God of War 3 Review

How big is big enough? Our verdict on the face-melting conclusion (or is it?) to the God of War trilogy.

By Edwin Evans-Thirlwell, March 8, 2010

Opulent characterisations so much as visual opulence are God of War’s bread and butter. The intriguing thing about the franchise’s take on the household names of Ancient Greek theology is that it’s actually quite faithful. Not literally, word-for-word faithful – there are things growing in duck ponds that have more in common with the Aphrodite of Homer’s Iliad than the Aphrodite you meet in this game, for instance – but faithful to the less-than-serenity of Attic theatre, to the petty tantrums, adulteries and rivalries of the pantheon. Hades, Hermes, Zeus, the Titans and the rest of the celebrities you meet, trash-talk and (more often than not) dispose of on your voyages are superhuman, yes, but not in the sense of being ‘better than human’ – they’re exactly as human as the mortals they presume to govern, just on a much larger and inevitably more destructive scale.

Panzer-Dragon-Orta-esque flight sequences pepper the slaughter.

Panzer-Dragon-Orta-esque flight sequences pepper the slaughter.

And that humanity, of course, gives them charm. Special mention goes to the tormented, imprisoned artisan-god Hephaestus, perhaps the only unambiguously likeable personality the game has to offer (and a visual marvel to boot).

If the pantheon and the world they give rise to – a world which grows increasingly ragged around the edges as you deprive it of their presence – are convincing, and the voice-acting and cutscene direction predictably swish, the plot itself is a letdown. The problem, in a nutshell, is that Kratos is far beyond the redemption the writers wish to bestow on him. Fuelled by two games’ worth of divine double-crosses and blood-letting, the sometime Spartan’s coarser impulses have long outgrown his paltry paternalistic virtues, as the unrivalled savagery of this edition’s Quick Time Event finishers (many of them first-person) makes plain.

Once more sinned against than sinning, Kratos is now thoroughly evil – and more importantly, unappealing. In order to drag him back within reach of player sympathy, the developer has to stir up some distinctly artificial inner turmoil and do a little last-minute expository plothole-filling. God of War 3 is a disappointment in this regard not because the script lacks the insight to make his eventual deliverance affecting, but because it hasn’t the guts to give him his just desserts. They don’t have the guts to let Kratos die, either, though they come pretty damn close.

The Nemean Cestus gauntlets aren't just for CQC.

The Nemean Cestus gauntlets aren't just for CQC.

And death, ultimately, is what this franchise deserves – not because the third game is anything short of an excellent one, but because the idea has come as far as it can. There’s not a blind chance of this happening, of course – Sony would have to be bonkers-on-toast to call it a night right now, and anybody who believes otherwise should hang on till the end of the credits roll – but it needs to happen nonetheless.

The highlights of this iteration are all in the technology; as potent and polished a hack-and-slasher as God of War 3 can be, the myth of its continuing relevance in design circles has worn thin. Series fans should and will invest, as there’s fundamentally nothing broken here that wasn’t broken before, but don’t come expecting a bold rebirth, and don’t come expecting the game of the year. Kratos is a frequent visitor to the Underworld; perhaps it’s time he stayed there.

8 out of 10

Here’s our scoring guide. All feedback welcome, whether below or in the forum.

107 Responses to “God of War 3 Review”

  1. fb88 says:

    i think gow 3 looks great i really liked gow collection dantes inferno darksiders and ninja gaiden 2 but hated bayonetta out of 67 games its the only one i traded in way overhyped cheesy and the story makes no sense from playing the first 2 gow the combat is very deep and better than its peers by the way im confused by the lenghth of the game some say 9 hours some 12 and some as high as 15

  2. Canis Lupus says:

    For Christ’s sake! I can’t believe there was even one kid here saying he had a rich dad who could buy the site… How pathetic can these spoiled fanboys be??
    Whatever. I just think this site should filter these comments, because it can be (actually, it is!) quite disturbing having to see these completely retarded and imature comments here.
    Solid review, by the way.

  3. dis site is gay says:

    ok i h8 wen evry1 is comparing gow to bayonetta, bcuz bayonetta has A SHITTY STORY, and if it even got the chance to get more sequels, there is no way that it can b as good as the gow trilogy. Bayonetta is a stupid dmc ripoff, that makes no sense. edwin u r biased, n dis site suks ass….and im not evn a fanboy ! u say that it needs a multiplayer ? and that it is repetitive ? so is all of the cod and dmc games ! bayonetta doesnt come close to lookin as good as gow, and its story certainly doesnt. it does not evn hav a multiplayer yet it did betta den gow ? bullshit edwin…bullshit lol

  4. Destroyer of crybaby fanboys says:

    All of these whiny fanboys crying about the “lower” score are probably the type of guys who always jump out of the shower just to take a piss.

