Developer: Santa Monica Studio
Release Date: July 14
This review will take into effect God of War III Remastered as both a video game in the present gaming landscape, while also taking into account Sony’s remastering efforts.
The depth of Greek mythology and the wonderful cast of creatures, Gods and characters that come with it make for the perfect backdrop for a video game. Santa Monica Studio took advantage of this field perfectly with the God of War trilogy, culminating in a fantastical finish with God of War III. Now, 5 years since making its debut on Sony’s previous console, Kratos makes his first PS4 appearance with God of War III Remastered, hoping to capture a new audience that may not be familiar with his story. As time has passed and gameplay, storytelling and technical changes have advanced the action genre, does a second look hold up a half-decade later?
Capping off the events of the two previous games, Kratos ascends upon Mt. Olympus, with the Titans in tow, in an effort to kill Zeus. That attempt proves futile, as he is cast down the mountainside all the way down to Hades, where Kratos is stripped of his immense power in the River Styx. With the Blades of Exile gifted to him by Athena, he must ascend to the heavens once more, slaying one Greek god after another on the slow climb towards the mountaintop. Up there, he must quench the Flame of Olympus in the ultimate attempt to slay Zeus and bring peace to ancient Greece.
Projecting now at a true 1080p HD with a floating (but never disappointing) 60 FPS frame rate, Kratos has never looked better.
Defeating one foe after another aids your progression in God of War III, as new weapons, skills and powerups are accumulated from Gods and beasts, alike. As your arsenal expands, Kratos can reach places he couldn’t reach, and opponents that were once troublesome fall much easier over time. Our protagonist doesn’t merely solve all his problems with his weapons, as he must solve room-based puzzles under the tensest of situations.
From the jump to the PS3 to the PS4, God of War III doesn’t skip a beat. Projecting now at a true 1080p HD with a floating (but never disappointing) 60 FPS frame rate, Kratos has never looked better. Whether it be taking down gods on the backs of titans or slaying scorpions in a dark hallway, the team did a good job of making sure the excellent combat mechanics at hand stayed true to what we’ve come to expect from Santa Monica. The crushed blacks that plagued previous titles were no more, as the game’s minimal lighting changes were enough
God of War III was a graphical marvel when it was released, but we’re talking about the PS4 now. While I appreciate the aforementioned enhancements made on the base game at hand, it seems that little was done to improving the quality of textures, environmental objects and character models within the game. Even worse, it appears as though the in-game cinematic sequences have remained untouched, with a hugely noticeable drop in graphical fidelity. It appears that they have not been improved in the five years since its PS3 release, in part dating the video game as a whole. The effort seemed to slow beyond “push up the resolution and frame rate,” and although that counts for something, I would have preferred a full effort for one of Sony’s greatest IP’s.
It wasn’t just the cinematics that felt dated; much-needed updates to the control scheme were not included in God of War III Remastered. Keeping the camera in an uncontrollable fixed state in an action game is a poor decision that robs players of agency (a respected trait in recent character action titles) but is used purposefully to hide collectibles and focus on specific cinematic angles. It makes skilled combat, puzzle-solving and platforming unnecessarily obtuse. Furthermore, the implemented photo mode is diminished because of this, as you cannot change the angles or adjust the depth of field. It is there purely for social media sharing and marketing purposes, feeling like it was slapped together at the last minute.
Outside of the inability to move the camera, God of War III’s action is functionally rewarding.
At the heart of God of War III lies an amicable story with a supreme voice cast. Despite the weakened reasoning behind Kratos’ reign of terror and his negative demeanor, the plot stays true to that of an authentic Greek tragedy. Rife with compelling back stories of varying mythical entities adapted to fit its video game setting, I was completely immersed into the presented setting, with a conflicted godslayer who brings woe to those around him.
Immersion is important when setting the mood, as the story weaves its brutal combat into an amalgamated tour de force. Outside of gratuitous of use QTE’s on seemingly every monster (which, granted, come with the action game territory), they help to set Kratos as an unwavering menace. Better yet, the impact that the story takes on those who oppose Kratos affect his abilities to progress through the game, unlocking new abilities in a keenly clever manner. It helps tie story and gameplay together in a way that makes sure one doesn’t overshadow the other.
Speaking more to combat, outside of the inability to move the camera, God of War III’s action is functionally rewarding. Not only are players rewarded for mixing up their combat styles, weapons and maneuvers when facing swaths of mixed-creature encounters, but the moves necessary have a strong visual payoff. Drawing out ghouls underneath the ground with hooked daggers or drawing out magical creatures hiding in the ether works to reinforce variety, and variety is very much the spice of life in this game.
When many think about God of War III, to a point many will remember the game’s remarkable opening, up to and including the engagement with Poseidon. This brilliant set piece quickly establishes a frantic pace while incorporating the best of most of the game’s basic elements; platforming, combat and dialogue. It sets a high standard right from the get-go, and unfortunately, I found it could not reach that same level of excellence throughout the rest of my time with the title.
God of War III’s pacing is extremely bookended, with a compelling start and end. While the boss battles do liven things up throughout the middle, all forward momentum comes to a crawl during a specific garden setting. As much as I genuinely loved that entire area as its own inclusion within the game, it sapped the life out of the constant tension facing Kratos throughout the many set pieces. Throw in an unnecessary sex QTE minigame with the wife of someone you immediately claim (less than a minute later) to “do no wrong” to and you have some questionable decisions that make Kratos feel campy at times.
When it comes down to it, God of War III Remastered is Sony’s push to a potential new generation of PlayStation gamers. This is their chance to show off a prime Sony exclusive that those who made the jump from Nintendo or Xbox might have missed out prior to the PS4. That said, I am completely dumbfounded as to the reasoning behind releasing the third game of a trilogy by its own without releasing the prior entries first. A game close to full retail price on launch, no less.
By not packaging the entire trilogy as a collection (which has already been done on the PS3), new PlayStation owners are extremely limited in their options of obtaining a full God of War gameplay experience. They can choose to opt for PS Now and pay exorbitant prices to rent a sub-standard version of the series, buy a PS3 and the God of War collection together or watch the previous entries in a Youtube walkthrough. Because of this fact, the influence of God of War III Remastered is inherently weakened as a result.
God of War III Remastered relies mostly on the excellence of the game at heart over its effort as a PS4 port.
It tells the end of an epic story that players are likely not to fully grasp due to a lack of prior knowledge. Without proper context of the prior series entries, as a protagonist, Kratos is borderline unlikeable. He does little to redeem himself, putting the thirst for revenge over the importance of saving humanity. At face value, the main contributing factor that gives him any grounding as a hero is that Zeus et al are portrayed with a cruel evil, propagating their self-worth at a rate more advanced than Kratos.
The reason to drive this point home is because God of War III is a great game. It is inherently built with a prior story in mind, and does its best to conclude a brilliant concept. Unfortunately, by remastering the conclusion first, it puts the entire flow of the story out of whack, much to the detriment of the series itself.
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God of War III Remastered relies mostly on the excellence of the game at heart over its effort as a PS4 port. While a native 1080p resolution and an unlocked 60 FPS output makes this edition run better than anywhere else, it’s what this remastered effort lacked that severely limits its recommendation. If you are new to the series, it’s hard to suggest picking up the finale first. If you already own God of War III, its launch price is too steep for a revisit right away. It’s only in the rare instances that you played only the first two games in the series (or if you don’t care about the story whatsoever) that makes this remaster worth the “must-own” accolade its PS3 counterpart earned.
A copy of this game was provided to GameSided for the purpose of this review. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.
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