godofwarTITLE: God of War III

DEVELOPER/PUBLISHER/PLATFORM: Sony Santa Monica/Sony/Playstation 3

FUN FACT: 7-Eleven's limited-edition "Kratos Fury" Slurpee (ayo!) is a combination of blackberry and lime flavors. Actually, it's "blackberry lime blended with chaos." Seriously.

WHY COMPLEX IS CO-SIGNING IT: Because as much the franchise's first two games stand as truly epochal experiences of the Playstation's previous iterations, this one ups the ante by squeezing every last dark drop out of the PS3's processing power. In the form of ichor. It's hugely violent, hugely entertaining, and hugely fucking huge. By now you've seen clips of the opening sequence, with Kratos scaling Mount Olympus on Gaia's titanic self, but believe us when we say it somehow gets bigger from there—not always in scale (that'd be impossible), but in scope. If you're going to spend $44 million on a game, this is how it should be done. Plus, we could never pass on a game that has Kyle from Living Single as the lead character...

Yes, really.

GAMEPLAY: If you've played either of the previous God of War titles, there's not much here that's different. Light attacks, strong attacks, combos, magic, and occasional button prompts that trigger finishing animations. The game veers, as its predecessors did, from button-mashing imbroglios to puzzle/platform sequences to some mindblowing and hellish (always figuratively, sometimes literally) boss battles. The gore, somehow, is ramped up—you can see where that $44 million went the first time you pry a mid-boss's jaws apart to crack its skull, gouge out someone's eyes, or pull the innards out of a centaur.


And when the game goes big, it goes BIG. The opening level, which takes place on, in, and around Gaia, redefines "cinematic" not just as a cut scene, but as a feel that permeates the entire damn experience. It's like that scene in Uncharted 2 (you know the one), but bigger. And more shirtless. (Speaking of which, yes, there's a sex game. Yes, the sex game has nipples. And yes, there's girl-on-girl. Goodbye, $60!)
Please, hammer, don't hurt 'im.


GRAPHICS: Hmm, maybe you haven't been reading this. THIS SHIT LOOKS CRAZY. It's not a game of light, it's a game of darkness, and (for the most part) it enshrouds you without feeling claustrophobic. It's also a game of textures—and stone, wood, water, fire, and viscera all get the loving treatment. Even facial animations, so often short-shrifted in action-adventure games, are a joy.

We mentioned the nipples, right?
It's dark, and Hell is hot.

DOWNSIDE: Most trivial concern first: In the sex minigame, Kratos' thrusts sound like a sword strike, which is a little disturbing (we're sure Aphrodite can handle it, we're just saying). More importantly, as crisp as the graphics are, there are instances and locations in the game—we're looking at you, Hades—when darkness and shadow border on murky. Call us crazy, but if a game asks us to calibrate our TV's video to accommodate its range of blacks and whites, then that shouldn't happen. There's also the fact that the final boss isn't as exciting as others earlier in the game, but that's a concern shared by plenty of other titles. It's not that the game takes a nosedive, more that it plateaus during the final few hours, feeling ever so slightly repetitive by the end. Other than that, what's not to love? Grandeur, gravitas, Kyle from Living Single (and Malcolm McDowell! And Kevin Sorbo!) and ultra, ultra, ULTRAviolence. Rated M for Mammoth.


This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 3.

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