If BuzzFeed ever compiles a list of the 27 angriest characters in videogames, the top spot would undoubtedly go to Kratos, the Ghost of Sparta and titular God of War. He’s angrier than Andross (Star Fox), Vaas (Far Cry 3), and Zangief (Street Fighter). He’s angrier than the birds in Angry Birds. He’s even angrier than Wreck-It Ralph. Kratos exists in a permanent state of rage, a mardy sourbake fixed to his big grey face as he fights his way up Mount Olympus, onwards, downwards and upwards to topple Zeus, the father who betrayed him, and all of his demigods and acolytes. It’s all very Greek classics, if that mythology had been partially learnt and then bowdlerised by a teenage boy, as the emphasis is very much on kicking ass, ogling nubile women and then kicking some more ass. There are dozens upon dozens of enemies to dispatch with blades, chains and your own fists, and they range from regular-sized beasties like furies, gorgons, banshees and centaurs to eye-popping, humungous bosses like Cronos, whose moving limbs effectively function as traversable scenery in a standout level. The graphics may have been upscaled for next gen but it is a slight buff and polish rather than a major overhaul, but that does not mean that the game does not look impressive. Santa Monica did such a good job with investing the original release with so much colour and detail that they effectively outdid themselves out of the chance to do better in subsequent years.
It is moments like this, and there are several of them, when God Of War III excels, rather than in other sequences that are more, ahem, hit and myth. The sex-based mini-game with Aphrodite, for example, may aim for knowingly juvenile but comes off as being a bit weird, particularly in light of the bold steps forward in gender politics made by The Last Of Us and the Tomb Raiderreboot. Also, the wanton violence does grow wearing but not because of the violence itself. Rather, it is the incessant button-mashing required to string together combos and smush foes into puddles of bloody gloop that become somewhat numbing, similar to the mechanics ofBayonetta or Devil May Cry, even if they are broken by truly outlandish encounters such as the elongated fight with Poseidon – one struggles to recall a fight that is as visceral. In terms of gameplay, God Of War III alternates between puzzle solving, platforming and fighting, of which there is a great deal, and the varied approach still holds up five years after its original release. The question, however, as with all of these reboots and remakes, is whether it is necessary. It certainly is not a worthwhile purchase if you own the original but those who are yet to sample the acrid taste of Kratos’ ire, but if you are a PS4 owner, you will struggle to find a better opportunity to crush your enemies, see your enemies driven before you, and hear the lamentations of their women. Ross Thompson