Friday, April 16, 2010

GOD OF WAR 3 - A BADASS VIDEO GAME REVIEW PART 2



GOD OF WAR 3 A BADASS VIDEO GAME REVIEW Part 2

GOD OF WAR 3 is so ridiculously good that I had to hack, slash, and pummel my way through the entire game before coming back and writing another review installment. The game sticks with the vengeful spirit of the franchise and either maintains it or ratchets key elements (such as onscreen violence) up a notch or two. Furthermore, as the game progresses, it gets prettier and prettier. No wonder it took Sony three years to bring this to the table. They cut no corners whatsoever. If Kratos is in a castle, it is opulent. If he is in a forest, the greenery is idyllic. If he is dodging balls of lava, you feel the heat. In my first time through, I found one glitch that forced me to fight an extremely harrowing battle again. The glitch (which I will mention when I chronicle that part of the game) and a button issue (which I address at the end of this episode of the review) are the only problems that I have experienced so far. Otherwise gameplay is seamless. The controllers respond perfectly, and the story that is being presented is fascinating.

In my personal life, all other media intake has ground to a standstill. Compared to GOW 3, movies, music, and television really sound like muddled voices calling to me from the unseen end of some underwater tube. But alas, in my gushing, I digress. I will do my best to keep my reporting on Kratos’ adventure as free from big spoilers as possible.

Part of what makes Kratos work so well is that he is a proxy for everyman. Kratos is a man who is in too deep and is lashing back at everything. He accidentally slaughtered his family while in a blind rage, he has an issue with the gods, and he is going all in with his Blades of Exile because he has NOTHING TO LOSE. Kratos represents a man who simply doesn’t give a damn about the consequences. He is free in the sense that he has already lost everything and died as both a man and a god yet still functions. “Death cannot hold those with purpose,” is what Athena says to him. Kratos has a singular purpose, and that is to wreck each and every beloved character in classic Greek mythology.

Kratos has been to hell and back in each incarnation of the GOW series, and he goes back to Hades two more times before GOW 3 ends.

Part one of this review ended with Kratos finishing off Poseidon. Directly after that and Gaia’s betrayal, he dives headlong into the River Styx and enters Hades to knock out the god of the underworld. Before Kratos can put his Spartan boot up Hade’s brimstone ass, he has to deal with waves and waves of enemies and puzzles.

Hades looks like a portly lead singer for a GWAR-type metal band. He has a vented, horned helmet on his head, and his shirtless torso is punctured with randomly placed needles and spikes. Hades carries himself like a cross between SOUL CALIBUR’s Astaroth and the TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE’s Leatherface. Hades is a big, beefy man with a well-fed belly and this crazy new weapon called “The Claws of Hades.” The atmosphere of the battle with the god of the underworld is gloomy and drab. The aforementioned claws that he uses against Kratos glow as they rip into all that are in their path. Hades swings the claws in such ways that Kratos is both jumping and not jumping, like some form of hellish incarnation of DONKEY KONG. The hunks that Kratos rips out of Hades’ flesh (starting with an entire pectoral muscle and also featuring a hacked out love handle) crawl back to him, and need to be snuffed out before he can rebuild himself. More and more chunks are pulled from Hades until he resembles the Mutoid Man from SMASH TV. The arms of the damned reach out of the ground like Polanski’s REPULSION and Kratos has to get his scorched earth on. Every battle with each god that Kratos works through is varying degrees of epic warfare and hand to hand combat; Hades is no duckwalk.

Fresh out of hell, Kratos now tracks the sun god Helios to the city of Olympia which sits at the base of Mount Olympus. On his way there, he runs into Gaia one more time. Apparently, after Zeus wrecked her arm and threw her over the side of the mountain, she spent her time at the base of the mountain mustering up her power to get back to her battle with the gods. Kratos is done with the dirt-woman though, and he finishes wrecking her arm and shoves her out of the way. What is cool about this is that it is such a minor part of the game. Kratos has a brief moment where he actually puts the Titan known as Mother Earth in check. The urgency of Kratos’ murderous rampage has no time for minor Titans like Gaia. Zeus is Kratos’ target, and his intensity has caused him to become a complete revenge machine. Gaia is in the way, and Kratos has other enemies to slash through.

One such enemy is the Chimera that blocks Kratos’ attack on Helios, the next god up to bat. The Chimera is a freaky-looking snake/goat/lion creature that breathes fire. This goofy but dangerous abomination proves to be more of a headache than Helios himself. The fight is surprisingly difficult. The Chimera stands between the ballista that must be fired at the sun god and Kratos. Kratos forces Helios’ crash-landing and before he can reach the god, a bunch of Olympus guards cover Helios 300 Spartan-style. When a pissy Cyclops shows up, a couple of well placed slashes to the brute demonstrate that Kratos is now able to hop on the back of the Cyclops after it is damaged and control him like those little pig-brats with battle axes did in GOW 2. This method of cutting through opposition is one of the coolest aspects of GOW 3. This dispatching of Helios may be one of the weakest god-takedowns in the game, but it is worth it. With Helios’ head ripped clean-off, Kratos now has a portable flashlight-noggin that lights up dark areas and hidden treasures throughout the rest of the game. Furthermore, the head can be used as a stunner to flashburn nearby eyes.

Speaking of weapons, another cool part about this installation of the GOW franchise is that Kratos comes in armed with some of his previous tools. Most notable of these are the wings of Icarus (he killed Icky in part 2). These make for some spectacular flying sequences that help Kratos cover all sorts of vertical ground, both up and down in this version.

GOW 3 feels like the previous episodes of the franchise. The only complaint that I have heard is that the game is a “mash-fest.” The only reason a person is really going to mash the buttons to get through a situation is that they don’t know what they are capable of. Like any fighting game, the mashing of buttons might get the job done, but precise attacks guarantee it. The L2 button lets Kratos cycle through his growing list of magic weapons that he is amassing (such as Helios’ well-lit dome). The L1 button is used to inflict damage with standard weapons like the Blades of Exile or the Claws of Hades. As the game progresses, the PS3 controller becomes fully armed. Magic is released from the R2 button, and if I have one complaint about the game, that would be it. Perhaps it is the way that I hold the controller, but I tend to bump the R2 button randomly against my knee, and when magic is all you have to get a bunch of harpies and satyrs off of your back, you don’t want to misfire it over some BS real-time controller mishandling.

This game exceeds all of my expectations. I will publish another installment in the next bit as I work my way through the game a second time. Replay value? You have no idea.

-Mediasaurus Rex

GOD OF WAR 3 THE BADASS VIDEO GAME REVIEW PART 1

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