Welcome to the latest in our long running, fan favorite and potentially future award winning series of exclusive blind reviews. Today we’ll be looking at God of War III, a PS3 exclusive developed by Sony’s Santa Monica studio scheduled for release on March 16th, 2010. Without further ado, or the benefit of having played even a second of the game, here are our thoughts.
God of War III: Kamp Kouncilor Kratos
As everyone knows, at the end of God of War II for the PS2 Kratos activated a super-weapon built by Archimedes, called the Mountain Fire, that killed every last living Olympic God. With his vengeance achieved and no one left to fight, Kratos is forced to take a job at a summer camp owned by Socrates to pay the bills.
Camp Nowannawigo caters to a very exclusive clientèle of Zeus’ illegitimate children. A bit of a handful for most, Kratos is able to keep the campers in line with his popular lessons in hunting, fishing, swimming, wrestling and tennis. For a time Kratos is happy, his life a cross between the prologue in 300 and one of the Bill Murray-free Meatballs sequels.
That idyllic life, swimming in the lake and playing grab ass with the female councilors in the Greek wilderness, is shattered one day when invading hordes pour over the mountains from the north and east. As Kratos discovers, hearing of the power vacuum left by the Olympians’ destruction, Norse, Hindi and even Mayan gods have marshaled their forces in an attempt to conquer the Mediterranean world.
As these factions do battle over land and worshippers, Kratos races to secure the lives of his charges. In this, the first God of War title on the PS3, the developers have leveraged the huge jump in processing powers to place him amidst enormous, pitched battles as feathered serpents, avatars and valkyries clash in the sky and blast the earth. The effect is dramatic and gorgeous, setting a new benchmark for house-guest impressment.
Taking a page out of games like Ico or Prince of Persia, Kratos is not alone on his journey. Unlike previous games, in GoW3 he has a constant companion, Socrates, whose special dialectic powers can be used to dumbfound certain enemy types. Also along for the ride is a trail of prepubecent children, survivors of the camp who Kratos must usher to safety.
Combat is mostly the same as previous entries, with the additional wrinkle of the escort mechanic. Kratos also gains the use of some new weapons inspired by his work at a summer camp. At any time, even in the middle of a combo, Kratos can switch from his signature chained blades to an archery set, a hot dog skewer or a kerchief.
The biggest difference comes from the shift in scale and the new multi-boss battles. Many levels end with Kratos and his group finding two or more gods fighting each other. Kratos must join the fray to clear the path forward. He can do this by killing every boss present to keep the area free of divine influence, or helping kill one while making a pact with the other. Often this means gaining a new ability not otherwise available, but playing favorites with any one faction can have have negative repercussions elsewhere.
It’s an interesting, if perhaps unexpected direction for the series. The rough areas in the narrative, however, are more than worth it for the epic brilliance of fighting Odin and Krishna simultaneously in the skies above Sparta. For that, and other set pieces like it, I would not hesitate to recommend God of War 3 to anyone with even a passing interest in action games.