  5. Brush says:

    @Dis site is gay

    1) This site is gay

    2)ok i h8 wen evry1 is comparing gow to bayonetta, bcuz bayonetta has A SHITTY STORY

    Okay, i hate when everyone….because

    3)there is no way that it can b as good

    be, and i think you’ll find it can.

    4)edwin u r biased, n dis site suks ass….and im not evn a fanboy !

    Edwin, you are biased, and this site sucks ass, and i’m not even a fanboy (you’re kidding no one)

    5)bayonetta doesnt come close to lookin as good as gow, and its story certainly doesnt. it does not evn hav a multiplayer yet it did betta den gow ? bullshit edwin…bullshit lol

    Looking as good….even have a multiplayer, better that (den, is a particularly poor effort) bullshit edwin bullshit laugh out loud? or lots of love? (i’m guessing it’s not lots of love)

    I don’t forsee gainful employment in your future, if you keep this up. Maybe at a sk8shop.

  6. Brush says:

    Better than…oh dear

    you could do with an edit button too :O)

    and a spellchecker so people can’t post ‘u iz ghey kratos iz goin to smakk you up’

  7. Damo says:

    I remember a time when you’d have a flight sim fan reviewing flight sims and an adventure fan reviewing adventures and a hack and slash fan….. If your not a hack and slash fan then reviewing a god of war game is like a guy who only eats beans reviewing restaurants. Some of your comments suggest you’d rather have been reviewing something else.8′s not a bad score but having played through and reviewed the game it’s a whole lot better than any game I’ve ever given 8 out of 10 to in the past. Reviewing a game isn’t about giving a 100% personal score. It’s about giving the score that you feel the majority of the people who buy the game would give it after having played it. If you think that scores going to be an 8 I would suggest you stick to reviewing games from a genre you actually appreciate.

  8. Destroyer of crybaby fanboys says:

    “Reviewing a game isn’t about giving a 100% personal score. It’s about giving the score that you feel the majority of the people who buy the game would give it after having played it.”

    That’s complete CRAP and you know it. When you review a game you review a game based on your own experience with it. I don’t sit there writing a review and thinking, “Gee, I wonder what other people would score this game. Even though I think Shenmue is worth a 6.8 maybe I should bump the score up just to appease the angry masses.” ;)

    • Damo says:

      You obviously lack the IQ required to understand my argument. Perhaps you had a unhappy upbringing but who knows?

      • Destroyer of crybaby fanboys says:

        “You obviously lack the IQ required to understand my argument. Perhaps you had a unhappy upbringing but who knows?”

        And you obviously lack the IQ required to realize that reviewers don’t moonlight as Nostradamus. They’re not mind readers. You’re saying that reviewers should give a score that they feel most people who buy the game would give it. You have any idea how ridiculous that sounds? LOL

        Since you seem to be so sure about what MOST people who buy/bought the game would score it, why don’t you tell us? ;)

        • Damo says:

          Ok let me explain. Lets say i’m a lion and i’ve been asked to review bananas. I know that 99% of of the animals that are going to buy bananas are monkeys but i really don’t like bananas so i give them 1 out of ten, the 1 being given because the skin bears a resemblance texture wise to bacon rind. It’s only my personal view as a lion but given that i’ve already stated that the market is made up of monkeys how valid is my score. Not valid at all is the answer. As a reviewer it’s about giving a representative score bearing in mind the captive audience for the game your reviewing. Maybe the best way around it would be to give a personal score then a score you think a fan of the genre would give it.

          • Rupert Higham says:

            I am a huge fan of the genre having played and enjoyed the likes Devil May Cry, Ninja Gaiden, God of War, Bujingai, God Hand and most recently Bayonetta. Once again it’s worth noting that almost none of the respondents (including myself) have played GoW3 yet, but judging by the rest of the series, Edwin’s review seemed perfectly well judged. The law of diminishing returns states that the more you produce something, the lesser your returns, despite the increase in input. It’s the reason the Gran Turismo was a 10/10 game and Gran Turismo 4 was an 8/10, despite being superior in every way. God of War 3 is almost certainly better than God of War 1 & 2 in every way, but each sequel makes it’s brilliance less relevent. As a fan of the series I would not expect or want GoW 3 to be any different, but conversely I would not expect every iterration to get a 10 just for going through the motions, however wonderful they may be. As a massive fan of bananas, I suspect I would’ve given Sony’s bananas an 8 too – I just think Platinum’s and Tecmo’s taste better, even if the skins aren’t quite as pretty.

