My eye-watering sense of déjà vu returned, once more, as I sat down with yet another remastered last-gen game. It seems like only yesterday that I finished with the blood-soak antics of Kratos in 2010’s God of War III on PS3, and yet here I am again, this time reviewing God of War III Remastered for PlayStation 4.
It is no surprise that Sony Computer Entertainment chose to remaster Krato’s third outing for their shiny new-gen console. The God of War series must be the most remastered franchise in the history of video games. God of War and God of War II, both originally PS2 games, were scrubbed up for the PS3. Even the PlayStation Portable games God of War: Chains of Olympus and God of War: Ghost of Sparta got a PS3 reissue.
As remasters go, Wholesale Algorithms – the studio charged with polishing up Kratos’ third outing, must have found most of the hard work already done for them. The original God of War III was a technical marvel on the PS3, being one of the few games to run at 1080p natively.
Like the remastered PS4 version of The Last of Us, God of War III Remastered is a bit of a victim of its own success. The original PS3 version with its drop-dead gorgeous visuals still holds its own, providing a gaming experience that they must have found difficult to improve on.
Compared to the original release, when God of War III turned heads and had everyone talking, this re-release sees the games visuals go from being on the cutting edge to being great, but as expected, on the PS4.
With the spectacle of it all removed are we are left with a just fairly ordinary slash-em-up?
Well, not exactly.
Like the Devil May Cry series, the God of War games could be distilled down to simple button-mashing affairs. The action is exhilarating, but lack any substance. The game’s plot, loosely based on Greek mythology, is wafer thin, but serves its purpose to transport Kratos to his next set of hapless victims and huge set pieces, admirably.
God of War III follows on directly from the events of the second game, with fallen Spartan, Kratos- the titular God of War aiding the Titans with assault of Mount Olympus. Kratos is after Zeus and he run through the entire Greek Parthenon of gods if that’s what it takes. The game starts with a breathtaking sequence on the back of the huge Titan Gaia, setting the scene for the epic action to follow.
What sets the game apart from other similar hack and slash affairs is its huge sense of scale. Kratos is a mighty killing machine, but he is still a man – a dead man resurrected, for sure, but still a man. A man battling massive Titans and huge mythological beasts.
The battles are often epic, with a tiny Kratos, leaping up to give oversized, lumbering opponents the beat-down. Gigantic limbs get severed by his blades and bloody finishing moves delivered by the only quick time events that I’ve ever felt actually worked well in a game.
As with the other games in the series, God of War III is brutal, featuring some of the goriest executions this side of Mortal Kombat. Kratos hacks and slashes his way through Greek mythology, tearing the heads off of Medusas and gutting Centaurs. Nothing stands in his way as playes are treated to some of the most over-the-top finishing moves in gaming history.
As you progress in the game Kratos is endowed with an increasingly menacing arsenal of weapons, usually supplied at the cost of a Greek god’s life.
Levels are littered with chests offering a red, blue or green orbs. Red orbs level up Kratos’ weapons and magic powers, green orbs refill Kratos’ heath meter and blue robs refill magic. Some chest contain special items like Phoenix feathers used to increase stat bars.
Where it not for God of War III’s inspired (and somewhat epic) puzzles, you could dismiss the series as being no more than a mindless hack and slash. The puzzles swing from being fun to frustrating with alarming regularity.
The locked camera angle that is a staple of the series takes a bit of getting used to, with the right analogue stick instead being used to evade. The restricted camera allows for a more controlled cinematic experience, but can make it sometimes difficult to see where or what to do next. This can be frustrating, especially during some of the otherwise excellent puzzle sections. The original developers obviously realised this, hence the incredibly overt glowing prompts that appear throughout the game.
The biggest fault that I find with the God of War games is that they are all so similar. Whilst playing through God of War III again I found myself often looking forward to set pieces that never arrived, my memories of previous God of War games had, rather understandably merged into one. Don’t fix what’s not broken, maybe. But that also means if you are not a fan of God of War 1 & 2, you are probably not going to like this one either (and indeed God of War Ascension, its successor).
For the most part the game runs at a solid 60fps and at 1080p. But this is not all that the remastered version of the game brings to the table. The textures are slightly better with everything looking crisper and better defined. The package also includes all the DLC add-ons from the original release. As with The Last of Us Remastered, God of War III Remastered also includes a photo mode allowing players to frame their own individual shots from the game.
Frustrating at times, but immensely rewarding, God of War III Remastered is a great game. The visuals, whilst not radically improved from the PS3 version have been polished from bloody good to perfection. This is the God of War III that Sony’s San Diego Studio set out to make, lovingly remastered by Wholesale Algorithms. All the details from the original feel a little better defined with those Titan-scaled battles left looking all that more epic.
Despite some very minor gripes, the same that I had with the original, God of War III Remastered is very much an essential purchase for PS4 owners.