An Epic Gaming Session: A Review of God of War III

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If I were Kratos, I'd be sad the final third of his epic game sucks, too.

Usually I’m pretty on the ball about getting reviews of games out when the game is still extremely fresh. God of War III is a huge title for the PS3 and has been out now for half a month or more, but no review from me yet. That’s because I wanted to actually play this one myself since I had a free game rental and I figured it wouldn’t take me that long to actually beat the game. I rented the game, headed over to Other Chris’ house, and spent nine and a half hours beating God of War III. You already know if you’re going to buy it, and other reviewers have already done their job of telling you how great it is. Now it’s my turn, and lucky for you, I didn’t love the game. In fact, I have a ton of gripes about it. Should be fun reading! So let’s get started, shall we?

Warnings and Disclaimers

There are really two games to review here: God of War III Beginning to End of Cronos Fight, and God of War III Post-Cronos Fight to Ending. The first two-thirds of the game are a solid A+, 5 star, 9/10 game filled with amazing battles, light puzzles, and above all Epic Everything. The last third of the game brings the whole package down to around a D. That’s how bad the resolution was and it all comes down to pacing, story, and the inability of the developers to know HOW to resolve something of this magnitude. I’m going to attempt not to ruin plot points, but I’ll have no choice, so here’s your warning of a spoiler:

BIG SPOILERS INCOMING!

Oh, and before I continue, let’s get something very straight right now: I don’t care what YOU thought about God of War III. This is what I think about God of War III and just because I believe one thing doesn’t mean your enjoyment of the game is being challenged. That said, any comments I do get about how I “Didn’t get the game” or “Am completely wrong,” will be approved but followed with an extremely vicious counter argument that will inevitably include the phrase, “Just shut up already.” Okay, done with disclaimers, let’s have some fun nitpicking!

Kratos will not be happy with the words to come.

Gaming Out With the God of War

As I mentioned, I beat the game in roughly nine and a half hours on the Normal difficulty setting. I’ve heard stories that people have been beating it in under six hours, so let that be an indicator for how long the game is. If you want an even bigger spoiler now, you have no reason to purchase this title unless you really, really loved it during the rental period and feel like you’ll want to play it again. There’s absolutely no problem with wanting to own the game, but I’m just telling you now, one playthrough is about all most people will ever want, so $60 is a steep price point.

In those nine and one half hours I died maybe two dozen times. I’m ballparking that figure because I didn’t keep perfect count, but I remember it asking me at least three times if I wanted to lower my difficulty level and that only happens when you die five times in a row. The reason for those deaths are as follows: Maybe six deaths against Poseidon in the beginning of the game due to learning the controls again, seven or eight deaths attempting to platform as fast as Hermes wanted me to, eight or more deaths trying to fly down the Chain of Balance with controls that didn’t work for a sudden flight simulator in my God of War game, one death against the final boss because I got bored, one death against Cronos due to me being stupid, and the rest coming as a result of me trying to make a simple jump across a small chasm but having my double-jump glide ability not work, meaning I unceremoniously fall to my death for no reason. If you look at those numbers, that means the majority of my deaths were a result of God of War III thinking it needed platforming elements but not knowing how to do those very well. Other times I’d happen to die because the jumping the game wanted me to do had a critical platform obscured by the camera, meaning I’m nervously leaping, hoping I don’t die and when I do die, hoping that the previous checkpoint is right at the ledge I jumped from, which turned out to be the case most of the time.

Seriously, you can just shut your console off after this segment's over.

I wouldn’t say I’m bad at the game by any means. I wouldn’t say I’m a master, but I know what I’m doing. I learned the most effective move was usually a spam chain of grappling towards enemies with a shoulder thrust and upon slamming into them, repeating the grapple in a new direction until everything was dead. There were some incredibly fun boss fights, but most of the regular enemies just started to bug me and grow tiresome, particularly by the end of the game. It seemed that the best challenge the game could throw at me was just dumping more of the same enemies on my head rather than think of something new. Oh well, at least the bosses were fun.

