The End Has Begun

God of War III is finally upon us. Kratos' quest for vengeance comes to an end, but not before we're treated to one of the most awe-inspiring outings gaming has ever seen. Believe the hype; this is a reason to own a PS3.
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: March 8, 2010
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Warning: Minor Spoilers Within

Reviewing games is such an easy process. I may bitch and moan from time to time about the struggles of quantifying an experience into a simple 20 point grade or struggling to come up with the right words to describe things, but these pale in comparison to spending years to create a follow-up to one of the most powerful and beloved franchises in the PlayStation pantheon. I hem and haw for a few hours and then barf out a bunch of words. The boys and girls at Sony's Santa Monica Studios are saddled with what is likely the biggest game they'll release in the first half of the PlayStation 3's lifespan.

So imagine, then, the kind of burden that must be carried by the person helming the God of War projects. It's clearly the stuff of burden and burnout; the series has had three directors in as many games, and yet, unlike any trilogies I can recall that tapped multiple directors, God of War manages to remain at the forefront of subtle storytelling and in-your-face carnage. That's a tightrope walk I wouldn't ask even my most hated enemy to walk, and it's something that three people, now, have had to endure.

There was a lot of talk when God of War II came out about the game being a PS3 effort. As has been mentioned more than a few times already, that was something that was a very real possibility and the game was essentially developed with the idea at the back of the studio's mind until that was stamped out and the decision was made to keep the game on the PS2. The results, not surprisingly, were spectacular; the PS2 was more than able to churn out the kind of experience needed to really one-up the original, and in nearly every way, it's a better game.

The concern, certainly, must have been voiced about closing out the series on entirely new hardware. The engine had to be rewritten, pulled apart, mangled and stretched like so much taffy. The story needed to bookend with the original game. The leap in technology required that one of -- if not the -- defining experiences on the PlayStation 2 had to be met on it successor with all the necessary improvements to fidelity and scope that the additional muscle and HD resolution would require. So did they do it? Did Santa Monica Studios pull out a three-peat?


And... no.

Discussing the "story" in God of War must seem, to some, to be the kind of bizarre ramblings of some otaku anime superfan; dissecting narratives and finding hidden meaning where there really is none. On the surface, the story is simple: Kratos, about to face his end, pledges to sell his servitude to Ares, the god of War, in exchange for the means to defeat his enemies as the leader of the Spartan army. He gets it, ends up slaughtering his family by accident, is cursed to wear their ashes as a symbol of his bloodlust and eventually kills Ares and becomes the new god of War. Then the rest of the gods, petty and jealous and all those things the romans and greeks figured gods were, decided they didn't like the idea of a mortal being a god. In the end, it was Zeus himself -- Kratos' daddy -- that tried to kill him before he battled back from Hades (twice, if anyone's counting) and mounted a massive offensive on the shoulder of Gaia, one of the freed Titans just as hungry for revenge against Zeus as Kratos.
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