>God of War 3

>I took a sick day yesterday – because I was sick – and so I managed to play the entirety of God of War 3 while I was home.

The short version is that while it’s good, it’s not as good as God of War 2. Even if the graphics are technically snazzier, and it does amazing things with scale and perspective, it’s not nearly as inspired as GOW2. It’s paced well enough, and it still does its style of combat better than anyone else, but it’s just not particularly memorable.

I don’t necessarily have a long version just yet; at the end of the day, the game doesn’t really warrant that much discussion. And that’s mostly because Kratos is one of the least likable protagonists in the medium. When he’s kicking ass, he’s great – and he kicks a lot of ass over the course of these 3 games. But in the cutscenes, he’s a one-dimensional, sociopathic vengeance machine, so maniacally single-minded in purpose as to be completely unrelatable.

Now, let’s be clear – this is a man who ends up killing hundreds and thousands of people, monsters, and (eventually) gods – there’s not a lot here that is relatable to the average American 20-something. (Hopefully.) His tragedy and his raison d’etre is that he was “tricked” into killing his own family; but rather than looking at himself and seeing his own part in this, he instead has sworn revenge on anybody and everybody that might have been tangentially involved in the ruse. And so it goes; over the course of 3 games (roughly 24 hours of gameplay, all told), he exacts his revenge, tells anybody he encounters to get the fuck out of his way, and then rips off their heads if they don’t move quickly enough.

Ironically enough, the final third of GoW3 tries to make him the tiniest bit human again, to have something to care about besides killing everything he sees, to instill a sense of hope rather than revenge. I’m particularly curious to see how that fares with the rest of the target demographic; most of the reviews I’ve read seem a little down on the ending, and that’s probably because it feels a little clunky and out of place. I thought it was too little and too late.

The game itself also suffers a bit from a lack of ambition. Let me make myself clear; the game apparently had a $50 million budget, so it’s not like they weren’t trying to make it amazing. The problem is that, as I said above, the game isn’t particularly memorable. There are certainly a few set-pieces that are jaw-dropping, and there’s one puzzle in the later half of the game that’s actually pretty interesting in an M.C. Escher / Echochrome kind of way, but it’s not terribly difficult to figure out and it’s over with much too quickly. But the rest of the game takes place in rather non-descript dungeons and towers – come to think of it, it reminded me quite a bit of Prince of Persia in places, but without the magic.

If you must play a God of War game, I think 2 is the way to go, especially with the PS3 HD makeover. 3 certainly isn’t bad; it’s just not as good.

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