Welcome back everyone (you are there, right?) to “D.G.M.’s Gaming Life Before Gaming Respawn”. In last week’s article I began discussing the God of War series, so now I will end the discussion in Part 23 of my feature. Enjoy.
God of War III (PS3)
This game is easily my second favorite game of the series, barely losing out to God of War II. Taking place immediately after the gripping finale of GOW II, this game has Kratos joining forces with the titans and climbing up Mount Olympus to do away with the pesky gods once and for all. After a visually explosive battle in which Kratos and Gaia take down Poseidon, God of the Seas, they get blasted off Mount Olympus by Zeus himself, and yet again Kratos finds himself plummeting down to the Underworld, kingdom of Hades. What follows is a gore fest in which Kratos slices and smashes his way through countless enemies, all so he could find the fabled Flame of Olympus and use it to do away with Zeus. Honestly, I was somewhat disappointed with how the battle between the titans and gods played out. I was expecting a bigger blowout after God of War II‘s ending tantalizingly teased us with a glimpse of the imminent war between the supreme rulers of the world, instead a large portion of it seems to play out in the background. Despite that slight hiccup, this game was awesome, although it was largely just a much prettier looking version of God of War II.
Enemy variety, as always, was impressive. Kratos took on more of the same old monsters he had torn to pieces before: undead soldiers, gorgons, harpies, cerberus hounds, clyclopes, and satyrs. There were some new enemies as well like jumbo sized centaurs, chimeras, and moving statues with clubs. These enemies were fun enough to slay, though it wasn’t really until the last quarter of the game where I felt they threw enough enemies at you to actually make them real threats, whereas I felt that GOW II had you fighting more challenging groups of enemies more often. The boss battles at least were a step up: Poseidon, Hades, Hercules (finally!), the gargantuan titan Cronos, a giant scorpion, and the appropriately epic final encounter with Zeus proved to be among the best boss battles in the entire series. The fact the game’s graphics were drop dead gorgeous also helped, all the enemies above looked supremely detailed, and the environments looked real enough to touch.
Kratos’ selection of weapons was also increased, and each one had its own magic based attack, which was a change from the previous games’ formula of giving Kratos two or three different weapons to wield and several other magic attacks that were their own separate abilities. Kratos’ Blades of Exile worked like all his previous chained blades, and their magic-based attack was an area of effect move where Kratos is surrounded by the souls of his fallen Spartan brethren wielding spears and shields (300-style). The Claws of Hades let Kratos summon the souls of monster enemies like gorgon or cyclopes to attack the enemies he’s currently facing. The Nemean Cestus let Kratos send out deadly shockwaves when he smashes the ground with them. The Nemesis Whip let Kratos release a blast of electricity to stagger and continuously damage his enemies. Pretty much all these weapons controlled very similarly, with the exception of the Nemean Cestus which were heavy and slow gauntlets capable of crushing even the strongest enemies with ease.
Kratos still also has his Golden Fleece and Icarus Wings to deflect enemy attacks and glide, respectively, and he also acquires other helpful items: the Bow of Apollo can shoot fire arrows, the Head of Helios can blind enemies and light up dark caves, and the Boots of Hermes let him scale certain walls and strike enemies with a high speed dash attack. Finally, he has his Rage of Sparta ability where he wields the Blade of Olympus and strikes down enemies with improved attack power and greatly increased speed. Being able to temporarily ride stronger enemies like cyclopes and cerberus hounds to destroy many enemies is pretty cool too. Puzzles once again make a return to shake things up, as do the new set-pieces where Kratos must use the Icarus Wings to fly at high speeds through very narrow tunnels while barely avoiding obstacles like beams, barriers, and falling boulders. Overall, this game does about everything right, although I thought the story’s narrative and enemy variety kind of fell short compared to the previous game. However, the ending was phenomenal, and even though it wasn’t the last game in the series, it was Kratos’ final adventure within the series’ established lore and closed it out with a bang. God of War III gets a score of 94%.
