When I played the first God of War back in 2005, I was just an average 15-year-old teenager on the verge of completing my freshmen year of high school. It was a typical Friday night and I was ready to unwind after a long, strenuous week of tests, homework, and awkward interactions with female classmates. I remember staring at the cover art for a good 20-30 seconds before I even popped in the game disc. I could feel the emotion conveyed in the artwork; armed with his sharp, jagged, bloodstained dual swords, the main character looked dead set on carrying out his mission at all costs.
Simply stated, God of War looked like it was going to be badass on so many levels and, sure enough, the game proved to be unlike any action-adventure game I’ve ever played. The degree of violence was, for lack of a better term, mind-blowingly gruesome and one couldn’t help but be surprised by the countless brutal kill cinematics that would’ve given Mortal Kombat a run for its money. Don’t get me wrong; I thought it was freakin’ awesome, and I’m sure any normal 15-year-old boy (and occasional girl) would have too.
Fast-forward 10 years, the remastered version of God of War III is just as awesome (if not, slightly better) as(than) its predecessors: a visually aesthetic continuation of a Greek mythological-inspired tragedy juiced up on steroids. The vicious, exaggerated level of violence that has become such a staple in the entire God of War franchise makes another appearance in this third installment of the main storyline (fifth overall) as the Spartan warrior, Kratos, continues his punitive, take-no-prisoners quest for vengeance. God of War III was supposed to act as the finale for the God of War trilogy; however, a new God of War title is currently in early development and, whether or not it’s another installment in the main story, it is safe to assume that players haven’t seen the last of Kratos yet.
With exception to God of War: Ascension, the GOW titles are primarily single-player games that follow a linear progression and utilize the exact same game mechanics.
God of War III: Remastered is no different. As Kratos, players engage in a combination of platforming and combo-based fighting as well as solve various puzzles, some being as simple as moving an object while others exude a fluctuating level of complexity. Gameplay and cinematic cutscenes intermix well together, as no loading screens interrupt the story at any time.
One of the main things I found troublesome (especially when solving more complex puzzles) involved the implementation of the fixed camera perspective. Several times, the fixed camera obscured my vision of the game world, making certain puzzles seem a lot more difficult than they actually appeared. I was frustrated as both a player and aspiring game creator because 1) it felt like these seemingly difficult puzzles hampered my overall game experience, and 2) this game would’ve been a lot better if the developers allowed the players to have more freedom with the camera’s point of view. Blurring the puzzle difficulty from obvious and sensible to “okay, let’s put the solution in the far end of the field where the player can barely see it” is a huge killjoy. Puzzles should increase in difficulty as the story progresses, yes, but not to the point where it becomes detrimental to the player’s game experience.
On another note, an aspect of gameplay that I thought was both interesting and unnecessary involved the borderline softcore porn scene with Aphrodite. Players don’t actually get to witness the scene, but they still must input the appropriate button commands to simulate the “hanky panky” going on between Kratos and Aphrodite (not to mention the sexual tension happening in the background between Aphrodites’ girls). I mean, I wasn’t completely surprised by this part of the game, considering the assorted eye-opening visuals displayed in the GOW universe, but it’s not like it was absolutely crucial to the plot of the story. Furthermore, it seemed unbelievable to me that Kratos would fornicate with another woman after suffering the pain and trauma of slaughtering his wife and daughter. Even if his actions are performed on their behalf, this part doesn’t fit logically with the rest of the story.
As one could probably guess with any remastered game, God of War III: Remastered got a major makeover in the graphics department. Many of the game’s various locales look aesthetically pleasing, down to the individual cracks displayed on the Chain of Balance and the bodies of water shimmering in the light. Kratos’ character model shines in full 1080p; every aspect of his character model from the Blades of Exile to his chiseled abs is displayed prominently in the game.
One of the greatest graphical highlights of the entire God of War franchise lies in its ability to properly display render distance. Whether Kratos is scaling Mount Olympus on the back of the titan, Gaia, or brutally curb-stomping a standard enemy in the pits of Tartarus, SCE Santa Monica excels at conveying an image in all its grandeur. What’s even more impressive is SCE Santa Monica’s ability to proportion certain character models and objects against behemoths like Hephaestus and Cronos as well as the vast landscapes where the story takes place.
As the third installment in the GOW trilogy, God of War III: Remastered pretty much follows its original PS3 counterpart, which was groundbreaking during its release in 2010. Although some of the dialogue was cliché, it was balanced well with superb voice acting, primarily with the characters, Hephaestus and Helios.
From beginning to end, the story does not disappoint. Every stage of the Hero’s Journey is told in an effective and coherent way, and the cinematic cutscenes are executed very well, allowing players to learn more information about certain characters, places, or objects. Kratos’ quest for vengeance resolves in an appropriately satisfying way, with the ending left open for the player’s interpretation.
The platforming mechanics in God of War III: Remastered seemed a little finicky at times. To give you an idea, let me paint a picture for you: I, for one, in my 20+ years of playing games, have never had as much trouble jumping in platform games than I’ve had in God of War III: Remastered (I mean, seriously, how hard is it to make the protagonist jump?) It’s quite a deterrent when something as simple as basic controls fails the player. I felt almost cheated because I would input the button command to double-jump and, four out of five times, the button commands were not recognized. Imagine my frustration after countless attempts to jump across a normal platform, only to fall to my impending death – not a pretty sight. Funny thing is that I didn’t have any trouble with the platforming mechanics in any of the previous GOW games, including the PS3 version of God of War III.