I pre-ordered God of War 3 over a year before it was even truly announced. I got the early demo, and played it about 100 times. I bought God of War Collection to recall the events prior to the final part of the Trilogy. I thoroughly enjoyed the PSP game Chains of Olympus, but couldn't complete Ghost of Sparta thanks to my PSP 2000 drive dying. :(
So as you can clearly see I like the God of War franchise....A LOT. So while PSN was down I decided to play through all of my old games, and get my trophy score up, and the second game I went to was God of War 3 (Resident Evil 5 was first since they were the easiest to get). But moving on along, I put the disc in, no updates, were off to a good start already. And as soon as I started playing it again I realized for the second time just how incredible this game is.
God of War may not have the best combat system in it's genre, it may not have the most enemies on screen, or tons of weapons and powers, but it is THE BEST GAME IN IT'S GENRE BY FAR.
Let's get the graphics out of the way. God of War 3 still holds up as one of the best looking games EVER. Even after the likes of Killzone 3, Crysis 2, and upcoming arrivals like Uncharted 3, RAGE, Battlefield 3, and other big graphics games. I as well as other use to say it's the best looking game at time, but the problem with that thinking was that the times when we thought it wasn't was simply something like running through some random hallway to get to the next area, and even then the game trounces 90% of the games out there. There isn't a time in the game where you're really playing that the game doesn't look jaw dropping. Kratos character model is easily one of the best designed in any game, the enemy character models are well done, especially larger/deadlier enemies. The sense of scale destroys everything out there from the Titans, to the stages, to the puzzles. I never noticed it while playing, but Mount Olympus itself is nothing but one big puzzle, starting all the way from the Underworld, up to the top of the mountain, that's the kind of scale you get in God of War 3 and often.
The gameplay is God of War 3 is perfect. It may not be the most flashy combat system, or the most technical, but it is the most smooth, simplistic, and satisfying. You don't have to think about what you're doing to play God of War 3, and that to me is a testament of great gameplay and great controls allowing everyone to be able to learn the game in minutes. This is the same the same feeling I get when I play Uncharted 2, which is going to be compared to God of War 3 throughout this review often. You get 5 weapons over your journey (1 only gained through using Rage of the Titans) along with a specific magic power tied to each weapon, and 3 items to use as well. The weapons are all pretty similar at first glance, but they do offer unique differences.
The Blades of Exile your main weapons are similar to the blades Kratos has in every God of War game. It's magic summons fallen Spartans to shield you from attacks and stab every enemy nearby, after maxing out it summons the Spartans, and the rain down hundreds of arrows on all enemies nearby. The next weapon you receive are the Claws of Hades after defeating Hades which I'll get to later. These claws function similarly to the Blades of Exile, but the main difference is their ability to summon souls to aid you in battle. So you can summon many of the enemy types you defeat in the game as you power of the Blades, one thing that's disappointing is that you can't use Hades even though you stole his soul with them, but oh well. The Nemean Cetus are next, and the most varied of the weapons. They turn Kraots into a brawler allowing him to perform hand to hand combat, and cause tremors by hitting the groun, but they too are chained weapons. The final weapon is the Nemesis Whip, which are actually two whips the are good for setting up aerial combos, their magic shocks all nearby enemies and temporarily paralyzes them.
The items have received a huge upgrade from previous games by now having their own magic meter, that refills seconds after use. You obtain the bow of Apollo to shoot arrows or flaming arrow. Boot of Hermes which turn Kratos into a track star/basketball player as he speeds past enemies, jump up in the air, or runs up and across walls. The last item is the Head of Helios (yes the Head of the god himself) to bind enemies, light up dark areas, or find hidden treasure/paths. This item is so extremely useful, so make sure you learn to use it constantly on your first playthrough, because you're going to need it to beat the game on Titan Mode of the trophy, as well as to find all the hidden chest.
The audio of God of War 3 is very good. As always the voice acting is great, and all the performance are well done. The music fits the setting perfectly, and the weapons and sound effects are great as well with the exception of using the Cetus to hit the unbreakable blue crystal items, that just sounds a little cheap to me.
Now that the technical part of the review is out of the way, it's time to get into why this game is such a masterpiece. God of War 3 is like playing a Summer Blockbuster movie, the same way Uncharted 2 was. This game is CINEMATIC. The camera work is some of the best ever, and the QTE's offering some of the grueling, brutal, but entertaining moments in gaming. God of War 3 just offers so many great moments. I've literally played this game in front of several family members, and they were entertained so much that all they wanted to do was watch, and only one bothered to ask to play when I died for the first time. It's completely unbelievable what Sony Santa Monica has done with this game using the PS3's hardware. There are just so many moments in this game from simple things like, the multilayer puzzles, to the amazing architecture, to the incredible boss fights. Oh the boss fights. EVERY BOSS FIGHT IS INCREDIBLE. The very beginning of the game has one of the best Boss Fights in any God of War game, or any game ever for that matter. The Poseidon fight is a complete showcase for this game, for your PS3, and your HDTV. It's truly incredible, and the time and effort they put into it really shows, this battle sets the tone for the entire game. The next big fight is with Hades himself, and once again it's another incredible experience, the two of you are literally in a battle to the death for your souls, and it's one of the most artistic yet brutal boss fights ever. The Hermes chase was thrilling and a refreshing take on boss fight for the series. Fighting a 1,000 foot Titan was another moment to go down in history as one of the best Boss Fights ever. Pounding Hercules face in, all the way up to your final confrontation with Zeus which has so many layers to it it's ridiculous in a good way. God of War 3 is one of the best PS3 games, and one of the best games ever. Like Uncharted 2 before it, it's a perfect example of what ever other game in it's genre has to look up to, because it's sitting high above everything else. One of the best games ever.