God of War III Remastered PS4 Review
It has come to the point in this generation where seeing announcements like Darksiders 2: Deathinitive Edition and the recently released Prototype Biohazard Bundle means that any publisher is willing to jump onto the remastered bandwagon to gain some quick cash from the consumer. That is not to say that games do not deserve such treatment. When done well remasters are a great way to see improvements for our wonderful trips down memory lane. Sony has done well in in this regard, as time has been spent either increasing the frame rate to buttery smooth 60FPS and improving textures/lighting, such was with the The Last of Us Remastered. With Sony’s President of Worldwide Studios, Shuhei Yoshida, stating that around 40% of the PS4 install base never had a PS3 that is a lot of people missing out on a fair few quality games, with one such brutal hit, God of War III, now receiving the remaster treatment to bring his angry revenge tale to the PlayStation 4.
I do wonder why Sony picked just God of War III and did not opt to go for a multi-pack featuring that game and God of War: Ascension. Sure, the latter was not as well received as the former, but both games were amazing showcases for what the PlayStation 3 could do graphically. In fact, this remaster goes to show this statement, as the visuals are bumped up to 1080p and the frame rate is now a solid 60fps, rather than the unlocked 60 – often running 40-50fps – of the PS3 version. Most textures seem to be the same assets that were in the original release, which the resolution increase helps show off how detailed they were back then, albeit with some minor textures looking blurry. Even though this is a coming from a PlayStation 3 game, the graphics hold-up well, even looking better than some cross-generation games. This is all thanks to the impressive artistic work that went into bringing Mount Olympus and all its inhabitants alive in what is a visual stunning world.
One thing which spoils the overall presentation with the visual improvements is the rendered cutscenes. These are no longer as pretty as the game. What used to blend between game and cutscene no longer seamlessly transitions from the game’s sharp and fluid visuals, as now you are met with a minor graining filmic video. In terms of bonus content, there really isn’t anything here for fans to sink their teeth into. The only new addition to the game is photo mode, everything else is what you had before (including the little downloadable content that was released for the title – skins). It’s a shame that Sony didn’t offer any extras for existing fans to be drawn into buying the game again, because as it is, the frame rate and bump in resolution isn’t a total sale for the game – it already looked fantastic on PS3. The frame rate lock to 60fps is nice, but the game isn’t like The Last of Us, where Naughty Dog’s title was often running less than 30fps, easy enough for people to notice the difference when playing The Last of Us again on PS4. This release feels aimed for new PlayStation owners who never played the title before, rather than existing fans.
Which begs the question, is God of War III a good place to start from? In terms of the story, it isn’t, since God of War III starts where the second game left off, with Kratos climbing Mount Olympus with an army of Titans to finally get his revenge on Zeus. But, that doesn’t mean you are thrown into the game with no context with what has happened before. God of War III has an introduction that offers a brief glimpse over Kratos’ foregone murdering sprees, along with in game dialogue with characters and pieces of information scattered around which help the player build up a background for game.
I don’t think many fresh players will be lost with what is going on, since the tale in God of War III is simply one about revenge to the extreme, to the point that Kratos is no longer a likeable character. It’s still a great trip being in the shoes of someone who has lost all care in the world and just wants to end everyone that caused him problems, even if it means the destruction of everything around him. It’s a story more about the set pieces than the in-depth plot and character growth, but boy, those set pieces are jaw dropping good, even now. Not many games can display such large and mesmerising scenes, such as the beginning of the game where players take down Poseidon or crawl on the body of Cronos and rip his finger nails off. Squirming is sure to occur with that scene.
Combat was given more complexity with the third God of War. Although, even though it has a huge focus on action, it never aimed to be a character action game in the same style as Devil May Cry 4 or Bayonetta 2 – those games contain combat systems that are above anything else currently in genre. That said, there is still plenty of abilities for people to play with. Kratos has his Blades of Exile that can be mashed with square and triangle for easy combo damage, but dig into the game’s mechanics offers options with a new counter system brought into the third title that offers a parry to open up enemies. There is a similar weapon to the blades, called Hades’ Claws, which sucks the souls from anything it touches. The fan favourite has to be Cestus, giant gauntlets that focus on pure strength for knocking out any foe dumb enough to still stand in Kratos’ way by the time those weapons are acquired. You would have thought after the deaths of many Gods and enemies that people would step away from a killer machine armed with enlarged metal pulverisers.
Returning to God of War III has still been an exciting time. Yes, I knew everything that was going to happen, but seeing it again brings a understand to how crazy this game was and how it was pushing the previous console. The second trip has also shown that parts of the game occasionally blunder with the pacing. Thankfully there isn’t a lot of it, but after the adrenalin filled action and deaths, when the game cools down with some puzzle platforming it seems like they are in at the wrong place. Puzzles often resort to the basics of pushing blocks to sections and turning handles, but there are some genuinely interesting ones, such as seeing the PlayStation button symbols on a musical instrument that Kratos must play to gain access to the Flame of Olympus.
Even after ageing a good five years, God of War III still remains a fabulous action game jammed with memorable set pieces and locations. As for this remastered edition, it seems slightly overpriced for the ability to play the game on PlayStation 4, as it clearly does not feature such an substantial update as some of the other remastered editions. Even so, for people who have never sampled the sweet taste of revenge with Kratos, there is plenty to enjoy with God of War III Remastered, and can be recommended for anyone who wants to see what the God of War series is all about, as the third entry showcases plenty of the franchise’s best bits.