Or at least, the bosses up through Cronos. You’ll hear me say that again and again because that is the absolute highlight of the game. In fact, you should just stop playing the game after you’re done with that segment because the game doesn’t come anywhere near being good after that. Glitches became far more frequent, such as save points getting very finicky and unresponsive, and one boss having a glitch where its weak point was exposed but it wasn’t taking damage anymore because the texture of the weak point hadn’t gone away but the weak point had, if that makes sense. That glitch caused me a few deaths. Even worse, textures stopped looking as nice, the game’s layout began to decline heavily, and nothing of interest happened after Cronos and I had words. Words spoken with my fists.

Fists and lots of morose starring.

Probably the biggest and most obvious glitch happened during the obligatory God of War sex minigame. I had done it once already for the story to progress, but when I returned to do it again something was definitely odd since the camera usually shifts to two girls talking about the acts that Kratos is performing off camera. Except on the return visit, there was only one girl, yet the animations were still the same. Even weirder, the girl that wasn’t there was still talking, but when the girl that WAS there talked there was no sound. All that means is: Game’s Broken. It was a lot of instances like that where the final third of the game felt rushed. “Alright, and we’re done guys.” “Uh, you know there’s still a third of the game left to do, right?” “Oh yeah. Meh, whatever, just dump in some puzzles and more enemies from earlier in the game and call it a night.”

The biggest question I had going into God of War III was, “Was this necessary?” Reason being, I played the first God of War and loved it. It was a self-contained story where Kratos decides he’s going to kill a god and, by golly, by the end of the game he’s killed that god. Story over, no more to say. God of War II, however, did what I HATE in video games. The exact same plot is used from the first game, having Kratos retconned back to his basic levels and weapons again, with the goal being to kill Zeus and all the gods of Olympus. At the end of the game, you fight Zeus but accidentally kill Athena instead. The very last thing that happens in the game is Kratos hops on Gaia’s back and her and all the Titans climb toward the top of Mount Olympus to fight all the gods with Kratos looking rather ready to finish things. Then the credits roll and that’s it. He might as well have said, “See you on the PS3 folks!” So my question going in was, “Does God of War III justify its existence?” Or, “Could God of War III have been done on the PS2?”

If this looks familiar, it's probably because it's exactly like the previous two games.

To answer those, no, it doesn’t justify its existence, and yes, it could have been part of God of War II rather than a whole separate game. The reason is story. God of War II demands a sequel due to a story being unresolved, so when God of War III comes along and utterly fails in the story department I have a serious problem. God of War III’s story is riddled with plot holes, the biggest being one that drives Kratos through a solid half of the game. Kratos discovers that he’ll need to open Pandora’s Box in order to obtain the power to kill a God. You know, that thing he opened already in the first game? Yeah, he needs to open that again for some reason. In order to open it this time for yet another Some Reason you need Pandora herself to unlock it. There are two fundamental problems with this. First, Kratos already opened the box in the first game, meaning that there shouldn’t be a reason why it can’t be opened again. Secondly, Kratos already HAS the power to kill a god since he’s managed to kill EVERY OTHER GOD in the game by the time he reaches the point where he’d need to open the box again. He ripped Helios’ head off before the game was half way over, so why does he think he needs some secret weapon or power to beat Zeus?

I figured, “Okay, fine, I’ll play along. I have no choice since the game will only progress how it seems fit, so I’ll go through the long and tedious process of finding Pandora so I can open the box and get something to resolve the plot.” I go through all of that, having to endure Pandora being an extremely annoying character and Kratos’ character motivation shifting instantly when he hears that Pandora needs his help, and you know what happens? I beat up Zeus before I get to the box, have him in the perfect position for a kill strike, and instead Kratos decides, “Yeah, let’s open this box instead.” What does he find? The box, is…EMPTY! I’m told at the very end of the game that I ALREADY had what was in the box since I opened it in the first game. Which means that HALF of the game was POINTLESS. Bad storytelling. Bad game design.

At least Hades didn't disappoint. Hades never disappoints.

On another note, the game did an awful job of keeping me guessing what would happen next. I knew enough about Greek mythology to be aware of which gods and goddesses I’d have to fight, with none of them being a particular surprise, so there weren’t any real surprises coming my way. I’d just check off the gods as I killed them and look for the next one I expected.

