By Peter Galvin
God of War III
(Santa Monica Studio, Sony Computer Entertainment)
A melting pot of ancient Greek myths and characters, the God of War series embodies the term "Big Game." When the first title made its debut on the PS2 in 2005, people were blown away by the scope of the environments and the brutality of its anti-hero Kratos. A pawn in one of those tragic mind-games that Greek gods were so well-known for, Kratos was a Spartan warrior who set out to exact vengeance against the gods that betrayed him, battling his way through hell itself more than once. In this, the third and supposedly final game in the franchise, action and spectacle are amplified to their limits as Kratos ascends Mount Olympus to murder Zeus himself.
The first title to debut on a next-gen console, God of War III’s graphics are doubly incredible and the mechanics continue to be top notch, but it’s here that the story begins to falter. For the first half of the game, God of War III is a re-tread of its prequels, but that’s kind of okay when it’s also such ridiculous fun. You continue to destroy innumerable centaurs and cyclopses (cyclopsi?) and developers Santa Monica Studio have created a mechanism they coin “Zipper Technology” that aims to realistically resemble guts and organs popping out of a body. The bosses are likely the main draw, often filling the screen with their immense size, and God of War III has some of the best bosses yet in the series, including a Titan that you must scale á la Shadow of the Colossus.
Unfortunately the game climaxes early, just a little more than halfway through, and the ultimate battle with Zeus is a mostly disappointing section considering the wonderful spectacle that preceded it. Vengeance is a reliable plot-device for a reason, but eventually you’re going to have to supply answers and they better be good. As an ending to the series, perhaps Santa Monica Studio were shooting for something a little more arty but instead they nailed pretentious and repetitive. Depth was never really God of War’s strong suit anyway; for all its flash and dazzle, the series was enjoyed best as a top-notch exercise in murdering mythical creatures.