God of War: Ghost of Sparta (PSP/PS3)
This was the second game released on the PSP, which was then thankfully released with Chains of Olympus in the God of War: Origins Collection for the PS3. Ghost of Sparta basically took everything from Chains of Olympus and improved upon it. The combat, the controls, the graphics, all of it was done much better in this game. I even liked the story better. Taking place after the first God of War and before God of War II, this game opens with Kratos having a vision that reveals his long lost brother Deimos is still alive somewhere, and that the answers to his whereabouts could be found in the city of Atlantis (which ends up being sunk by Kratos, so that answers the question as to how it ended up underwater). Anyway, the main reason why I liked the story for this game so much was due to how much we find out about Kratos’ past, like who his mother was and the relationship between Kratos and Deimos. He even gets to take a stroll along the city of Sparta, which was amusing.
The gameplay is even more fast-paced than any other GOW game that came before (and after) it, and that is because there are basically no puzzles to work your way through. When Kratos is not fighting enemies, he’s navigating through bridges or hallways that are about to collapse and using his blades to slide down steep hills or cliffs before jumping to another cliff or even a boss. The enemies Kratos fights are very similar to the ones in Chains of Olympus: undead soldiers, minotaurs, cyclopes, and some new ones like half-human, half-fish Atlantean warriors, large yeti-like creatures, and female wraiths. The bosses are great too: there’s the sea monster and opening boss Scylla, Kratos’ mother-turned-monster Callisto, the female, demonic bird creature Erinys, a large lion monster, Kratos’ pissed-off brother Deimos, and Thanatos, the father of Erinys and God of Death.
Kratos once again has a great collection of weapons and magic abilities with which he can do away with his enemies. His Blades of Athena return, and he later acquires his old Spartan spear and shield that he can use to attack enemies up close and from a distance (Arms of Sparta), an amulet that releases a continuous blast of electricity (Eye of Atlantis), a horn that can freeze enemies with a gust of arctic wind (Horn of Boreas), and the ability to charge the Blades of Athena with volcanic fire so he can damage armored enemies and break through armored barriers (Thera’s Bane). As I mentioned before, Kratos controls better than he did in Chains of Olympus, and the context sensitive controls, specifically when Kratos interacts with the environment and activates QTEs, are much improved. Kratos’ added ability where he can tackle smaller enemies and pummel them with his fists is something I would like to see more of in other games. Definitely one of the better GOW games, and easily comparable to the other main console games, though it is kind of short. God of War: Ghost of Sparta gets a score of 92%.
God of War: Ascension (PS3)
The most recent (and last?) game in the GOW series, God of War: Ascension, was unfortunately my least favorite game starring the perpetually pissed-off Spartan warrior. Taking place earlier than any other game in the series, even Chains of Olympus, this game follows Kratos being tormented by the Furies, a trio of supernatural beings who serve the gods of Olympus, for breaking his oath to serve Ares since the God of War orchestrated the death of Kratos’ family by tricking the Spartan into killing them himself. The story was structured kind of strangely since it begins with Kratos fighting the Furies in and outside the body of an enormous giant known as the Hecatonchires, then it jumps back to three weeks earlier when the Furies’ minions first track down Kratos in the village of Delphi. This flashback/flashforward deal occurs more than once in the narrative, and I just didn’t see any reason for it, all it did was unnecessarily complicate what is an otherwise simple story.
Some changes were added to the gameplay which I personally found to be gimmicky and, again, unnecessary. Whereas Kratos could previously grab weaker enemies whenever he wanted and choose from several different execution methods to finish them off, and also grab stronger enemies when weakened, Ascension added some tethering element where Kratos uses his Blades of Chaos to grab enemies from a distance, but only after stunning them; even weaker enemies had to be stunned. Not a bad change, but not a game-changing one either. This game also had a much stronger focus on platforming and climbing sections than before, and coupled with the surprisingly large amount of backtracking in the first half of the game, Ascension felt like quite a slog at times. Another change I didn’t really love was how Kratos relies solely on his Blades of Chaos to slay his enemies. Gone are the multiple weapons and separate magic abilities that could be mixed and matched creatively. Instead, Kratos gains access to different elemental abilities that he channels into his blades: the Fire of Ares, Ice of Poseidon, Lightning of Zeus, and Soul of Hades.
