Like Uncharted 2, God of War revels in those moments where you think “surely they won’t/can’t do that”, before going and doing exactly what you thought it wouldn’t/couldn’t. I really don’t want to give anything away, but let’s just say that if you want thrilling chases, epic boss battles and block and lever puzzles on a truly monumental scale, then God of War III has your needs covered. Think of the biggest moments in the first two games, then double them, then double them again. Believe me: you’re still only just beginning to get the picture.
Almost needless to say, it’s visually stunning. On the PS2 God of War did a lot by applying some very clever effects to comparatively basic textures and geometry. Now, with the surfacing and lighting power of PS3 at its disposal, Sony’s Santa Monica studio has pulled a blinder. Kratos now looks as good in gameplay as he does in the cut-scenes, with so much detail on his grim face and battle-scarred torso that he could have walked straight out of a Frank Frazetta book cover.
Environments veer between gloomy underworlds and opulent palaces, with both displaying a mastery of light and shading that makes the game look like the very best sort of fantasy art. Yet, above all else, it’s the sheer brilliance of the production design that impresses. Like its predecessors – and like Bioshock, Batman: Arkham Asylum and Fallout 3 – God of War III delivers a completely convincing and compelling world, populated by a really, really nasty bunch of monsters. Much as I love Devil May Cry 4, much as I love Bayonetta, there’s simply no question that God of War does this better than any other game of its type.
And in the end, the same goes for the actual gameplay. While God of War III’s combat system isn’t as rich or timing dependent as Bayonetta’s or as deep as Devil May Cry’s, it is undeniably more fluid and more satisfying. Maybe the weapons in this instalment stay a little too close to variants on the Blades of Chaos, but each has a solid range of area-clearing attacks and more directed heavy moves, and the time you save in not worrying about blocks, counters and eight-press combos can be better spent on working out tactics to clear one group of baddies, then another.