I’ve never considered myself to be a great big fan of God of War, but even I found the final chapter in the tale of Kratos’ unrelenting quest for revenge impressive. It cleverly used fixed camera perspectives to push out some of the finest visuals the PlayStation 3 had seen. It’s back, remastered for a new generation. And it’s still impressive.
The game picks up right after the second one, with our fallen God of War climbing a mountain to kill the guy at the top; his father and god of gods, Zeus. In fact, it begins where most games end; a zenith, filled with spectacle and grandeur.
Our angry deicide, in league – for now – with the Titans that seek to end the god of lightning’s reign over Olypmus and its people climbs and clambers up the rocky yet verdant surface of what turns out to be Gaia; the earth mother. Moments later and it’s a great big boss battle against Poseidon, the god of sea – an impressive assault against his aquatic warhorse. You’re fighting against a maritime deity, on the back of a giant, who’s climbing a mountain. And that’s just in the first two minutes.
It really sets up the tone rather well, as the game flits from grand setpiece to grand setpiece, with the narrative never serving as anything more than a vehicle for Kratos’ blind and murderous vengeance. He’s not a particularly likeable chap, our Kratos – killing whoever stands in his way without thought for the consequence, casually butchering just about everything that moves on screen. On the odd occasion, he’ll go up against one of the other gods of Greece’s pantheon, picking up new bits of weaponry or equipment to aide in his journey to the top of Olympus. And it’s rather enjoyable.
That it should be so fun is odd, seeing as most of your time is spent repeatedly pressing the square and triangle buttons ad infinitum. God of War has never quite had the pugilistic panache of Japanese games that share its genre; stuff like Devil May Cry or Bayonetta, instead adopting a more Western approach of brutal violence in lieu of masterful combat. You never need to learn the game’s more intricate combos, and any time you spend mastering the combat is more for the sake of it looking cool than it being genuinely helpful. Still, it’s undeniably cathartic, tackling a menagerie of mythological monsters, ripping off their heads and watching the gibs of bloody viscera splatter about. It’s a sort of refined repetition.
When you’re not killing things (which isn’t all that often, really), you’re solving light puzzles or jumping from platform to platform like a savage Super Mario. Occasionally excellent, they’re largely limp affairs, with not much in the way of thought required to solve them – with a tepid Guitar Hero moment serving as the very worst of them. The game’s kept fresh through some inspired level design that has you backtracking up and down Mount Olympus, gathering new upgradeable equipment that you’ll need to unlock other areas, like a Metroidvania light.
Though most of the newer weapons you earn play very similarly to the rechristened Blade of Exile that serves as your main method of killing, standouts like the Nemean Cestus – great big metal boxing gloves – change up the rote, rhythmic button presses. Other baubles, like a bow and arrow or the head of a god that’s used as a light source and hidden object finder mix things up further, keeping the 9 hour experience more engaging than it really should be.
It has its problems. The series overreliance on Quick-time events seems more egregious now, given that modern gaming’s moved on, and Kratos’ in-game treatment of women, problematic even then, is even more pronounced.
I had a great time replaying the game, which hardly looks as if it’s a half-decade old. The remaster on offer here is a good one, even if it is a little sparse. The game runs at a nearly unwavering 60 frame per second at 1080p, adding a suitable layer of post-release polish. The occasional muddy texture is the only clue that this isn’t a brand new game modern game. It’s a great remaster – but it’s a barren, barebones one.
Unless you really feel the need to relive the last chapter on Kratos’ saga, or haven’t yet played the game, there’s little reason to pick the game up. There’s no extra content at all, with the only addition being that of the now popular photomode. And even that’s limited. Thanks to the way the game utilises a fixed camera, all you’re able to do once you’ve entered it is change colours, frame shots and add filters; there’s no camera panning and very little control. There’s very little reason to replay it either. A few challenge missions and a handful of extraneous costumes that remix a few gameplay elements are present, but existed within the original PlayStation 3 release.
Last Updated: July 20, 2015