Check out our video review:
The first God of War set the foundation for a franchise that would prove to be extremely popular. Players were given the opportunity to spill the blood of mythological creatures in ancient Greece. The bloodshed would continue in God of War II and Chains of Olympus let players experience the fun and violent action on a portable system. God of War II ended on a cliffhanger which meant Kratos’ war on Olympus was not over. Developed by Santa Monica Studio and published by Sony Computer Entertainment, God of War III was released for PlayStation 3 in March, 2010. A remastered version titled God of War III Remastered was released for PlayStation 4 in July, 2015. For this review, I played the Remastered version.
Continuing from where God of War II left off, Kratos and the Titans are ascending Mount Olympus to kill the Gods. Zeus knocks them off and Kratos falls into the River Styx where he loses all of his powers again. But that doesn’t stop him and he continues his quest for vengeance. Raging with fury, Kratos leaves a trail of death and destruction in his wake. One of the things I really liked about the story is that almost every character is an asshole. Kratos is an asshole, Zeus is an asshole, the other Gods are assholes, and the Titans are assholes. Kratos was always an asshole and in God of War III, he’s extremely ruthless. The voice acting is on par with the previous games and the voice cast includes some celebrity talent like Rip Torn, Kevin Sorbo, Malcolm McDowell, and Clancy Brown.
As expected, Kratos can walk, run, jump, double jump, block, evade, glide with the Icarus Wings, and repel attacks. He can grab enemies and objects and push objects much quicker this time around. He uses weapons and magic abilities to combat opponents and one difference compared to the previous games is that magic abilities are now tied to weapons. This means you can’t switch magic abilities on the fly independently of weapons which I didn’t really care for in the beginning but I got used to it over time. The camera system from the previous games is carried over and, for the most part, succeeds in making the entire experience feel cinematic. Also carried over is Quick Time Events, a series staple. One thing I like about the quick time events in this game is that many of the button prompts are accompanied by a flash of white on the sides of the screen where the prompts appear. As a result, they stand out more.
Veterans of the series should know what to expect going into God of War III. You progress through areas by killing enemies and solving puzzles. You can power up your weapons and items with the red orbs which are acquired by slaughtering foes or by finding them in the environments. Powering up a weapon also affects the magic ability tied to it. Kratos can perform a variety of moves with each weapon and chain attacks together to form combos. The bigger the combo, the more red orbs you earn. Using magic abilities drains through your magic which can be replenished by blue orbs and taking hits drains through your health which can be replenished by green orbs. In addition to your health and magic meters is your item power meter. This drains when you use items and automatically replenishes.
God of War III takes Kratos’ powers away yet again because game design. This is so the player can feel like Kratos is growing and becoming more powerful as they progress. After Kratos loses all his powers, Athena gives him the Blades of Exile and they’re just like the blades from previous games. They come with the Army of Sparta ability where Kratos can summon his exiled Spartan brothers to protect him. The next weapon he acquires is the Claws of Hades and they come with the Soul Summon ability. Kratos can summon different souls to help him during combat and you can actually choose which type of soul to summon which I thought was pretty cool. My favorite new weapon is the Nemean Cestus; two gauntlets that can deliver powerful blows and destroy Onyx. They’re extremely satisfying to use and come with the Nemean Roar ability where Kratos will slam the ground causing waves of magic to harm enemies. The last weapon Kratos will acquire is the Nemesis Whip which is a pair of chains with three claw-like daggers at the ends of them. They can electrocute enemies and come with the Nemesis Rage ability. Kratos will shock surrounding enemies with a blast of electric energy.
You will acquire some relics on your journey and the one worth noting is the Blade of Olympus because it grants you the Rage of Sparta ability. You fill up a meter by killing enemies and can activate it any time. Kratos will wield the Blade of Olympus and use it to slay enemies. There are various items you will acquire and can use during combat, to solve puzzles, and to help you find secrets. You can use the Bow of Apollo to fire arrows at enemies and charge up your shots to fire flaming arrows. The Head of Helios can be used to blind enemies and locate secrets and the Boots of Hermes let you sprint into foes and run on certain walls.
God of War III features a large roster of mythological creatures to kill. Most of them should be familiar if you’re a series veteran and killing them is still fun and feels more brutal than it did in the past. You can mount a Cyclops and Cerberus and make them attack other enemies which is awesome. One of my favorite new mechanics is ability to pull Wraiths out of the ground. You can use your Blades to hang onto Harpies and force them to carry you to specific locations before destroying them. You can rip enemies in half or use them as battering rams, eviscerate Centaurs, impale a Satyr with its own staff, and rip out the eye of a Cyclops. One new standout enemy is the Chimera; part lion, part goat, part snake. You’ll get to rip its snake tail off and shove its horn into its face. God of War III doesn’t hold back on the violence and gore. It’s glorious.