  9. Raid says:

    Yeah, they should read that comment from Damo and ignore it completely.

    Otherwise, why not just give every massively hyped game with high production values a 10? Idiots will lap it up regardless of how it plays, and that goes double if it’s a system exclusive.

  10. josh says:

    if an 8 is the lowest score anyone gives this game i’d say they’ve really did something right. its not bayonetta but that wouldnt work for kratos anyway. hes to much brute force to be that fast and smooth. but as far as score goes 8 is still a b and that isnt bad. i could understand why some people (exspecialy a critic) would expect something new. if it were a movie people wouldnt complain that a critic gave the visualy supieror yet not inovative 3rd release to a seris an 8 they be like this is the same as the last why does it get an eight. as far not game of the year its a lil early to call dont you think?

  11. mark says:

    This review cannot be taken seriously.

    I know for lots of people may not like GOW3 or for that matter GOW series. But if you guys can’t do a good or decent job at least don’t blow this way.

    People who have been following this game know exactly what to expect, the final paragraph looks so bias. As if it is predetermined lol.


  12. Manny says:

    GREAT NEWS GOW MANIA iS OFFICIAL BREAKING RECORDS check this: http://playstationlifestyle.net/2010/03/10/god-of-war-iii-tops-best-sellers-list/

  13. Manny says:

    Itz a shame u had to go out like this. I wouldn’t wanna b u right now. Nice review man but not with the G.O.A.T sometimesif ya got nothing good to say. Say nothing. Face da music son u f**ded up on this review

  14. Manny says:

    And rupert u just sound dumb u sure as hell didn’t help coming to da rescue with damage control

  15. Manny says:

    Now please delete my comments I feel dumb being associated with ur site

  16. damo says:

    The law of diminishing returns is a whole lot more valid to a reviewer who has to complete hundreds of games a year in order to do his job. For most gamers who aren’t fat and sad they neither have the money or the time to play everything out there so what they perceive as being fun or even original is on a different level to a reviewer. In other words the returns diminish a lot faster for a reviewer than a average gamer so reviewers should take this into account because reviews aren’t a tool for reviewers to put they’re point across. They’re supposed to be a tool for the use of the average gamer to make an informed choice. Reviewing is a service not a self service.

    • Brush says:

      What about the fat and sad gamers who play a lot of games Damo?

      shouldn’t someone provide reviews for them. :O)

      If you take your point further though, let’s review Too Human for someone who hasn’t been playing games over the last 5 years

      ‘unbeleivable graphics, engaging gameplay, and you can even play online, wowzers 10/10′

      Whereas if you have been playing lots of games, that one was pretty bobbins.

      You can’t expect someone to review as if they’ve not been playing lots of games..if they have been plaing lots of games.

      Instead of Alan Hansen providing analysis on Match Of The Day, should they have housewife Dorothy from Brighton do it, who doesn’t know the offside rule? nope

  17. damo says:

    There should be a just between aren’t and a 7 lines up from the bottom of last post!

  18. damo says:

    I’m guessing you wrote that last post with a doughnut in your mouth!

  19. Mike says:


    I am severely disgusted at the absolute childishness of some people on this site. Thank you Edwin for giving us your opinion, so we can compare it to the other reviews who gave this game higher scores, and make an educated conjecture. In the end, the game deserves the score that the reviewer gives it, nothing more, nothing less. I’m deeply disturbed that the people who play the same games I do are capable of spitting such filth at a person who obviously enjoyed and recommends the game. Please don’t listen to these people, they obviously cannot form opinions of there own. Keep on truckin Edwin!

  20. Frankie P says:

    I bet mike is an overweight middle aged playing, chunky eating baby mama drama, thong wearing hades look a like. Shame on you for agreeing with something you haven’t played. What did edwhine do pay you off to vent that mid life crisis rubbish. Man up! And face reality your fingers hurt when u play these days and button smashing bad aZz kratos is not your British cup of teaaaa. Listen up! A majority wins everytime. The majority has spoken and they hate this site and the majority has spoken and kratos has broken records and will be game of the year. A metacritic score is 95 and that math was because I EXCLUDE THIS PATHETIC SCORE! I’ve sent a request to have this and the other cohorts low azz score disregarded and the speedy reply was indicating that historical removal of Yiddish will be done soon! Real soon as soon as Monday! Ha ha now who has the last laugh wannabe critic. And go get drunk or get laid cause you are gonna need to unwind after myself and everybody I know stop visiting your site. for being impulsive and trigger happy your shortlived increase of hits will quicky dry up! Respect the gamers we have the power not you. We made you and we will break you!

