God of War III
Even when creating the second part, the series lost its father and ideological inspirer – David Jaffe. And by the time of work on the triquel, Santa Monica Studio had also left his “right hand” Corey Balrog. And no matter how hard the PR machines try to convince us that “no one is indispensable,” the loss of parents rarely goes unnoticed for such franchises. Projects are handed over to either good artisans or sincere fans, which in this case is equally detrimental: both of them are afraid to gnash their teeth to spoil something in a working formula. They keep copying the originals from time to time and do this until the franchises are drowning in a swamp of their own dullness.
God of War III is one of the clearest, most spectacular examples of this.
And how beautiful everything sounded in the press releases and looked in the debut trailers! From the idea of fighting not on a static surface, but on the backs of the titans climbing Olympus, the imagination exploded with a storm of delightful images. Will the “live levels” from Shadow of the Colossus finally be surpassed? Do players really have to take into account during the battles not only suicide bombers from all sides, but also the constantly changing battlefield?
Rolled his lip, there’s nothing to say. “Dynamic battles” turned into a series of primitive, clearly scripted situations, and the ascent on the backs of giants ended in the first hour of the game. Further, the authors realized that by the end of the second part they had driven themselves into a losing situation, diverging both from the need to draw a variety of locations and from the ability to tell a coherent story: an assault is also an assault in Africa, especially without moving titan locations.
I had to back down and come up with another stupid excuse to throw Kratos into the world of the dead (the poor fellow has been there five times in five games – in Sparta he is even less often seen). And along the way, in order not to trifle, they resurrected Athena without the slightest intelligible explanation. The logic behind the mercantile decision can be understood: it is a sin to scatter a few memorable characters, and it was a shame for Sony to be left without its own translucent adviser girl in defiance of Cortana from Halo.
However, the problems of the real world cannot justify either the resurrection of Athena, or the reuse as a leitmotif of the playing of a broken record with the song “Kratos is angry at everyone at once, but at the same time dreams of forgiveness and cares for little girls”, which quickly turns once charismatic and tragic hero into a parody of himself. Not without reason, one of the main reasons for the pride of the new leader of the Santa Monica is his firm decision to turn the obligatory bed scene from meaningless fan service into an element of history. Nothing more to brag about.
The gameplay was even less fortunate. If not for the changed graphics, a new part of Kratos’s adventures would have to be written in add-ons: the monster has migrated from past games with virtually no changes, as well as the hero’s set of strikes. It should be a shame: Bayonetta, which came out a few months before the Sony exclusive, has a list of single-weapon moves easily outweighs all the God of War skills combined. But they still don’t deserve it, because now of the four guns available to a bald Spartan, three are practically indistinguishable variations on the theme of “swords on chains”.
And that’s not all. In God of War, there is still no place for interrupting animations, because of which Kratos will not begin to dodge until he finishes the komba ordered earlier – even if an explosive bird flies to his head. The right stick is still mediocrely squandered on somersaults: we won’t nod at competitors, but didn’t even the “Chains of Olympus” prove to the creators that one button is enough? To afford such waste when there is nowhere to hang four types of magic, and to be forced to tie each of them to one of the weapons is stupidity, which even the desire to follow the outdated precepts of the series does not justify.
The only noteworthy change in the combat system is mid-air dodges, but boasting of such a thing next to the new leaders of the genre is somehow sinful. On the other hand, the puzzles in God of War III are the best in the series, and by a huge margin: interesting, logical, perfectly integrated into what is happening. We are talking about the quest, and not about the slasher – there would be no price for this fact. And so it turns out that the unloading scenes in the game please more than the main gameplay, and this is not very correct.
Who knows, maybe the people responsible for the external component of the game would not mind at all following the path of scriptwriters with game designers and tearing up the achievements of the past parts as much as possible. But fortunately for us, no one gave them such a chance: here you don’t have Dante’s Inferno, the picture of which was inferior to the games of the previous generation in everything except the resolution – Sony’s exclusive flagship would not have gotten away with this. Therefore, artists, programmers and animators did their best, giving out epic locations and giant titans and licking the ugly muzzles of monsters to the smallest detail. And most importantly – with fanaticism worthy of Eli Roth, working out finishing moves with which Kratos treats almost everyone he meets.
As a result, at the time of its release, in terms of entertainment, God of War 3 was inferior only to the later parts of the Uncharted series (and even now it looks very good) – and not because of a lack of skill, but because of a lack of imagination. After all, no matter how good gigantomania, sex and excessive violence are, they alone are not enough to keep the jaws of the audience collapsed to the floor for ten hours. If only these picture masters were combined with Folklore designers, the result would be a work of art that would not be a sin to exhibit in some Louvre. And as it is, it’s just a very spectacular game.
And all together…
When God of War III first came out, that was enough for most gamers, as God of War’s gameplay formula, even though it had completely lost its novelty and ability to arouse childishly uncomplicated delight, did not stop working. But the sales of “Ascension” showed that no one at SCE Santa Monica Studio will allow you to go on repeating the same thing forever.
And therefore, it is not a fact that the re-release of God of War III will be successful: it is still the same game of the same series. Yes, the already spectacular fantasy action movie has become even more beautiful than before. But that’s all.
Hopefully Corey Balrog, who led the development of God of War II and returned to the studio to work on God of War IV, will come up with a way to shake up and refresh the stagnant franchise.