On the surface, there’s not a great deal to love about Kratos. He’s a vicious, ruthless, amoral son-of-a-gun who wouldn’t be able to make it to the supermarket without three decapitations and a good half-dozen eviscerations. If he were standing at the bar at your local, you wouldn’t merely give him a wide berth, you’d probably leave the pub altogether for fear that he might spill your lifeblood, just to prevent you even potentially spilling his pint. Frankly, God of War III doesn’t do much to defend Sparta’s reputation.
Along with literally thousands of mythical creatures and most surviving members of the Greek pantheon of gods, Kratos is responsible for the deaths of screaming women, panicked men and a sizable proportion of the population of Olympia. Some of these fatalities are portrayed with such a level of gruesome detail that you wonder whether you’re a) supposed to be questioning the bloke’s brutality, or b) just enjoying the sensation of crushing bones and squishing eyeballs. In short, the guy’s a total psycho.
Luckily for Kratos, he’s the star of the finest hack-and-slash action series of all time, and that’s one reputation that God of War III does no harm whatsoever. In fact, it’s the highpoint of the series, using the grunt of PS3 to take the God of War formula to its logical extreme. Basically, everything you love about God of War is here, and it’s bolder and more brutal than anything you’ve seen before.
I thought Sega’s excellent Bayonetta had set a high benchmark for the big set-piece, but God of War III doesn’t so much top that benchmark as destroy it. For most games a series of running battles on a Titan’s back followed by a boss battle against a deity would be the climax, but for this one it’s just a dramatic opener.