There are multiple difficulty modes and I played on God which equates to Normal. The game throws more and tougher enemy types at you the further you progress and if you keep powering up your weapons and items, you should be more than capable of dealing with any threats. Surviving encounters still relies on knowing when to strike, block, and evade. You need to know your enemies and what they’re capable of. The same goes for bosses, most of which are big and make for epic looking battles. God of War III is a spectacle filled with numerous set pieces and exciting moments. Many of the set pieces are scripted and filled with quick time events but they are exciting to watch. You’ll get to battle enemies on moving Titans, giant cubes, and fly up and down a giant chain while avoiding obstacles. These all make for a very memorable experience.
God of War III takes the player through an excellent variety of locations including the River Styx, a palace, citadel, caverns, tomb, labyrinth, and Poseidon’s Chamber among other areas. You’ll want to explore every nook and cranny for secrets. Chests can be found all over the environments. Some contain Gorgon Eyes and Phoenix Feathers and just like in previous games, collecting enough of each permanently increases your health and magic meters respectively. You can also find Minotaur Horns and collecting enough of these permanently increases your item power meter. You will have to solve many puzzles and avoid hazards like spikes, blades, and fire. Most of the areas are linear with branching paths usually leading to secrets. If you take the time to look around, you’ll come across Godly Possessions which can only be used after beating the game and grant Kratos special abilities.
There is additional content to unlock in God of War III. Beating the game unlocks videos, costumes, challenges, and an additional difficulty mode. The Challenge of Olympus is essentially another game mode and completing all of the challenges unlocks the Combat Arena where you can fight enemies of your choosing. Some of the challenges can be really tough and I found several of them to be more frustrating than fun. These are all trial and error and will test your skills. The Remastered version also includes The Challenge of Exile which is an additional series of challenges, originally released as downloadable content.
Compared to the original game, the Remastered version isn’t a major step up in terms of its presentation but it does run at full 1080p and 60 fps. It also comes with a photo mode. God of War III is the best looking game in the series up to this point. It’s much more colorful than the previous entries and this remaster looks crisp. The amount of detail in the game and sense of scale is impressive. I appreciated the little things like steam coming out of a Minotaur’s snout, rats running around the environments, the giant Titans moving around in the backgrounds, and the game does a good job at making me feel like I was navigating around small portions of massive areas. The gore effects look much better resulting in a more visceral experience and during a battle, Kratos’ body will get covered in blood which I thought was a neat little detail. The sound effects are excellent with satisfying sounds of strikes and slashes and nice squishy sounds when enemies are ripped apart. Kratos will grunt and enemies will growl, roar, and screech during combat. The soundtrack is full of orchestral tunes that make encounters feel more dramatic and intense. The music compliments the action and camera work nicely, adding to that cinematic effect the game is going for. On the technical side, I did play this on a PS4 Pro and the game ran smooth. The only issue I encountered was some visual oddities which I’ve read are a result of the PS4 Pro’s “Boost Mode” being enabled.
God of War III is by far my favorite game in the series up to this point. I really enjoyed the pacing, set pieces, and combat. The improved visuals over its predecessors make the action look and feel so much better and more brutal. It retains the same fun style of gameplay and doesn’t hold back on the violence. I also think God of War III ends things on a high note. As you probably know, the series does continue but as far as the Greek mythology portion of the franchise is concerned, future prequels included, I think God of War III wraps things up nicely. The plot here is really a tale of death and destruction. The end result of deceit, defiance, fear, and anger expressed through violence. I like how the whole “fuck you” attitude is consistent throughout the entire experience. With almost every character acting like an asshole, justified or not, I couldn’t help but periodically laugh at the whole situation. It’s insane but ends up making for excellent gameplay and a lot of cool scenarios and encounters.
I played through God of War III on PS3 years ago and this was my first time playing through the Remastered version and I would absolutely recommend either version to fans of the series and action games. If you’ve completed it on PS3, I can’t say there’s any major reason to play through the Remastered version. Nothing significant was added. It looks a little better but its the same exact game. But if you’ve never played it at all, then definitely check out Remastered. Ultimately, God of War III is an awesome blood soaked experience.