no loading screens means that you just keep playing and playing without any interruptions, making it incredibly difficult to put the game down.
Puzzles and challenges are scattered throughout the game to keep the game-play interesting. There is even an interactive sex scene with Aphroditis (still within game context), giving Kratos a secondary job title called God of Interactive Sex Scenes!
The plot of the game is extremely straight forward and will last roughly 10 hours, give or take 2 or 3 depending on difficulty (including the repeated failures on difficult parts and occasional marathon boss battles).
Try not to expect too much from the plot. Kratos is a simple warrior who vows to take revenge on everyone and everything that stands in his way between him and Zeus, the God of Gods, and that is what he does. The story is spread thin for about 10 hours but powering up Kratos, his weapons, collecting items and trophies can help prolong the life of the game.
If you haven't played the first two games and for some reason feel like you're missing something in the story then not to worry. They've been remastered into HD for Playstation 3 in the God of War: Collection.
After completing the game, a few new features are unlocked such as extra challenges and bonus content such as making of the game and concept artwork. You can see Malcolm McDowell (better known as Mr Linderman from Heroes) and Kevin Sorbo providing voices for characters. Ironically, Sorbo cast as the voice of Hercules in GoW and also played as Hercules in the self-titled television show some 15 years ago. I couldn't help but think that the producers threw him in as an inside joke.
This game has it all - spectacular environments portrayed by a smooth and seamless no-loading game engine, unobtrusive control scheme and some enchanting music melds your mind to the game as it dishes out a controlled level of blood and guts that is never unwarranted (well, for Kratos anyway).
Despite being the last game in the story arc, the creators of the franchise claim it is not going to be the last for the franchise. GoW pushes the power of the Playstation to new heights and the expectations for the next game God of War even higher.
See GamePro for an exclusive interview with the creative team of God of War 3.
I give it 4.5 out of 5, losing only 0.5 for a weak plot and laughable dialogue which isn’t necessary for a hack 'n' slash.