Archives by Day

July 2019

God of War III: Remastered

Platform(s): PlayStation 4
Genre: Action
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: SCEA Santa Monica
Release Date: July 14, 2015 (US), July 17, 2015 (EU)


PS4 Review - 'God of War III: Remastered'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on July 22, 2015 @ 12:15 a.m. PDT

Set in the realm of Greek mythology, God of War III allows players to take on the climatic role of the ex-Spartan warrior, Kratos, as he treads through Mt. Olympus and the dark depths of Hell to seek revenge on those who have betrayed him.

There are few games that fit the word "epic" as well as God of War. The game's sense of scale is unmatched by almost anything else in the genre. God of War IIII is the apex of the series, so it makes sense that it would be a prime candidate to be remastered. Every other game in the franchise, except the oft-forgotten God of War: Ascension, has received an updated port, and the third game is the most visually impressive of the lot. God of War III: Remastered is exactly that, and those looking for a more fully featured port may be disappointed.

In God of War III, Kratos has freed the Titans and claimed the Blade of Olympus. He's now leading his army to the peak of Mt. Olympus to slay Zeus, father of the gods (and Kratos' own father) for crimes both real and imagined. Things don't go smoothly, and Kratos is unable to slay the king of the gods. Athena, dead by his hand in the previous game, sends him a message from the afterlife: Seek the Flame of Olympus, the only thing that can grant Kratos the power to kill Zeus. Along the way, he'll fight from the depths of Hades to the heights of the mountains and beyond.

God of War IIII's plot is a tiny bit torn between two places. The core plot, which is the more interesting one, is about Kratos being a walking apocalypse. It's filled with terrible people being terrible, and horrible things happen because nobody can stop being a jerk. It's unpleasant in a compelling way. Unfortunately, this is tempered by a clumsy plot that involves a young girl and tries way too hard to make Kratos appear sympathetic. It takes up a good chunk of the game and doesn't really work in its favor. Kratos is at his best when he's the cause of his own downfall and raging about it. Sympathy sits poorly on his angry shoulders.

Kratos fights using long, sharp blades that are attached to his wrists. He can perform quick attacks and strong attacks, and he can blend them into different combos. The chains can also be used to grab opponents from a distance for brutal attacks, or Kratos can use them to pick up enemies and tear them apart with his bare hands. Blocking and dodging are key to survival, and timed button presses even let you parry enemy attacks, so you can stay on the offensive in the middle of a fight.

As the game progresses, Kratos unlocks different weapons, almost all of which are  long, chain weapons. The exception is the Cestus, a pair of lion-themed, hard-hitting gauntlets primarily used for close-range punching. Each of the four weapons also has a magic spell that can be cast; they're great "emergency" buttons you can use when you're in a bind.

One of the major changes in God of War III over the previous games is the addition of a Stamina system. It allows minor items, such as a bow and boots, to be used in combat without draining precious magic. Stamina is spent when you use a minor item, and it replenishes after a few seconds of non-use. This allows you to string these items into combos or use them more freely.

Combat is a bit difficult to judge in God of War. You can easily finish every fight by spamming a combo with your basic weapon. The game lacks the in-depth combo systems of Bayonetta or even the ranking system of Arkham Asylum. Its roots are more in the traditional beat-'em-up, where bashing enemies is the name of the game.

God of War III has some of the most interesting setpieces in video games. Generally, each area in the game has something dynamic going on. Since the plot is about an all-out assault on Mt. Olympus, you're going up against the biggest and baddest parts of mythology. The game throws Cerberuses (Cerberii?), Chimeras, Gorgons, and countless other mythological monsters at you, so Kratos is kicking the crap out of the pantheon's best and brightest. There is some recycling among enemy types, but it's covered up well enough that you won't notice, especially if you're busy fighting them. When the game goes all out, it has a sense of scale that's unmatched in the genre.

Unfortunately, "when it goes all out" is the key there. There are portions that just sort of meander, and unfortunately, God of War is at its worst when it is slow. You're fighting the same enemies in the same areas, and it feels like padding. The highs are breathtaking, but the lows make you wish Kratos were decapitating gods again. The opening fight against Poseidon is one of the most exciting opening sequences in a game, but the game suffers because nothing later on manages to surpass it.

Of course, most of what I've said will sound familiar to folks who played the original God of War III. The big addition to Remastered is full 1080p visuals running at 60 fps. It really does look amazing, especially with remastered character models. God of War III was one of the best-looking games of the prior generation, and almost five years later, it can still hold its own. It is a testament to the original game's visuals that a significant upgrade doesn't look that significant at first blush. Watching the battle against Poseidon at 60 fps really puts any doubts to rest. God of War III always looked great, but it looks better than ever here. There are a few things that give away it's a five-year-old game, even with the upgrades, but it is no small feat that Remastered holds its own among some of the best-looking, next-gen games on the market.

Alas, there is a significant blemish on the remastered visuals. The original game used prerendered videos in certain situations, but their inclusion was mostly seamless. Here, there is a very noticeable gap between the in-engine gameplay and the prerendered scenes, with the latter looking rather grainy. It's a testament to the rest of the HD remaster that the game quality looks good, but it really stands out when some of the most dynamic and interesting moments also look the worst. It's disappointing that these videos look so weak. Fortunately, they are relatively few and far between.

The big issue with God of War III: Remastered is that it is one of the poorer values I've encountered for an HD re-release. The visual upgrades are impressive, but they're not impressive enough to justify the cost. On top of that, it lacks any extra content. The biggest addition is a new Photo mode, which is similar to the feature in games like inFamous or Shadow of Mordor; it's fun for a little while but not worth a game purchase. While God of War III: Remastered is not the most expensive HD Remaster on the market, it has some of the least value. The $40 price tag is significantly overpriced when compared to other similar releases in recent memory. Other full- or near-full price remasters tended to include a significant amount of DLC. When compared to cheaper but more content-heavy HD ports like Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition, it seems overpriced.

At the end of the day, God of War III: Remastered is God of War III again. It's still a solid game with breathtaking visuals and fantastic production values. Any strengths or weaknesses of the original game are still present. The only thing that really holds back God of War III: Remastered from being a must-buy is the $40 price tag, which is too much for a single game with minor touch-ups. Fans of the series might be willing to jump on it, but anyone else would be better off waiting. If you decide to pick it up, you'll find a fun and fully featured game with some of the best visuals on the market.

Score: 8.0/10

More articles about God of War III: Remastered
blog comments powered by Disqus