As "God of War 3" review scores pour in, it's clear that the PlayStation 3 has a hit on its hands. This final chapter in Kratos's battle against the gods of Greek mythology is the first for Sony's PS3. The top-notch action has carried over to the new system, according to reviews, but the graphical difference is clear.
Warning to parents and squeamish gamers: This game is an adults-only adventure. Much like the vindictive Nazi hunters in Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds," Kratos chooses a very bloody path toward vengeance. The body count is steep; the causes of death are brutal. "God of War 3" earns its Mature rating almost immediately and never looks back.
But reviews agree that, much as with Tarantino movies, the blood comes bottled in a gilded cup. God of War's signature style does not lie in witty dialogue and artistic allusions, but in its empowering combat, superlative graphics, and uncanny sense of scale.
For a further breakdown, let's turn to the God of War 3 reviews:
The battle system
"Yes, the series remains bold in its use of [quick time events, where players tap a specific series of buttons on command], a mechanic that other games still implement awkwardly and often with a faint air of embarrassment," writes Eurogamer. "As with everything else in this game, it's a combination of focused use and shameless delight in brutality that sees Santa Monica Studios through. God of War III gets away with so many button prompts because they offer a change of pace from hammering away at light and heavy attacks, and because they allow some of the world's greatest game animators to really pile on the showmanship."
The old tricks
"Taking the old 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' rule at face value, Sony Santa Monica has done very little to alter how things work, though there's been a bit of welcome polish on nearly every facet of gameplay," describes IGN's very favorable review. "That is, if you were expecting a revolution in terms of design, you'll be sorely disappointed. But, if you simply wanted more of what has made the series so great up to this point, you're going to be quite happy indeed. What has worked in the past largely still holds true here in great fashion."
The new tricks
"Another change comes from the addition of several new, smaller features, but I'm going to lump them together and just call it 'variety,' " writes 1UP.com, in a glowing review. "Sony Santa Monica has always done a good job of mixing up the series' level design and objectives so you don't feel like you're repeating the same tasks over and over, but God of War 3 is clearly the most impressive in this regard. You seemingly see, acquire, and participate in something new around every corner; it got to the point where, at the end of my first playthrough, I wanted to spend more time just messing around with the game's mechanics."
"The art is beautiful; intricately designed beasts segueing with God of War’s authentic amalgam of Greek mythos," critiques The Daily Telegraph, who gave it one of the lowest scores of any major outlet – an 8 out of 10. "The direction is stunning; God of War III’s camera is comfortably the most dynamic and best-guided we’ve ever seen, pirouetting around Kratos to frame the action in the most jaw-dropping way possible. It even pulls back to the heavens at times, taking in the view of the landscape while Kratos becomes little more than a speck on the canvas. A quick stab at the attack button sees a small flurry of colour, confirming you’re still in control."
"God of War 3" delivers "a weak and uneven narrative that's full of plot holes; it's a small vulnerability in an otherwise stellar game, but that's all you need to bring down a hero sometimes -- just ask Achilles," complains GamePro, which still gave the game a 4.5 out of 5 stars. "I've invested a lot of time and energy into Kratos' journey, and I both wanted and needed God of War III to make sense of the whole thing. There is an admirable attempt made to tie up all the loose ends and give some meaning to Kratos' struggle, but the narrative lacks the sense of momentum and drive that made the series so special. The quality of the actual gaming experience, and what the game means to the PS3, is undeniable, but from a storytelling perspective, I consider it a bit of a failure."
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