But then, in spite of this being the “final” God of War game, there’s always room for more Titans in any potential sequels – and the ending, conclusive as it is, leaves that door propped open ever so slightly. If you’re a God of War fan, though, it may not be quite the ending you were hoping for. If you’re expecting to see Kratos redeem himself, learn the true meaning of friendship or be tearfully reunited with his dead wife and daughter in the Greek afterlife – don’t.
Above: This man will never change
At the same time, though, the plot manages to derail itself into cheesy, mawkish sentimentality about “hope” more than once, which feels awkward coming from such a relentlessly amoral franchise. Throw in a viciously cheap final boss and a too-long sequence that steals liberally from Max Payne’s overdose-fueled nightmares, and you’ve got an endgame that skirts awfully close to satisfying, but never quite gets there.
Still, these problems are fairly minor, and while the ending to the saga is what it’s all been leading up to, it’s a relatively small part of a 10-hour (give or take) experience that constantly delivers cool new areas to explore and diverse monsters that are a joy to fight.
It also boasts a pantheon’s worth of memorable characters – including messenger-god Hermes as a genuinely infuriating pest, and Zeus’s wife Hera as a stumbling society drunk – and features top-notch vocal performances from the likes of Malcolm McDowell, Rip Torn, Adrienne Barbeau and Kevin Sorbo (three guesses who he plays). In the unlikely event that this actually is the last God of War, it’s a pretty classy way to close out the series.
Bayonetta? Depends on what you want out of a game like this. Do you relish memorizing complicated combos, enduring punishing difficulty and having your success hinge on how stylish you are in combat? Then Bayonetta is more your speed. On the other hand, if you want something slightly more casual and accessible, with relatively uncomplicated action, gargantuan puzzles and buckets of gore, then odds are you’ll like God of War III a lot better.
Dante’s Inferno? Yes, but not quite to the degree you’d expect. Much as it was seemingly reviled by pretty much everyone on general principle alone, Dante’s Inferno actually did a pretty good job emulating God of War’s formula, even though it never quite got the difficulty or fun right. And while God of War III is much prettier, and has evolved its formula just enough to stay ahead of its imitators, it’s not such a bold leap forward as to leave Dante choking to death on its dust. It is, however, much more fun to plunge through, has far more interesting characters and is a whole hell of a lot less bleak.
Darksiders? Yes. Much as Darksiders styled itself as a Zelda clone, the combat was pure God of War – minus the quick time events, of course. And while GoW III doesn’t have Darksiders’ sorta-free-roaming structure, its combat is a hell of a lot more interesting, its monsters are more diverse and its QTEs are actually a lot more fun than Darksiders’ total lack thereof. Also, GoW III never has to pad out its runtime with any mandatory bullshit arena challenges, so that’s a big plus right there.
While not a huge leap forward for the franchise, God of War III refines its already-fun gameplay to near-perfection while delivering the clever puzzles, high production values and pure, rage-fueled brutality fans expect. Add a memorable cast of characters and buckets of gore, and Kratos’s last adventure is also his best yet.
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