Sony Santa Monica tells a good story here, but perhaps not quite as good as the first two God of War games. That said, the story they do tell feels like a big budget movie at times, and delivers a ton of bloody action set against a fantastical ancient Greece. In the first God of War game for the Playstation 3, expectations were high -and rightfully so. The God of War series is one that has exhibited a ton of polish and this game is no different.
Graphics - 10:
Wow. I know this game has been out for awhile, but visually it still may be one of the most impressive titles I've played on any system ever. The sense of scale is amazing. Games like Castlevania: Lords of Shadow have you fight mammoth creatures at times, but God of War just feels better. One fight you are nearly crushed by a titan, only to blind him and carry out a prolonged battle against creatures on his body as you travel across an arm, over shoulders and so much more.
Even the way the game starts - *Spoiler here for those who haven't played #2* -
But you end God of War 2 on a titan's back, and you start 3 the same way. It looks like a forested area like you might see in any other game, but you are in fact battling enemies while riding this massive titan. The attack on Olympus is amazing - there always seems to be something going on in the background. On top of that, action is bloody, smooth and the framerate holds up despite everything that is always going on.
Sound & Music - 9:
As with the rest of the series, there are some fantastic musical scores in the background that really help to set the tone. I did notice a few of them are a bit shorter it seems than in the past and noticeably loop if you spend too much time in a scene, but the quality was so good I didn't really care. Voice acting was again very solid and the sound effects are even more varied than ever before.
Gameplay - 9:
The combat has been and continues to be amazing in this series. It has not really changed much over the years, but the formula works so I cannot fault the developers for that. Some of the puzzles still annoyed me, and there were times I thought the platforming led me to a couple of cheap deaths, but frequent checkpoints kept me from loosing my cool too often.
A very important note: Quicktime events. I hate them most of the time. They are heavily used in the Chains of Olympus and God of War 1 & 2 - so why didn't I bring that up? Well, to be honest, most people just accept them now. I've had a mini-rant about these in the past in other game reviews, and I just don't like them. They take my focus off of what is happening on the screen, and if I try to take in the action I - well, it can mess up the actual progression and get you killed. I just really do not like them. So, why am I bringing it up now?
Because Sony Santa Monica handled them brilliantly. Did I mess up several times? Sure, but they did something very different than most companies. Usually Quicktime events show up as a button press in the middle of your screen, covering up what's going on and generally just annoying me. Here, they put the triangle on top, X on the bottom, circle on the right and square on the left with a sort of faded white background. Kind of hard to explain, but a) it doesn't cover the action and b) I know which button to press based on periphery vision. I was able to enjoy what was happening on-screen without having to panic half the time. There are other Quicktime events too - like rotating the analog stick, tapping the shoulder buttons and my poor Circle button got abused in these three games (you pound on it lots) - I could have done without all of those all of the time. But, if more games followed God of War 3's lead on the button presses, I'd be a lot happier in general.
Intangibles - 7:
Off all the God of War games, I think this one might have taken me the longest to beat, but that's not saying much - I still probably won in ten or elven hours. There are varied levels of difficulty, things you can unlock like costumes and powers for subsequent playthroughs, and another set of trial/challenges to keep you busy. Still, none of the games in this series do much to keep me playing a 2nd time through, and unfortunately I suspect that this game will fall into the same category despite how excellent the adventure itself is.
Overall - 8.75:
This game can be found at Gamestop for $15 used. The replay value is lacking, but the game itself is completely worth it at the used prices you can find it at now. Not even slightly kid-friendly, this outings is even more verbally, sexually and violently explicit than any of Kratos' other adventures I've played. The game feels incredibly polished and while some of the puzzles and jumps frustrated me from time to time, it was an excellent overall experience.