The recent launch of Dante’s Inferno (God Of War 2.5 in all but name) upped the ante somewhat in the historical action adventure genre, so GOW3 had to be good. Thankfully, it is.
Kratos’ next gen. debut (the recent re-release of the first two episodes on PS3 notwithstanding) looks and sounds amazing, thanks to stunning graphical flourishes and the most stirring of classical scores. The game takes up the Spartan’s story right where we left him at the end of GOW2, once we’ve got through the ridiculously long opening credits, teaming up with the Titans for an assault on Olympus, and our battle-scarred anti-hero must take on practically the entire pantheon of Greek gods before having a crack at Zeus himself.
Consumed by rage and a desire for revenge, Kratos is more bloodthirsty than ever, finding ever-more gruesome ways to despatch his enemies, involving buckets of blood, miles of intestines and some good old-fashioned eye-gouging into the bargain – the death of Hermes, the fleet-footed messenger of the gods is particularly stomach-churning. Despite an early altercation with Gaia and the rest of the Titans, Kratos is not exactly alone – the shade of Athena is, bizarrely, on his side. Having found out that as long as Zeus reigns in Olympus, there is no hope for mankind, Athena pops up from time to time with nuggets of advice. She’s not the only familiar figure to make a re-appearance, with Pandora, Cronos and, of course, Zeus, present and correct.
For the most part, it’s about finding all manner of gory ways to butcher enemies, although it’s not all about pain: there’s an interesting (ahem) interlude in Aphrodite’s bed-chamber and plenty of godly intrigue to keep you on your toes. While the combat is superb, with up to 50 enemies on screen at once, it’s the quality of the puzzle-solving that really lifts GOW3 above its rivals: whether you’re negotiating your way through a devilish maze or unlocking the secrets to the Flame of Olympus, there’s some serious thinking involved, but the feeling of satisfaction when you work out the solution is worth all the effort.
The game looks incredible, and exceeds even its illustrious predecessors in terms of visual splendour, and while the gameplay is pretty much more of the same, it’s part of what made the two previous games (and the PSP title, Chains Of Olympus) so good, so why mess with a winning formula? A truly superb game.