Oh, I have to mention this, but women are portrayed in the most awful fashion here that I’ve seen in a video game since Dead or Alive Extreme Beach Volleyball. The female characters fall into one of three categories. They are either purely there to be a sexual object (Aphrodite), laughably pitiful next to their male counterparts (Hera), or just an object in general (Pandora). The only other female character is Athena, and it became apparent in the end of the game that the developers didn’t know why she was there in the first place. Come to think of it, I probably couldn’t tell you either.

So beyond knowing which characters I had left to kill, I could see in my inventory which slots still needed to be filled. That meant I could judge how much longer I figured the game would be since I could think, “Okay, I have one more god to kill and two inventory slots to fill. That must mean I have roughly a third of the game left.” Giving me the ability to know what tricks you could possibly throw at me takes the fun out of the progression and just has me waiting for the game to wrap things up. Not good.

Also, I couldn't help but think 300 was feeling a little ripped off now and again.

If you couldn’t tell, I was very disappointed with God of War III. I don’t want to belabor the point of the ending being just downright miserable because I don’t want to go on for another two pages. I’ll just say that when God of War makes the attempt to preach a moral or a message after it’s abundantly clear that the world is effed and every single character is either dead or evil, Kratos included, then I stop caring and get angry. God of War does NOT get to give me a heavy-handed message about hope just like a banana does not get to give me political advice. Shut up banana and do your job by providing me with potassium.

Shut up Kratos and do your job by providing me with senseless violence.

I’ll wrap things up by saying once again that God of War III isn’t a bad game for the first two-thirds of the game. In fact, those first two-thirds are some of the most amazing gameplay moments I’ve experienced in recent years. It’s the last third that brings the game into a train wreck. God of War III is like a sprinter going for a Gold medal in the Olympics and shooting past everyone, clearly on track to not only break but shatter the World Record, but with a third of the race left he trips and eats it hard, taking out several other sprinters with him. That’s God of War III. If I ever see a God of War IV I’m going to make it my mission to seek revenge upon Sony for betraying me so readily to make a few bucks.

And if you think I’m harsh here, wait until I give my review of Spirit Tracks within the next week.

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About Author

Chris was the former Head Writer/Editor of Toy-TMA. He did a great job overseeing the site and getting new content published regularly. Always more than willing to respond to a comment or two, but pitiless with trolls! He has since moved on from TMA, and we wish him the best.

6 Comments

  1. Well, I can’t say I didn’t expect that eventually. If you bought the game and loved it, that’s perfectly wonderful. I don’t remember saying that liking the game makes you an idiot. I’m not trying to convince anyone who enjoyed that game that they’re wrong, but I would recommend giving Extra Credits’ episode on God of War III a watch. They seem to share a handful of my thoughts on the story.

    I haven’t, however, lied anywhere, but I thank you for your full read-through and consideration of my opinion! Looks like I got you to think there, didn’t I? 🙂

  2. I know I’m 2 years late but better late than never.

    Awful ‘review’, you’re obviously lacking in analytical skills and common sense and you give off the impression of being a total idiot.

    1) The story was brilliantly done, you clearly didn’t pay any attention which is immediately apparent reading your ‘review’, I don’t think you understand what a plot-hole is, God of War III had none. I’ll explain your ill-founded issues to your stupid self, firstly Kratos needed Pandora to open the box because the Gods encased it in the flame of Olympus which Hephaestus designed in a way that only by sacrificing Pandora into the flame would it be quelled. Secondly, in case you’re ignorant Zeus is the king of the Gods, the most powerful, that’s why Kratos sought the power inside the box, and even though it was empty he wouldn’t have been able to kill Zeus unless he opened it. The power Kratos drew from the box in the first God of War was trapped within under layers of guilt and depression when Athena revealed the memories that torment him will not be erased. It was only during the fear Kratos part in Kratos’ psyche that Pandora was able to help Kratos confront and forgive himself of the atrocities he’s committed with the fire of hope, now with the layers of guilt removed and back to the real world Kratos then had the power to kill Zeus that he wouldn’t have if he didn’t let Pandora sacrifice herself to Pandora’s box because then she wouldn’t have been there to help rid Kratos of the guilt consuming him and unleash the power of Hope.

    2) The plat-forming is perfect, you just suck.

    3) Enemy variety and pacing is perfect.

