Playing God Of War III, I couldn't help but notice the ways in which Sony Santa Monica took something familiar and made it better. On a surface-level, the tweaks aren't particularly apparent, but there are so many things tweaked to improve the experience. From the combat to the controls, God Of War III simply "feels" better, and while that's an ambiguous statement, allow me the opportunity to justify...
- Combat. Watch someone play God Of War III and it looks the same. Play God Of War III yourself and it feels the same. But actually analyse it next to the previous two iterations and you'll notice it's balanced close-to perfection. The way the enemies are laid out, the way the specific arenas are constructed, the way the moves and enemy AI is perfectly tuned. Staggering. Despite looking the same on surface value, God Of War III's combat is so much more refined. As is an overlooked tradition for the God Of War games, each iteration has better tuned the combat, and while it's not immediately noticeable (it absolutely looks the same), fans of the franchise will notice that it "feels" better. And that's because it's been refined.
- Difficulty. God Of War I & II had impossible difficulty spikes, particularly on the higher difficulties. God Of War III's difficulty is extremely tough on Titan difficulty, but it never spikes. It's been hand balanced to make it consistent - obviously challenging - but possible. I personally think that's awesome.
- Pacing. The God Of War games have always had fantastic pacing. The transition between combat, puzzle, platform and adventure has always been spot-on. With God Of War III though, I feel like it's again, that combination perfected. I honestly felt like there was a bit less fighting in God Of War III, but I assume that's because the game is so good at driving me through different objectives. I mean, let's be honest, if you hate everything about God Of War III, the level design is just outrageous. Yes it's largely scripted, but I love that almost "Metroid" feeling you get from seeing a ledge very early on and not being able to reach it, only to come full-circle with a new ability five hours later when you can finally get there. I think this game does that better than any other in the franchise.
- Puzzles. There are less puzzles in God Of War III. But what I felt was, when you get to a puzzle, it's a bigger, more "important" and challenging puzzle to complete. Without spoiling the game, the puzzle on perspective is outrageously satisfying. It's a decent chunk of a puzzle too - rather than just being a quick "press this switch" objective that were so obvious in previous games.
- Controls. God Of War has often had some quite complex control mechanics, simply because Kratos has so many abilities. I feel like God Of War III cuts down on the number of inputs and provides a more simplistic control scheme that makes all of Kratos' abilities more instantly-accessible.
- Weapons. For the first time in the franchise, I feel God Of War III provides weapons that I want to use. I can see where the "Blades Of Chaos" comparisons come in, the weapons handle similarly, but I feel that they are also different enough to feel both functional and refreshing.
- Scale. The obvious one really. Anyone who has played God Of War III will know that its scale goes above and beyond anything ever seen on a video game ever before. It's outrageous. One boss battle in particular is probably the best I've ever played in a video game. I don't want to go into details because it would be unfair on those yet to experience it, but know that it's amazing. That scale is pretty consistent right the way through, but it's juxta-posed by really up-close and personal sections which make you appreciate the scale even more when it comes. I think those contrasts are something new to God Of War III, and enhance the experience.
- Style. God Of War III is much more stylish than its predecessors. Despite being gritty and gory, I felt the ending in particular (no spoilers) was really stylish and well considered. It felt completely fitting for the end of the franchise (or Kratos) at least, and wrapped things up in a surprisingly stylish way.
- Considered QTEs. God Of War III has a lot less QTEs in it. When they come, they are lot more considerate in previous games, rarely getting in the way of the action, and not frequent enough to pull you out of the experience.
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