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Game Review: God of War III

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First Impressions

I’ll just quote what I wrote on the quick thoughts page on July 23, 2013.

This is the first God of War game that I’ve put a few hours into (I’m currently 3 hours into the game on normal difficulty). I partially understand the appeal of the franchise, but this game fails to meet my expectations. I came in expecting a top-shelf hack-and-slash action game with excellent combat. It has excellent production values, and the game looks, feels, and sounds like much effort went into it. The gameplay is disappointing.

GoW III’s gameplay comes in three parts: quick time events, combat, and traversal. Some games do quick-time events right (like Resident Evil 4 and Vanquish), but I don’t think that GoW3 is one of those games. The QTEs are far too constant to be enjoyable. The combat feels very shallow compared to something like Devil May Cry 4. Sure, GoW III’s combat system gives you options, but there is really no penalty to mashing the ‘light attack’ button and dodging when necessary. Traversal is OK, I guess.

Second Impressions

I beat the game, and my impression of it hasn’t really changed. The whole thing has high production values, it has way too many QTEs, and the combat seems very simplistic compared to DMC 4 and Bayonetta.

By the way, these ‘second impressions’ contain some minor spoilers for the game. Not revealing any plot points or anything (as I’ll be focusing on combat), but some weapon & item names might reveal something that you don’t want to know!

Combat

GoW III has four melee weapons and 3 special items. Here’s my breakdown of the weapons:

Melee Weapons

  1. Blades of Exile - standard GoW weapon
  2. Claws of Hades - Way too similar to the Blades of Exile; rarely used it
  3. Neman Cestus - Hulk Hands that seem to be way more powerful than any other weapon in the game
  4. Nemesis Whip - Late-game weapon; found little use for it besides its super (R2 button) move

Special Weapons

  1. Bow of Apollo - Plinks enemies; very useful for air enemies and okay for general combat
  2. Head of Helios - Stuns enemies; useless because most enemies seem immune and the stun time is way too short
  3. Boots of Hermes - Enables a charge/dash move; useless (except maybe to keep a combo going on?)

Basically, the flow of combat (on normal difficulty for me) went like this for most encounters:

Boring!

Three enemy types required different tactics. For two of these enemy types, there are on-screen tutorials for what you need to do. A third enemy type gave me tons of problems until I realized that you can just spam the grab attack (Circle) to successfully take care of them.

Some enemies are immune to anything but the Neman Cestus. There are no enemies that are immune to it. Basically, you are given every reason to use the Neman Cestus but little incentive to switch from it and try something different.

Contrast this with Devil May Cry 4’s Dante who has 3 melee weapons, 3 ranged weapons, 4 styles (plus one that you get at the end), and relatively little penalty for experimentation. No enemy is immune to any weapon, and all four styles have a purpose.

Basically, the takeaway is: I don’t like GoW III’s combat system and strongly prefer the combat of Bayonetta and DMC 4 to it. This is bad, because much of this game is combat.

Everything Else

I guess that God of War III is an okay game. But I must lay a closing spiel on you about the game’s violent content.

Violent Content

God of War III enjoys graphic violence, and it certainly made me feel bad for what I was causing to happen on-screen. Not bad enough to quit playing, but then again, I grew-up with Mortal Kombat II and such. The violence is important to the plot, but I don’t think that anything would have been lost with a reduction of graphic content. But overall, I took (slightly) more offense with the repetitive combat than I did the level of violence.


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