    4) The game did an amazing job at keeping me guessing on my first play-through.

    5) The game’s set in ancient Greece, woman weren’t treated as well as men as they are today. Plus, Aphrodite is the effing Goddess of love which is why she’s sexual, Hera’s pitiful because she was always pitiful in Greek Mythology, and Pandora was made to be a key to open Pandora’s box, she was created and that’s why she’s an object, not just because she’s a woman… And yeah go ahead and ignore all the other woman in the game like Athena, Gaia and Kratos’ wife and child at the end. Good lord the stupidity in your way of thinking Chris.

    6) I’ve played the game 9 times and have come across no glitches, needlessly slagging off a team of peoples hard work that lasted 3 years makes you an arsehole, I don’t know why you’d lie about glitches but It’s not surprising seeing as all this is merely a blatant troll review pointing out problems that don’t exist, for real people and all the 250+ reviewers giving this game 9.5-10 scores making it average around 95% overall, it’s a stellar game.

    7) What do you mean the developers didn’t know why Athena was there in the first place, isn’t her motive clear or are you really that stupid?! I’ll explain, Athena was infected with the evil greed after Kratos first opened the box in God of War, when Kratos killed her by accident she ascended to a higher existence, from there she realised that if Zeus and all the other Gods were to be killed she could be the one and only Goddess of all, that’s why she helps Kratos throughout the game and asks Kratos to give her the power at the end, of course Kratos denied her in his last act of vengeance and in doing so returned hope to mankind so that they could continue living and rebuild with aid from the Gods.

    I don’t know who you are since you’re just a wannabe critic on an unheard of site, but what’s the point in trolling this game, did it make you angry that you suck at it or that you didn’t understand anything… How can you blame the game for that? It’s your fault entirely, if the game was as bad as you make it out to be then why is it the best-selling and highest rated game in the genre of all time? Why is it beloved by millions of fans? Simple, because it’s one of the best games of all time, no matter what one clueless loser writes on the internet, to anyone reading, ignore Chris Pranger’s troll rant disguised as a ‘review’, he’s dishonest, ill-informed, lying and a total imbecile. If you haven’t already, buy this game!

  3. Its kinda weird for me to have to see big kahunas for no real reason. Im a girl and I LOVE the GOW series but Im not surprised that they portrayed the women in the game very…stupid (which sucks), if you really think about though, they actually have the characters right. Aphrodite IS the Goddess of love, so gee, what does that imply? Zeus is a man whore so any woman he’s with is a drunken idiot. In real Greek mythology all the women were trash and the men were all pompous idiots. But idk I just wish the sex scene could have been an unlock able rather than something I have to get by. When I denied Aphrodite sex the first time, my ps3 froze as I was walking away, that was hilarious. It was like a shocker for the game, I had to restart in order to continue on.

  4. Enemies like the Medusa and Sirens don’t count as women, and if they do they certainly weren’t difficult. In fact, I’d easily kill those first so that I could use them to attack other enemies, making them once more an example of females being items. Gaia is hardly a woman and not exactly a good example of a female, either. While she’s the “leader” of the Titans, she is entirely reliant on Kratos to save her when she’s attacked. Without him, she cannot succeed. Naturally, when she betrays you, it’s just a simple matter of hacking her hand off to defeat her. She falls into the category of “pitifully incompetent” when compared to other Titans, such as Cronos.

  5. Oh wait. Don’t forget Gaia too. She was a woman (or at least of the female gender of her species) and she was practically the leader of an entire Titan Army.
    Also a lot of the more challenging enemies were female, like the Sirens and Medusa.

  6. That was a good review. As I’ve said, I obviously enjoyed a lot more than you did.
    There are a few things I need to mention. I don’t remember having any of those graphic glitches you mentioned during my playthrough. Maybe other Chris’ PS3 just sucks.
    Oh, and you didn’t figure out what Athena was there for? She was trying to take over the world. Or should I say trying to be the savior of the world, but she needed Kratos to get Hope out of Pandora’s Box for her.
    Whatever, your just going to think it’s stupid.
    Can’t wait to see how Yatzee thrashes the game tomorrow (I’m pretty sure that’s what he’ll review now that he’s got FFXIII out of the way.)

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