Ben: With a sequel/reboot on the horizon, Lauren and I both decided to play through God of War III Remastered, Kratos’ last adventure in the world of Greek Mythology, once more.
After murdering the entire Greek Pantheon yet again, I have to say that it was a good choice for Santa Monica Studio to move God of W4r (I’m kinda proud that I came up with that name) away from the series’ hack-n-slash roots, because I highly doubt they could improve upon God of War III’s absolutely amazing mechanics or scale.
Lauren: As much as I’d love to describe Norse Kratos as a lumberhack and slasher (two can play at being clever!), I know that my thumbs are a little too old for all that button mashing. Seriously, they’re still recovering from the rage mashing that comes along with beating the Olympians to a bloody pulp. Turns out it takes a lot to kill a god. Who’da thunk it?
As much as I can truly appreciate the chaotic combat and how it puts you in the mindset of blindly swinging free with the wrath of a man hadesbent on vengeance, I’m not as high on it as you seem to be, or as I remember being when the game was first released 8 years ago. Let’s just say it took me a little while to get used to it, and I didn’t always feel like it worked as well as it could in terms of boss fights. Fending off overwhelming hordes is one thing, but when I feel like I can’t get close enough to Poseidon to do any real damage in the first fight, constantly having to retreat to a safe distance to get out of his electric trident range (why does the god of the sea (and earthquakes and horses) have control of electricity again?), I felt like anything but capable. Far from how I should feel stepping back into the shoes of the ex god of war!
Thank the gods I was eventually given a bow. Some might say I was a little over reliant on it, and some might be right. Because I definitely forgot all about blocking/parrying attacks because of it, something I’d assume would’ve come in handy looking back at some attackers. Like those damn satyrs! They were the Zeus to my, um, me.
I’m not saying that I didn’t eventually get into the swing of things with the glorious Blades of Exile, it just took this lady who’s so used to Arkham style combat a little bit longer than it once did.
Ben: I wasn’t blocking or parrying that much either, but the combat was always fun for me. I picked it back up pretty quickly, and was launching enemies into the air with the square + square + triangle combo (my bread and butter for the entire series) in no time. It’s also worth noting that no other game has as many action sequences that made my jaw drop as God of War III, mainly due to the sheer savagery Kratos perpetrates on his victims through quick time events. Kratos is a god-killer, and I think the game does a great job of making you feel like you’re in the sandals of one.
While the action wowed me yet again, the story felt a little less epic this time around. Maybe it’s because I’ve beaten it so many times before, or because we’ve been spoiled by games like The Last of Us and Horizon Zero Dawn, but it just wasn’t as enthralling as I remember. It’s also harder to root for Kratos than I remember, but that’s probably because the moments where you see how many times the gods have screwed him over, and to what degree, are in the spin-off games that I only played once each years and years ago.
As for Poseidon controlling lightning during the boss fight… That’s a good question.
Lauren: Ah the square + square + triangle combo. It did me proud.
As for Kratos, I’d say it’s hard to root for him because he’s a jerk who cares about no one. I honestly don’t remember how many terrified civilians got decimated for simply standing in my path, though I definitely remember obliterating the feeble body of a random Grecian for simply sitting in front of a chest I wanted. Oh! And “rescuing” a prisoner of Poseidon’s only to use her as a prop to keep a gate open!? Man, that’s rough. Let’s just say no one survives meeting Kratos. No one. (RIP Kronos, you were one glorious battlefield.)
I always remembered Kratos as being a brutal individual capable of terrifying violence, but time apart from the series washed away just how extremely bloodthirsty the demigod is. Going into the eyes of Poseidon as Kratos pummels him to death was quite the reminder. As was slicing open a centaur like I was ready to survive the cold in its belly, or ripping the legs from Hermes’ body after walking him down like a slasher’s killer, or obliterating Hercules smiling face to such an extreme that I could no longer tell who put the glad in gladiator… We’d get brief reprieves here and there thanks to the distance between the camera and the action in the larger battles, but in those one on one moments when we truly see the rage and lack of remorse in Kratos’ actions we’re reminded just how powerful this anger has made him. And that power is satisfying.
Let’s just say I punched Zeus in the face for a good 3 minutes before I realized I was supposed to finally relent…
(Hey guys, Lauren here with a friendly reminder that anyone who believes video games make people violent is a moron. Don’t @ me.)
I can see where you’re coming from in terms of story what with Athena helping Kratos for some reason that I’m honestly not quite sure of and Kratos finding himself back in the underworld yet again and Pandora’s Box coming back into the mix in an attempt to add a little more depth to the “villains” of the game, but to me all the story boils down to is Kratos’ wrath, plain and simple. And with the combat, finishers, Kratos’ lack of compassion, and simple choice to make this a linear game constantly pushing the player towards the end goal, the developers nailed it.
Ben: Looking back on it, what I was really rooting for was the death of the gods and Olympus, which just happened to be Kratos’s endgame. I only wish they did more to flesh him out in the main trilogy, especially in God of War III. People who only played the three main titles missed huge pieces of character development for Kratos, and I think that’s a shame. This is a guy who not only lost his wife and daughter because the gods are assholes, but his brother was tortured for decades by a god while he was presumed dead. He even refused the love of his daughter’s soul to SAVE the gods at one point. Hell, Athena’s “help” was motivated by her lust for power. The only half-decent god (aside from Hephaestus, the poor bastard) ended up using Kratos for her own gain in the end.
The only thing that comes close to humanizing the Ghost of Sparta in God of War III is his bond with Pandora. While it’s fairly poignant, it feels like they dropped an angry grain of sand onto the endless beach that is Kratos’ fury.
Lauren: Especially when one jab about his family from Zeus causes him to forget all about Pandora. As in he released her to be pulled to her death. Sure, that’s what she wanted, but it definitely weakened the one hint of a character developing moment we finally got.
It sucks that this is all we really have to cling to past his final sacrificial moment, but that just makes me all the more excited for what is to come in the new God of War. New combat style, RPG elements, brand new source of mythology to breathe new life into the series I assumed was over… the thing I’m most looking forward to is Kratos’ relationship with his son. Maybe we’ll get a story that reminds you more of The Last of Us just yet.
Ben: I agree completely. As I said in my Most Anticipated Games of 2018 list, “Santa Monica Studio realized that their beloved series needs to change with the times.” This new character-driven style could make it the best God of War yet. Kratos has defeated fate, gods, and even death, but I can’t wait to see him face something he probably fears more: fatherhood.
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