In 2010, God of War III was a fantastic game full of Greeks, gore and grandiose scale. It built upon the satisfyingly violent combat of its predecessors by adding more abilities and ways to kill, and by increasing the scope of its Herculean presentation with one simple task: kill all gods. Now, with the release of the Remastered version, its magnificent corridors, vistas and bloody carcasses have never looked better. Kratos’ story may stumble at times, and despite being a supposedly retooled edition, God of War III Remastered does little more than improve the visuals. Fortunately, the same brilliant game full of atmospheric touches, smooth gameplay, stunning camera angles and ancient melodrama still exists. The finale of Kratos’ revengeful journey is one that exudes epic; it is a finale that everyone should play.
For those of you that are unaware, the God of War series takes the form of a third person action game that relies heavily on hack n’ slash combat. While Kratos has always used his Blades of Chaos superbly, the added 60 frames per second of this remastered version increases the smoothness of combat significantly; swipes and jabs flow together nicely with a colourful visual streak towards enemies. The game begins with only one weapon available, but as it progresses you gain the usage of different armaments and abilities. While a few of these are simply re-skinned variants of Kratos’ signature blade, others are uniquely useful: the bow of Apollo is a handy tool for chipping away at beasts from afar, while the Blade of Olympus is a powerful sword that can deal immense damage for a short period of time. These weapons offer different ways to play, and coincide with God of War’s main tenets: variety and ease of combat. Although complicated combos are present, and may add more skill and finesse to the game, tapping square and triangle in succession is still a viable means to an end. Players that want victorious results either quickly or in style can do so at their heart’s content.
The combat is, of course, an awesome part of the God of War experience, but it is the aftermath of such battles that garners the most attention. Violence is a key component to the series, and in the third game, bloody carnage reigns through a number of quick-time events following each fight. Giant fingernails are ripped off Titans, heads are ripped off sun gods, eyes are ripped out of Cyclopes, guts are ripped out of centaurs; a lot of activity that might make both Jack the Ripper and Ripper Roo faint in horror. Spurts of blood follow these incursions, and while some may find the violence to be over the top and unnecessary, I feel that it concludes each boss battle satisfyingly; Kratos’ revenge is that much more complete if his arrogant adversaries are writhing around in gory agony.
Like the main character himself, the violence also successfully captures the true essence of Greek mythology, creating an authentic representation of the source material. The protagonist’s overzealous rage may seem to be a flaw of one-sided characterisation, but his angry persona is no different to those of the countless other figures of ancient literature before him. Heracles was a bullish killer, Odysseus was an arrogant hypocrite and even Zeus was an over adventurous rapist. God of War III utilises Kratos to highlight the tragic flaws of mythological heroes tenfold. Furthermore, fury may be the stand out element of his personality, but facets of self deprecation, torment and delusion pepper his usually surly portrayal, indicating that he is in fact a deeper and more interesting character than others have led you to believe.
The story that envelops Kratos is simple yet fascinating. The former god of war is led on a mission by the earth Titan Gaia to topple Mount Olympus and its pantheon of deities. As each god falls, the world is continually altered for the worse. The seas rise because of Poseidon’s death, and souls retreat from the underworld when Hades’ corpse is crafted. This idea of the earth’s forces being controlled by a particular god adds an interesting physicality to the usually metaphorical roles given to the actual figures of Greek mythology. Whiles this appealing thread runs throughout the story, its simplicity becomes muddled along the way through a number of unnecessary additives. The plot involving Pandora and Hephaestus is truly perplexing, and feels like a forced inclusion used to provide superfluous depth. The same can be said for the use of Athena as an enemy of Zeus, who apparently “changed her mind” somewhere between the second and third game from advocate to antagonist of her father. Both sub-stories remain confusing throughout, suggesting that these plot lines were little more than clueless afterthoughts in comparison to Kratos’ fantastic jaunt towards revenge.
The atmosphere and style of God of War III Remastered is also wholly genuine in fashioning the world of ancient Greece. Heavy choir music penetrates the river Styx, producing melancholic thoughts of death and suffering; stone columns, facades and temples rise with magnificence in every scene; the planes of heaven, earth and hell remain distinct from one another through changes in weather, music and architectural style. Every piece of the environment has been elaborately designed in stunning detail, adding further to the epic themes of the game. This visual splendour has also been heightened with the addition of a fresher sheen in 1080p: hard surfaces have become intensified in terms of their texture, rain coats wooden structures with an inherent slipperiness and Kratos’ grey skin becomes coated in sickly thick splashes of blood. Its looks produce entirely realistic locales and textured qualities despite the game’s fantastical setting.
The game’s epic nature may shine through in the design of its environments, but the fixed camera angles add to this level of scale. The camera remains focused on whatever is most important in that scene, be it a group of battling gods, an oversized horse crab monster, or a simple shot of Kratos sprinting down a marble corridor. This fixity may seem like a static addition, but it in fact increases the dynamic character of each section through the introduction of cinematic perspective. At one point, Kratos battles the enslaved Kronos: the fight sees the diminutive Ghost of Sparta climbing over the body of the behemoth as the Titan swats at him hopelessly; smaller enemies battle on top of his arms and stomach. The battle is one of constantly moving scenery, and is just a sole example of many that emphasises God of War III’s truly epic form through wide camera angles.
For extras, Remastered contains a photo mode in which screen shots can be taken at any time, during play or cutscenes, and can be altered using a wide array of frames and shaders. While this is a nice addition, I feel that it only caters for a select group that are already interested in the photography, or selfies. Apart from that, the usual amount of challenges, costumes and extra difficulties have been included to increase the game’s replayability, giving you an extra task after the credits roll.
God of War III Remastered does not mess with a classic. The visuals and smoothness of the game may have been altered to aid in ease of experience and play, but apart from that, little else has been done. It is still the same fantastic game full of blood and shouting and epic moments from start to finish. It is a joy to play with its tirelessly fun combat and satisfyingly brutal boss finishers. Kratos screams from night to noon, but this angry persona is only one facet of his emotional personality. God of War III Remastered is an unforgettable adventure of epic scope and violence, fully deserving of a place amongst the Titans of PlayStation’s brilliant mythology.
This should be the centaur of your attention.