Short Version: God of War 3 is an exciting game with jaw dropping visual sequences but, in the end, a number of gameplay elements suffer as a result of the title’s lofty ambitions.
Game Rant reviews God of War 3
God of War 3 is one of the most highly anticipated games of 2010. It’s been nearly three years since we last joined Kratos on the Spartan’s inexhaustible journey for revenge and the third and final title offers the largest, most complicated, hack and slash battles ever put into an action game.
The result is a title that is both awe-inspiring and frustrating as hell. In short, while the visuals and ambitions of God of War 3 are certainly epic, the scale can, at times, cause the game to over extend its reach.
In terms of gameplay, God of War 3 offers the fast-paced, button mashing frenzy of the first two titles but with a few refinements. There are four primary “weapons” in the game, and this time, each is coupled with a particular magic power that evolves as players upgrade the weapon. The weapons are all interesting, in theory, though two of them are primarily the Blades of Exile with different features and coloration — only the Nemean Cestus offers a new and diversified approach to combat — i.e. up close and personal fisticuff brawling.
One simple, but immensely helpful improvement is the ability to switch weapons mid-combo which is especially useful on the harder difficulty settings (when facing a room full of enemies with diverse attacks and weaknesses). Also, in order to encourage players to take advantage of the support-weaponry Kratos collects throughout the game, Santa Monica Studio has added a new “item” mechanic – separate from the more traditional “magic” powers. The “item” bar quickly regenerates, allowing Kratos virtually unlimited use of weaponry such as the Bow of Apollo, among others. Ultimately, the “item” mechanic provides Kratos with a greater range of combat choices – options that don’t have to be used quite as strategically as the much stronger “magic” powers but still add a welcome bit of diversity to the gameplay.
In addition many of the items function as Metroid-like keys to areas you were not able to explore initially — i.e. the Bow of Apollo can shoot charged arrows that burn away wooden bramble blocking a path or covering a secret area. Unlocking hidden secrets in the earlier areas is definitely satisfying; though, the amount of times that Kratos goes back to previous locales is surprisingly frequent and, given the sheer size of Mount Olympus, this seemed like a missed opportunity. On a related note, a number of the environments could be considered the most detailed scenery in gaming history; however, others appear generic and lackluster.
A lot of hype has been centered around the shifting environments, where Kratos is climbing or walking on the arms of a titan, these sections live up to the epic and cinematic scale the game was attempting to achieve but this is also where the gameplay, at times, makes for an over-stimulating mishmash of visuals that lack clear cues or goals. Ueda’s Shadow of the Colossus is certainly an inspiration here — with Kratos making his way along a creature that is in the midst of its own motions but God of War 3 lacks the careful and deliberate gameplay featured in Colossus.
Additionally, all of these movements are scripted – even though the gameplay feels dynamic, it’s not time sensitive; rather, the shifting Titans take their cues from goals the player achieves — i.e. a Titan, or other environment, only shifts position when Kratos is done killing a certain number of enemies or inflicts a predetermined amount of damage on a boss. There’s nothing wrong with it, but there’s no real surprise to the fights and players who were hoping for combat that altered gameplay physics in real-time may feel a bit letdown.
As I alluded to earlier, the grandiose scale of the combat scenarios often leaves players fumbling to figure out what to do. The fast-paced action, or at least the impression of fast-paced action, pushes the player to keep moving — but the game doesn’t always provide clear goals — and at times confuses players by prematurely throwing an option into the mix. This may seem like a small point but the game is filled with convoluted situations like this — frustrating moments that could have been easily avoided with clearer objectives.