Can anything stop Kratos from getting his revenge in the final chapter of the God of War series?
IT is the beginning of the end for the God of War series as the venerable PlayStation exclusive title draws to its epic conclusion.
Fans have been waiting for three long years for the final chapter of the trilogy, so let's not waste any time and get right to the review of GoW3.
As with all other GoW titles, the game starts with a major battle scene. This time it's on the cliffs of Mount Olympus as Kratos leads the Titans up to the home of the gods to kill Zeus.
The game's sheer graphical spectacle is quite a sight to behold as you fight enemies on the back of one of Titans Gaia and eventually face a showdown with Poseidon.
The story in GOW3 is more straightforward that the last two, without any unexpected twists. Kratos wants his revenge and he is going to scale all the way up Mount Olympus to do battle with the big daddy of the gods.
GOW3's high production values truly show in its graphics. The in-game graphics looks simply amazing to the point that it doesn't need to rely on any CG cutscenes to move the story along.
There's truly a high level of polish to the graphics as nearly everything looks great with crisp textures detailing every environment and characters.
Kratos looks more realistic than ever in his third outing (fourth if you count the PSP title) - his ash covered skin and battle scars never looked so good (or bad).
Complementing the great looking graphics is the constantly shifting dynamic camera angles which zooms in for best view of the action and pans out to show the great wide vistas that the game has to offer.
It is a shame though that much of what you see is limited to a fixed camera angle. We would have preferred some degree of freedom to marvel at the scenery.
The animation is also done extremely well and runs at a constant frame rate while keeping things looking natural even though there are a lot of things happening on-screen at once.
It's amazing that so many things are happening in the background - for instance, you'll see huge Titans wreaking havoc in the distance as Kratos battles his way up.
The path is still linear and with little to no exploration though the benefit is that there isn't any back tracking required as you are constantly pressed to go forward.
At times it feels like there's no end to the obstacles the gods can throw at you but the journey is definitely interesting as you explore the dark depths of the Underworld to the very top of Mount Olympus, the domain of the gods.
Tools of destruction
Kratos' quest for revenge doesn't go exactly as planned as early on in the game he is stripped of his powers and has to start (literally) from the ground up again.
Still, not all of the abilities he gained in the last game are completely gone. You will make use of various items like the Golden Fleece for deflecting attacks and Icarus' Wings for travelling up hot pockets of air.
Also, you'll eventually gather a host of new weapons along the way like the powerful Gauntlets of Cestus, electrifying Nemesis Whips and deadly Claws of Hades.
New to GOW3 are items that players can use both for finding hidden locations and in combat.
Early on you'll gain Apollo's bow which sets brambles and enemies on fire and a light emitting object for stunning foes and revealing hidden items.
Like in previous games, you collect red orbs to power up your weapons, maxing them out to unlock new deadlier moves and stronger magic attacks.
Also scattered across the game are items that increase your health, magic and item power. Most are cleverly hidden but not too difficult to locate.
Refining the formula
GOW3 isn't a major revolution in the series, but it takes many elements from the previous games and improves upon them.
The game splits evenly between combat, puzzle solving and platforming, and alternates between them to keep things interesting.
The combat system still feels fast and visceral as Kratos uses his trademark blades to cut enemies to shreds.
Dishing out devastating attacks on your foes is satisfying as the combo system and controls are well tuned.
Just as important, players have to learn the attack patterns of enemies and bosses in order to survive.
There's a steady ramp in difficulty as you start fighting multiple big enemies like cyclops and centaur at once.
Taking down larger foes during quick time events is now easier as the game places the button you need to press along the side of the screen which corresponds with the location of the button on the controller.
Interestingly, a new enemy introduced in GOW3, the Chimera, has three distinct attack patterns that changes depending on the head you are fighting.
It certainly makes for an interesting enemy to fight alongside the host of other uglies that you meet.
The challenge is much appreciated and will give veteran players a run for their money. It feels really good to survive a major encounter with a god or titan as the fight can be really tough.
Ironically, Kratos' new ability to ride on top of certain enemies, seems to be directly lifted off Electronic Art's Dante's Inferno that happens to draw inspiration from the God of War series.
Kratos is able to momentarily control enemies like a cyclops or a cereberus hound to attack enemies. Kratos can also grab smaller enemies and use them as a battering ram to smack other foes.
In between bouts of combat, blood and mayhem, there are puzzles to solve so you will need your thinking cap.
Most of the puzzles are very straightforward - you have to pull levers that are out of reach and such - though there is a very interesting puzzle in the game that involves navigating through a labyrinth.
The expectations for God of War 3 runs extremely high and it is amazing that the game doesn't disappoint.
There's definitely something interesting happening around every corner and with hardly any loading times we could easily move on to the next segment of the game seamlessly.
The campaign takes approximately nine to 10 hours to complete and once you are done you can go through the game for a second playthrough using various items used by the gods in the game.
There are also additional challenges and arena modes to tackle once you are done with the main story.
All in all, God of War 3 is all that a fan could hope for and more. An engaging story, excellent combat system and epic boss battles maker for a truly great game that no PlayStation3 gamer should be without.
Pros: Fantastic graphics, engaging combat system; epic story; interesting puzzles.
Cons: Fixed camera angle.