God (of war) is dead: God of War 3 analysis

I examine the final part of the God of War trilogy.

Of the new series introduced during the Ps2 era, God of Warstood out on top for its combat, story and graphics at the time. With Gow 3 thestoryline is wrapping up for everyone's favorite sociopath, Kratos. Howeverhaving followed Kratos through his journey, I can say that I'm sick and tiredof God of War both from the story and the game play.



For those that did not play any of the Gow series I want togive a brief explanation into its combat. Kratos' main weapon is swords withchains attached to them that are wrapped around his arms. His attacks are mostoften wide to hit multiple enemies or have an area effecting explosion toattack a localized area. Kratos can also grab enemies and either use themagainst other enemies as a battering a ram or finish them off, however strongerenemies need to be whittled down first. The last pieces of equipment in Kratos'arsenal are magic attacks and items, both have a limit to how much you can useat once while magic needs to be recharged with orbs, items recharge quickly.Magic is akin to a panic button and allows Kratos to clear rooms easily. Theproblem that I have with Gow 3 and with the series in general is that Kratos'ability is detrimental to combat based on the threats he faces.


As I mentioned in the last paragraph Kratos' attacks aredesigned to hit multiple enemies, however there are set number of enemies forfighting to be optimum. If Kratos is fighting one or two enemies, his attackare so wide and slow that it can be hard to hit something specifically. Alsobeing slow leaves him very open to counter attacks or being hit before the bulkof his combo connects with the enemy. This is painfully made area when fightingbigger enemies who shrug off basic hits or can block his attacks.


Then we have huge fights, with enemy groups at least six andmore at a time. While Kratos' attacks are wide enough to deal with enemies infront of him, it doesn't help when there are enough to surround him. A lot ofhis combo chains ends with a powerful area effecting attack which can usuallyhit everyone within close proximity. However to  reach that point you need to let the rest ofthe combo play out and Kratos can be knocked out of his combo by any attack, whichleads to the weird solution of starting a combo when there is no one nearby andletting it finish as they run at you.


There is a very minimum window of how many enemies nearbythat Kratos is effective at fighting. Unfortunately this window does not occuroften as you'll mostly face large groups of weak enemies or one or two strongenemies. Fighting strong enemies especially bosses is a pain, as basic attackswon't stun them and they can easily hit you while Kratos is in mid combo.What's worse is how little defensive options Kratos has.


The game touts that there are three ways to defend, ageneric block, counter attacks and finally an evasive roll but it isn't thatsimple. Defending works ok at the start but when you start running into heavierenemies who have unblock able attacks you lose your basic form of defense. Thecounter attack system is based on hitting the block button on contact howeverit's hard to suggest to the player to use that when the enemy can break yourblocks. Finally the evasive roll not only feels less responsive this timearound but doesn't go as far as I remembered. In past Gows one roll was usuallyenough to get clear of an attack, in Gow3 I'm doing two or three rolls to avoida boss's attack and sometimes that isn't enough.


Moving down my list of complaints is Krato's arsenal. Likein previous Gow titles Kratos will unlock new equipment as the game progresses butother than the items everything still feels the same. In fact three of the fourweapons Kratos has are blades attached to chains with the last one being thesupposed "heavy weapon". Still every weapon controls the same way,with wide unfocused attacks and a big area affecting one. The only stand outbetween each weapon is the magic attack which you'll be saving for anemergency. This drags Gow3's combat further into derivative territory.


Going back to last gen, Devil May Cry 3 and Ninja GaidenBlack nailed it with weapon diversity. Each weapon had a different feel to itand this also made the weapon switching ability in DMC 3 all the more useful.Going from the strong but slow gauntlets to the shock guitar provided uniquecombos. In NGB wielding the bow staff vs the heavy sword required differentstrategies to be useful.


The more I play Gow 3 the more I see where the main problemwith the combat stems from. Because Kratos is only effective against smallgroups of enemies and not in one on one fights it limits his ability to fight.In an action title the player should be able to manage one on one fight andhave all the tools needed to help them. Looking at other action titles such asBatman, Bayonetta, and of course Devil May Cry 3, each one of these titles hasthe main character being very effective in one on one fight. They either gainedthe ability to fight groups of enemies with better gear or abilities, oradvanced moves at the start allowed them to fight multiple enemies.


Gow 3 however has none of this; Kratos starts out with hislimited attack range and never grows from there. Not at one point does Kratos'move set evolve allowing him to take down different enemies. Even Kratos'gauntlets while the closest you have to a focused attack still is swung wide makingit hard to keep attacking a single enemy. For someone who was the God of Warand a mighty warrior, Kratos really isn't all that useful in a fight and hisgreatest nemesis is someone who knows how to block.


My last complaint I swear is about the story, it feels atthis point that the writers aren’t even trying to humanize Kratos. Instead ofbeing a man on a mission in Gow3 Kratos just feels like a spoiled brat with atantrum. There's one bit of story that is so absurd that I want to go intodetail about how bad it was but I want to keep this as spoil free as possible.So I'm just going to say two words to tell you what scene I'm talking about:


Minor spoiler warning



Hera's death.





End spoiler




At this point I'm no longer playing Gow3 for excellent gameplay but to see how insane the story is going to get.


To be fair I don't think Gow3 is horrible in the sense thatthe designers couldn't keep the magic from the first two, instead I think it'sbecause I've seen better action titles. When I put the Gow series next to otheraction titles the faults become more apparent. In the past I actually finishedboth Gow and Gow 2 on the hardest difficulty setting, with 3 after I'm finishedI'm just going to shelve it. I think next I'm going to go back to finishingDarksiders and if it goes on sale I might pick up Dante's Inferno to see whereit took Gow's style.


Lastly just because I don't want to be completely damning toGow 3 I do have to compliment the graphics, the game looks amazing even on mySD TV.


Now that I have the Gow series under my belt I feel that thefirst one was still the best in the series hitting all the right points. Theboss fights were few but epic and it felt that it had the most coherent storyof the three. A lot of the events of the 2nd and third game could have beeneasily avoided if anyone stopped and talk things out, but then again "Godof rational discussion" doesn't sound as good on the box.



Latest Jobs

IO Interactive

Hybrid (Malmö, Sweden)
Gameplay Director (Project Fantasy)

Arizona State University

Los Angeles, CA, USA
Assistant Professor of XR Technologies

IO Interactive

Hybrid (Copenhagen, Denmark)
Animation Tech Programmer

Purdue University

West Lafayette, IN, USA
Assistant Professor in Game Design and Development
More Jobs   


Explore the
Advertise with
Follow us

Game Developer Job Board

Game Developer


Explore the

Game Developer Job Board

Browse open positions across the game industry or recruit new talent for your studio

Advertise with

Game Developer

Engage game professionals and drive sales using an array of Game Developer media solutions to meet your objectives.

Learn More
Follow us


Follow us @gamedevdotcom to stay up-to-date with the latest news & insider information about events & more