Thirty seconds. That is roughly how long it’ll take before you stop worrying about whether or not God Of War 3 is going to deliver. Its opening cinematic, which is a brought-to-life Greek tapestry by way of a James Bond title sequence, is as overblown and stirring as anyone could possibly want it to be. God Of War 3 is many, many people’s most anticipated game of 2010, and we will make no bones about it; it is very hard to imagine the kind of person who’ll walk away from it even slightly disappointed.

The continuing misadventures of history’s angriest man are once again penned by the unsung Marianne Krawczyk, and everything that fans of the series expect are present by the bucketload. Structurally (being as it is, essentially a bookend to Kratos’ story) God Of War 3 isn’t as peerlessly inventive as the first game (which was entirely shaped around Kratos’ flashbacks as he plummeted into the Aegean Sea after committing suicide) but in terms of sheer storytelling finesse, it is no less powerful for it. It’s a relentless, well-oiled machine of bloody revenge, and though everyone is bound to be left wanting more, this particular story (Sony’s Santa Monica Studio have said that the series will continue with or without Kratos) is wrapped up with satisfying, energized bombast.

Technically, the game is a milestone. The 1080p HD visuals are astonishing and this is unquestionably, at this particular moment in time, the best looking videogame ever made. The production values are utterly incomparable, with even the flaky, coarse textures of Kratos’ skin certain to provoke gasps. Mega-budget cutscenes often look like real-time gameplay footage and vice versa, there is no screen-tearing and the frame-rate never drops, and you’ll forget that you can’t move the camera because you never have any reason to: it never misbehaves.

It also features one sequence in particular that is guaranteed to blow your mind. Kratos’ lengthy battle against Kronos – the father of Zeus and Poseiden – isn’t just one of the greatest boss battles in videogame history, and it isn’t just the perfect amalgamation of schematic gameplay precision and jaw-dropping visual fidelity. It is also nothing less than the absolute pinnacle of contemporary videogaming. It sets a new benchmark for everything that the medium can achieve and it does it with disarming nonchalance, and whilst the whole enterprise far from rests upon it, its a set-piece that gamers will be showing off to non-gamers, as well revisiting for themselves, for the entire duration of the Playstation 3‘s remaining life cycle and beyond. Yes. It really is that good.

Devotees are going to be pleased that the broad and ever-so-slightly sick sense of humour remains, and God Of War 3 flaunts its 18 certificate with reckless abandon. The violence may be plentiful and joyously cartoonish, but the merciless invention of it – with Kratos always favouring a gouging eyeball-yank over a simple headbutt – continues to place it in a space way above the numerous pretenders. There is a worthy comparison to be made with the films of George Romero – a studied and serious intellectual who saw the grim brutality of his work as an essential element, and made it his duty to ensure that he shaped those moments into pieces of absurd, blood-drenched comedy.

There is the odd trifling mis-step (the garish sex scene featuring Aphrodite is played a little too straight for comfort) and it isn’t quite as lengthy as the hefty God Of War 2, but this is never anything less than a game that simply has to be played. The combat is perfect as standard, some of the character flourishes are inspired (such as the amusing portrayal of Zeus’ wife Hera, who is painted as a decadent, boozy harpy) and multiple play-throughs are going to feel essential for almost everyone who touches it. If you own a Playstation 3 and are thinking of possibly not investing in God Of War 3, then one can only quote Kratos himself. “What treachery is this, coward?”

Indeed.

Watch the God of War 3 trailer here…

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Team Zavvi

Team Zavvi

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A collection of thoughts, opinions and news from the staff at Zavvi.