Completing the Trifecta: God of War III Review

Hello again, and welcome back to The Daily Beard.  It’s been a bit since my last game review, mostly because I’ve been gaming more than I’ve been writing.  But today, I’ll remedy that by sharing my thoughts on God of War III.

Now, before the actual review, I have a slight change to the grading system.  Specifically, I’ll now be grading on a 10 point scale, for both game reviews and beer reviews.  Why?  I think it’ll allow for a clearer picture of why and how I’m scoring the way I am.  It’ll bring a little clarity, and that’s always good.

Alright, with that taken care of, cue the epic Kratos music!

gowiii

Ah yes, God of War III.  Chronologically, the latest chapter in Kratos’ Face Slicing Saga.  There is so much awesome about this game, it’s a challenge simply to begin.  So, strap your chains on, break out your Minotaur horn and your patented gorgon stabbers…it’s time to get our Greek on.

God of War III see’s the return of everyone’s favorite slightly good, mostly bad, all around kick ass protagonist, Kratos.  The game picks up where God of War II left off – that is, moments before Kratos and his army of Titans (and Gaia’s Mountain Breasts) were about to straight up wreck Mt. Olympus.  After the opening cinematic, which shows the remaining gods getting pumped and basically getting their game faces on, the gameplay starts, and you find yourself fighting off the minions of Olympus while riding Gaia up the side of a mountain.  See, even that sentence is awesome.  Anyway, this and the rest of the gameplay is just spectacular.  It’s still the tried and true hack n’ slash, using combo’s and interweaving vicious weapon attacks with powerful magic.  But, unlike either of the previous two God of War games, possibly even more so than most action-adventure games out there, the action in God of War III is more fluid than a bottle of water strapped to the hip of a belly dancer.  Combos merge into combos flawlessly and seamlessly, allowing constant fighting from one group of monsters to the next.  Use your weapons to grab enemies and pull them to you, or pull yourself to them, or even pull yourself along for a ride as you stab-fly a harpy over a unjumpable gap.  Awesome!

In the words of The Steve Miller Band: "I'm gonna fly like a stabbily-persuaded-harpy, to that ledge"
In the words of The Steve Miller Band: “I’m gonna fly like a stabbily-persuaded-harpy, to that ledge”

Backing up the smoothness of the combat is your arsenal.  Your trusty chain-swords are now called the Blades of Exile, but they do the same things, kick the same ass, and use the same button combos.  Additionally, you also get some sweet claws when *SPOILER* you take them from the fresh corpse of Hades!  And then some epic first weapons, and then some electric chain claw-spikes that act like the briefcase of a Ginsu Knife salesmen just took a hit of E.  In other words, bad ass.

Those things even look like they're raving.  Right into that dude's chest
Those things even look like they’re raving. Right into that dude’s chest

You also have a flaming bow that doesn’t use magic (awesome), the usual magic powers, and some god-stolen items that basically end up giving you the best powers from every god, like the Head of Helios (that you ripped from his body) that allows you to find hidden chests and doors.  And, the best part is that all of these items-the weapons, the magic powers, the nifty god abilities-can be integrated into combat on the fly.  Unload a round of flaming arrows on a monster, then toss your blades at him to pull him towards you like a Greek version of Scorpion.  Pop one of your magic abilities, and finish by hurling your electro-claws around until everything around you is a collection of red orbs.  This is just one possible way to take on a single group of monsters.  Since you can switch from weapon to weapon on the fly without having to go into the menu and switch one out for another, the combat doesn’t need to stop until a cinematic.  

And really, who would want to stop looking at this?
And really, who would want to stop looking at this?

I could go on and on about the gameplay, but there’s so much more to go into.  For instance, the graphics.  Not only does God of War III look gorgeous, but everything that moves, shines, ripples, explodes, or splatters looks magnificent.  When cinematics transition into the actual game play, there aren’t any loading screens.  The gameplay looks like the cinematic.  The motion capture of the characters are just perfect, with every movement, muscle twitch, and weapon swing silky smooth and fluid.  And, you can now paint the levels red with the blood of the fallen.  Not just a red spray when you punch a dude in the head.  No no.  I’m talking about carving open a centaur’s stomach, causing his intestines to spill out, leaving puddles of dark red all over the place.  Gross?  Sure.  Epic?  Damn right.

Sure, it's not the most pleasant thing to look at, but you go out and stab a centaur in the stomach.  You know something's gonna leak out of the hole.
Sure, it’s not the most pleasant thing to look at, but you go out and stab a centaur in the stomach. You know something’s gonna leak out of the hole.

Perhaps the best part of the graphics is just how damn good Kratos looks.  His muscles are no longer sharply edged boxes wrapped around his arms.  He had abs and pecs and triceps and biceps, and muscles that probably don’t even exist anymore.  You can see sweat and blood drip and trickle down his skin as he’s in the middle of a whoop-ass session.  Get close enough and you can see the rage smoldering right behind his eyes.  And this isn’t just a poetic description.  You can actually see all of this.  It is, in a word, gorgeous.

