If there’s one area where Sony’s consoles excel, it’s in the abundance of character-driven action games each machine has had. It’s no stretch to say that Sony has enjoyed a lineup of easily identifiable characters possibly second only to Nintendo. Over the years we’ve had Crash Bandicoot, Jak and Daxter, Ratchet and Clank, Nariko (briefly) and, of course, everbody’s favourite embodiment of fury and rage: Kratos.
Everyone knows who Kratos is, and his grim visage and reputation for legendary acts of violence are known to gamers around the world. This is probably due largely to the amount of money Sony spent promoting the God of War series in the past and the subsequent hype that followed. But to say that Sony’s marketing muscle is the only reason for God of War’s success would be completely untrue – the God of War games really are some of the best action titles money can buy and shining examples of just how much careful design and precise tweaking can pay off. Now, after a long wait, God of War III has just been released for the PS3, amid the usual fanfare and hype-sustaining customs, like cosplay competitions and midnight launches, but does the PS3’s first God of War game live up to the sky-high expectations of its legion of loyal fans?
After starting the game, we are treated to a stylish intro reminiscent of 300, giving a full, brutal and almost balletic account of Kratos’s exploits since the first game. This intro is mandatory the first time, and cannot be skipped, but it’s so beautiful I can’t imagine anyone wanting to skip it. Once you get past this and start playing the game, you’ll be blown away by the sheer scale of what awaits. Now, we’re quite used to God of War starting out with a scenario most other action games can’t even match in their climax, but this is on an entirely different level. Those who suffer from vertigo or motion sickness would be advised to medicate themselves beforehand, as the camera flies up the unbelievably high cliffs of Mount Olympus before weaving in and out of the charge of the mighty Titans. Leading the charge, Kratos stands on the shoulder of Gaia as boulders rush past and the wind howls. It isn’t long before Gaia is attacked by Poseidon, and Kratos must fend him off. During this epic battle, Kratos will have to run along Gaia’s body, dangle precariously from her arms, and even take a shortcut through her chest to deal with Poseidon’s minions. If you aren’t impressed by the sheer scale, imagination and artistry of this single battle, then you’d probably best give up gaming altogether.