  21. Erik Norris says:

    Oh yea I told everybody to boycott your site

  22. Zack says:

    Serial killers only have two names. Ever notice that? But lone assassins always have three. John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, Mark David Chapman…
    — Mel Gibson in Conspiracy Theory
    lmfao well what did you all expect ???????EDWIN EVANS THIRLWEll lmao attempted to assassinate KRATOS lmfao with what pom poms rolfao nice try. All the great ones will have their critics. y’all need to get over his review. Sure it sucks azzzzz but it’s one mans opinion and he’s entitled to it. Just because he’s entitled to his opinion doesn’t make it right. If itz any consolationmy buddies who read his review saw the bias and ignorance like i did right away. Look this guy has lost all credibility with us but let’s let him be. When God Of wAr continues to recieve universal acclaim and break preorder record sales and win game of the year for 2010. Along with best visual etc then he will have laid in his own piss. Let it be people we need people like him with 3 names to drive us on life.

    • “Let it be people we need people like him with 3 names to drive us on life.”

      Pretty hilarious talk coming from a guy who has posted under three different identities in this comments thread alone. What’s the matter Erik/Manny/Zach, afraid you’ll be in a minority? ;)

  23. Mike says:

    Frankie P is probably a 15 year old virgin who has nothing better to do after he gets out of High School than to sit around playing with his dick until they find something to cry about. Who the fuck said I agreed with the review? I was just thanking him for not pandering to piece of shit TOOLS like you and all your SDF faggots. Your the kind of people I am so disgusted with in the first place. WAY TO PROVE MY POINT PUSSY. HAH, I just read your entire comment and its obvious your such a fucking tool! You really think anyone from metacritic gives a fuck about what comes out of your pathetic face hole? You and all your friends = no one. A majority has NOT spoken, just a bunch of fucking CRYBABIES who have nothing else to do but cry and cry and cry about a score that’s not perfect for one of your precious Sony Exclusives. I bet this site will be glad when you all go the fuck away. God fuck yourself you silly little fag, cause a female sure as hell isn’t.

  24. Mike says:

    Dear Zach.

    We all have three name. Your fucking stupid. I will take on every single one of you pussy ass Sony Fanboys one by one. You are the laughing stock of the Videogame World. We all hate you. Get fucked

  25. Zack says:

    “god fuck yourself” I hope lightning strikes you. Fucking fanboy holding edwhine’s underground banana. And yea I poste under three names and proud of it, figured I’d have a intellectual conversation with myself because you amusement park heroes are losers intellectually. Mike you’re a fucking knockoff of some aliian scrapmetal with no brains , pure space junk upstairs. Enough name calling I gotta go take a shit

  26. Cesar says:

    Edwin, your attempt to start a fanboy war with this Flame Bait of a review has failed you and you now have mud on your face to boot.

    Many sites attempt this startegy successfully but they have been in business for a long time and have a commited loyeal following. You did not do your homework Edwin and it’s going to bite you and this site in the ass and in the bottomline.

    Words of advise,if you want to draw attention and hits you don’t do it by bad mouthing a game that will go down as one of the best of it’s time.

    Have you noticed that even the 360 fanboys have stayed away from this review…you know why Edwin..They are just as disgusted because they also know that this game is a masterpiece…

    Shame on you and your staff for screwing up on your homework….

    If you want to do the right and honorable thing you will re review this game without bias and ignorance…

    Godd day to you sir….

  27. This will be my final post in this thread, as the level of bile on display has long since passed into the realm of absurdity. To those who’ve managed to comment thoughtfully and articulately on the review itself, whether in agreement or disagreement: thank you. I’ve read each and every one of your posts, though I haven’t replied to all. To those who have come here solely to react against what they consider a “bad score”, to accuse me of “bias”, to bleat and swear: let me ask you a simple question. Do reviewers exist to confirm what *you* think you know about a game, having never played it? Or are we here to tell you what *we* think about a game, having completed it (in this case, twice)?

    Mull it over. Somewhere else. I’m locking this thread.


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