Have you ever looked at a game and seen something so technically advanced, so different and so far ahead of almost everything else you've seen, that you just can't quite believe that it's running on your trusty console? Over the years, only a few choice titles spring to mind, but Sony Santa Monica's magnificent God of War III is undoubtedly the latest example. It looks and feels like a next-gen game that in some way, somehow, miraculously, manages to run on current-gen hardware.
The game kicks off with a remarkable statement of intent from the developers. Here we see the return of the traditional God of War gameplay - remarkably addictive hackandslash combined with spectacularly epic boss battles - but remixed with new technology and new concepts. The action takes place on a mammoth, moving play space - a completely realised titan no less - that in itself is moving through another 3D world.
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Review: God of War III
Hands On: God of War III
You had me at Helios.
The initial Gaia level from God of War III gets put through the Digital Foundry frame-rate analysis tools.
Spectacular camerawork picks out Kratos' progress as he moves across the face of the behemoth, regularly facing off against the watery power of the sinister Poseidon, while a small mountainside intermission sees the player disengage from the titan, becoming something of a spectator as the god and titan battle it out, emphasising the size and scale of the confrontation. God of War has always been about the little man dishing out ruthless, merciless beatings to bigger and nastier beings but in GOWIII, Sony Santa Monica finally has the technology at its fingertips capable of making these battles play out on a truly epic scale worthy of the Greek legends that inspired the series.
Not every level reaches the heights of this introduction of course (and for the sake of pacing, not every level should) but God of War III is always super-slick, highly entertaining, and beautiful to look at - like Uncharted 2 before it, a brilliant melding of excellent gameplay and untouchable tech.
Not only that, but for what is primarily a fighting game, God of War III has a surprisingly expansive range of brain-teasers to break up the combat, including what must surely be the best Escher-style perspective-based 3D puzzle yet devised. The culmination of Kratos's journey sees him take on Zeus himself mano-a-mano, in a supremely satisfying confrontation that rivals the best that a popcorn Hollywood blockbuster can offer in terms of bad guy comeuppance.
There are many other reasons why God of War III is so special, of course, and why it's unlikely that we'd ever get to play a game like this on any other console. Sony plays host to the largest collection of internal studios of any of the three major platform holders and there's no doubt that the firm itself has a strong dedication to producing software that is technologically, and often conceptually, on the bleeding edge. This has led to a bonanza of ultra-high quality gaming for PS3 owners.