Close enough to see that Cyclops' optic nerve!  Fun for the whole family!
Close enough to see that Cyclops’ optic nerve! Fun for the whole family!

Now, even though this game is pretty and full of fun, new ways to chop a dude in half, what’s the point if the story is horrible, right?  Well, fear not, because this story is the best of the main trilogy, and possibly one of the best game stories out there.  You’ll see Kratos go from god killing bad ass, to a man torn apart by his inner demons.  You’ll even see a rare soft side to Kratos that’ll just tug at your heartstrings.  What’s more, while the game doesn’t have a Skyrim level of gameplay hours to it, when you’re done, it’ll feel like you’ve spent a straight week playing, and I mean that in the best way possible.  When you think you’ve reached the end, God of War III says ain’t nobody got time for that! and sends you back.  What’s great is that it never feels repetitive.  I think you visit the underworld five or six times, and each time is different, with new monsters, new areas, and new puzzles.    Oh, also, it features Rip Torn as Hephaestus, the Greek Smith God.  The fact that Rip Torn supplies the voice doesn’t really matter in terms of the story, but you’ll be seeing so much of him, you might as well know who it is, so you’re not wracking your brain like I was, trying to figure out why he sounds so familiar.

Though, he does look more normal than Rip Torn ever will, so that threw me off a bit.
Though, he does look more normal than Rip Torn ever will, so that threw me off a bit.

Continuing on the path of excellence is the sound.  Deeper, more haunting and emotional, every sound, song, and line of dialogue is perfect, recorded at the perfect level, by the perfect voice actor, with the perfect amount of emotion and personality.  The score is great, changing from area to area to highlight the overall feel of each stage of your journey.  There wasn’t even one cliché, cheesy line to be found in the entire game.  Everything you see and hear was placed in exactly the right spot, for exactly the right reasons.

The only thing left to talk about is the replayability.  As is the case with the other two games, God of War III’s hack n’ slashiness doesn’t lend itself well to continuous replaying of the game.  You do unlock higher difficulties, like normal, and there is the standard arena challenges, and there’s even some downloadable content.  But, perhaps the best part of the game’s replayability is that, when I was done for the first time, I didn’t feel like I needed to go back through again.  My journey felt complete.  And, as I said above, when you finish, it’ll feel like you just spent an eternity playing the game.  And that’s great.  Sure, it may not make you want to go back again and again, but it certainly delivers on an epic scale.

In the end, God of War III is by far the best of the three main storyline games and possibly one of the best games, dare I say, ever.  Everything about this game is fluid.  Fluid gameplay, fluid graphics, fluid story.  Gripping and as realistic as a game about a god-powered super Spartan can be, God of War III sets the bar for the wide genre of hack n’ slashy action-adventure at an Olympus height.  Anything else will need to blade grapple and harpy swing their way to even come close. God of War III earns a Rage of Sparta fueled A.

It's lonely at the top.  Unless you're Kratos.  Then you're used to being lonely.  Because you've killed everyone else.
It’s lonely at the top. Unless you’re Kratos. Then you’re used to being lonely. Because you’ve killed everyone else.

Grading:

Gameplay: 10/10

Story: 10/10

Sound: 10/10

Replayability: 8/10

Graphics: 10/10

Overall: 9.6/10 A

Beer Pairing:

For the previous two God of War games, I suggested two IPAs because, like Kratos, they were super bitter and full of anger and rage.  Ok, maybe not the second part.  But, they had some harshness that summed up Kratos to the best of a beer’s abilities.  Well, for the final pairing of the God of War series, I’m breaking away from true IPAs, though, not too far.  My suggested beer is Southern Tier’s Iniquity Black Ale.  Like an IPA (and Kratos), this beer is bitter, strong, and assumes total control of your tongue from the first drop.  Unlike your typical IPA, (and the typical Kratos up until now), it also brings a bold sweetness that counters the bitter.  One of the major themes of this game is Kratos’ internal struggle between the angry, bitter guilt he feels, and the (somewhat) decent dude he used to be.  Presumably before the whole murdering his family thing drove him over the edge.  And, we see a bit of sweetness from Kratos as the game progresses.

Don’t get me wrong, neither the game or the beer feature just plain sweetness.  There’s a catch with bother offerings.  With the beer, it’s a deep, dark, earthy sweetness of dark chocolate and coffee bean.  With the game it’s – well, it’s Kratos.  Any emotion he delivers comes with a side of blade to the face.  But, throughout the God of War III story, we see just how complex a character our favorite Spartan is.  And, as you drink Southern Tier’s Iniquity, you’ll see just how complex a beer it is.  And what better reason could there be for suggesting this beer?

Other than, if you drink enough of it, you'll be able to forget what Helios' O-face looks like...
Other than, if you drink enough of it, you’ll be able to forget what Helios’ O-face looks like…
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