The End Has Begun
But the camera is only one part of a greater whole. A visual presentation clearly designed to make you rethink how games of this scale should look -- in any medium. The sheer size and volume of the things that take up space in God of War III may well be the talk of Game Developers Conferences to come, not because it's big stuff in a big skybox, but because it's gorgeously animated stuff -- with cameras attached and swooping and doing little dolly and rail moves in 3D -- but because there's also a player doing stuff the whole time.
Literally the first 20 minutes of the game shove this in your face -- they also shove the most subtle motion blur, depth of field and ridiculous shadows there too, but you'll probably miss that -- as you're strapped to a titan, kicking the snot out of stuff as it's climbing a mountain, scenery slowly chugging away in the distance. It's not an over-exaggeration to say that Sony's Santa Monica Studio has done as much for the PS3 as they did for the PS2 with God of War II... and we're getting this in year three. Think about that for a second.
The advancements are legion; Kratos' model (as the dev team is all too happy to point out), is the same in every scene. They can zoom in on his face and get all the pores and infinitely more impressive facial animations, they can rip out the guts of enemies, they can render massive swathes of enemies with detail (though they often have the same animations). It doesn't matter. What does matter is that the same insane attention to character and detail in the environments is there -- and in spades. Here, of course, is the dilemma for someone like me: how do you do "old and emplaced" when it's a home of the gods?
The solution? Nothing is broken down. Nothing is battered. Nothing has ever been to Olympus in recent history and had a chance to mess it up. The result? Everything is immaculate. It's perfect, it's emblazoned with little feather textures in the reflective gold (yes, guys, I watched the special features). And yet... it's still as awe-inspiring as ever. In fact, the destruction of it is even more fist-pumpingly awesome than the pristine nature of the visuals, but the care shows.
The same goes for the audio -- well, save for TC Carson's first line, which sounds hilariously amateurish and out of place. Some have complained that Gaia (no longer voiced by Linda Hunt) is too "blah" for her size, but honestly everyone else holds up their end of things amazingly. In fact, I hope the voice team doesn't get offended when I say there's nothing specific to compliment. It's all good; rage is rage, despair is despair, hope is -- amazingly -- non-cheesy hope.. It all works.
But that leaves the sound effects and score, does it not? Weirdly, the score rather blended in with everything. I don't mean that in a bad way, but the bombastic choirs seemed to slacken a bit, and I do wonder if that's a 5.1 issue. You get enough stuff in the back channels, as they say, and you tend to forget about the rest. Even still, the grunts, clangs, screams and everything else were presented with plenty of surround sound luv.
God of War III is awesome. It falters, certainly, in closing things out as neatly as they began, but the more I thought about the implications of the ending and the series as a whole and what this game has brought to it, I honestly couldn't help but love the end result. Hardly perfect, but then, how many trilogies directed by three different people have you seen turn out anywhere near this good?