Each elemental ability gives Kratos access to a different set of combos with his blades, but that’s not much variety in my opinion. And it’s not like one elemental ability is extra effective against specific enemies. There are temporary sub-weapons Kratos can take from enemies or find laying around the environment like swords, clubs, javelins, slings, and shields which work well enough, but are nothing out of this world either. Rather annoyingly, Kratos’ standard combos are very limited, but filling up his Rage meter puts him in a state where his combos can be extended and do more damage. Unfortunately, the Rage meter will quickly empty out again should Kratos stop attacking for more than a couple of seconds or get hit by enemy attacks. Kratos also gains a few other special items on his journey which mostly serve to advance through the environment: the Amulet of Uroboros allows Kratos to decay and repair destroyed portions of the environment and slow down targeted enemies, the Oath Stone of Orkos creates a shadowy double of Kratos that can attack enemies and hold levers and such so Kratos can advance through the doors and gates they open, and the Eyes of Truth can remove illusionary barriers that block Kratos’ progress.
Some of the enemies are largely the same as those in GOW III, like cyclopes, chimeras, centaurs, gorgons, and moving statues with clubs, and there are the satyr enemies which replace the undead soldiers from the previous games. New enemies include mutated people being controlled by strange insects and elephant-like creatures called juggernauts. The bosses were also not bad, with Kratos doing battle against a huge, bug-like monstrosity, a dragon-like manticore, the freakishly conjoined twins Castor and Pollux, and multiple encounters with the Furies themselves. This was also the first GOW game to feature a multiplayer element, which I usually don’t care for, but I was surprised to find myself revisiting the multiplayer many times, especially the co-op challenges where I team up with another player to take on many monster enemies. All things considered, this was a decent game by its own right, but an underwhelming GOW game. God of War: Ascension gets a score of 73%.
That concludes my discussion of the legendary God of War series, one of my most loved video game series around. While the last game was kind of a dud compared to its predecessors, the series still stands strong. There have been rumors of a “God of War IV” being released someday, and even though God of War III closed out the series appropriately, its brief post-credits scene could easily be seen as a hint that there is more on the horizon. While I’m not holding my breath on the series continuing, I would still be interested in the possibility. Join me next week for Part 24 of “D.G.M.’s Gaming Life Before Gaming Respawn” where I will discuss the games I played based on one of my other favorite Marvel heroes: the Hulk. In the meantime, take a look at more of our site’s literature (we’ve got a crapload of reviews for you this time):
We’ve got some new blood joining our ranks here at Gaming Respawn, and one such newbie named Will Worrall has undertaken a daunting quest: To dedicate a feature to discussing and scoring every 3D platformer video game known to man. I know I’ll be keeping after this feature, and not just to see how long it could last, assuming it ever ends. Check out Part 1 of Will’s “GenreQuest: 3D Platformers” feature right here. Then check out Part 2 here.
Other newbie Steve Gill earns his first Gaming Respawn stripes with a review of the alien busting game XCOM 2, which you can take a look at by using your cursor or finger to probe this link right over here (be gentle, please).
Not one to be overshadowed by our shiny new recruits, Ian has prepared a review of the first portion of the new episodic Hitman title. You can find his review by setting your crosshairs right here.
Anthony also joins in on the fun with a review of Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth, which you can find here.
Taking this apparent “review competition” another step further, Ian provides us with a review of yet another Ubisoft title that needs no introduction, The Division, which you can check out here.
And finally, Jorge has prepared a review of the Pokémon/Tekken amalgamation game that is Pokkén Tournament. Check it out here.