God of War III is the third game in the God of War series, and the final game chronologically to take place in Greece. The game follows Kratos as he exacts his vengeance on the Gods of Olympus, especially his father Zeus.
God of War III features gameplay similar to previous instalments. The player controls the character, Kratos, in a combination of first-person/third-person combat (including quick-time), platforming and puzzle game elements. Kratos' main weapons are the Blades of Exile (initially the Blades of Athena), with other new weapons, including the Claws of Hades, the Nemean Cestus and the Nemesis Whip. The Nemean Cestus (a pair of fist gauntlets) and the Bow of Apollo are crucial to the game, as they are required to advance through certain stages of the game.
Unlike the previous games in the series, the primary weapons also dictate the use of magic, with each weapon having an individual magic ability: Divine Reckoning (Blades of Athena), Army of Sparta (Blades of Exile), Soul Summon (Claws of Hades), Nemean Roar (Nemean Cestus) and Nemesis Rage (Nemesis Whip). The power of each magic ability increases via upgrading the weapon to which each is linked (excluding the temporary Divine Reckoning).
Kratos also has an array of secondary weapons referred to as Items that have limited usage before needing recharging (which occurs automatically), being the Bow of Apollo, the Head of Helios and Boots of Hermes.
The relics (Poseidon's Trident, the Golden Fleece and Icarus Wings) that were acquired in previous games are automatically retained. The Blade of Olympus is also retained, but is no longer a primary weapon, being now utilized in conjunction with the special magic feature,The Rage of Sparta. The Rage of Sparta is the equivalent to the Rage of the Gods and Rage of the Titans from God of War and God of War II, respectively, and provides temporary invulnerability and increased attack damage. The Blade of Olympus is also used in several cut scenes to provide the finishing move on several foes and is used as the magic ability for the Blades of Athena.
Kratos also acquires another "passive" item similar to Poseidon's Trident: Hades' Soul, which allows Kratos to swim in the River Styx without being attacked by lost souls.
Health and Magic upgrades—Gorgon Eyes and Phoenix Feathers respectively—reappear, although in this instance, only three (as opposed to the original six) items need to be found for an upgrade. Minotaur Horns have also been added as a possible find and upgrade the charge for Items. All three upgrades are found in a style of chest that differs from normal Health and magic-giving chests, unlike the previous games.
Almost all upgraded weapons and magic acquired in previous games are gone at the beginning of gameplay, with Kratos only retaining the fully upgraded Blades of Athena, the Golden Fleece, Icarus Wings, and the Blade of Olympus. The Blades of Athena and Blade of Olympus are lost after the first main battle. The Blades of Athena, however, are replaced by the Blades of Exile and the Blade of Olympus is eventually recovered.
Many of the familiar combination attacks reappear, with the new additions including the combat grapple: a ranged "grab" maneuver that, depending on the weapon, can either pull Kratos towards foes or forces them away (necessary at certain points in the game, with Kratos effectively "riding" harpies across chasms), and a simple grab with bare hands that allows Kratos to use lesser foes as a battering ram. Kratos can also rapidly switch between weapons (eventually, all four primary weapons) in battle and continue the same attack combination.
Other changes include an increase in the number of enemies onscreen, increasing from 15 to a maximum of 50. During several major battles, the camera also pans out away from the fight sequence, although the player can still control Kratos while the camera is panning to add a new level of gameplay.
Game director Stig Asmussen claimed that the hardware capabilities of the PlayStation 3 allow more flexibility in creating the characters of God of War III and allow for further interaction with the environment. Christer Ericson of SCE Santa Monica Studio announced on his Twitter page that God of War III has seamless loading (no Loading screens and No HDD installation requirement).
The sex mini-game included in previous instalments returns (an encounter with goddess Aphrodite while her two servants watch), although, on this occasion, it links into the story. Other extra features includes the addition of 10 "godly possessions", which are often hidden near foes and provide additional abilities during bonus play. The game also features 36 Trophies, which are awarded for Kratos' achievements (e.g. "Releasing the Floodgates" for killing Poseidon). Upon obtaining the platinum trophy, players are linked to the website, spartansstandtall.com. On May 4, 2010, it was revealed that the site was a teaser and the official site for the second PSP title in the franchise, God of War: Ghost of Sparta.
As with previous game instalments, a challenge mode is included (seven trials called the "Challenge of Olympus"). A bonus challenge mode was included in both the Ultimate and Ultimate Trilogy Editions of the game called the "Challenge of Exile", with an extra seven challenges (now available on the PlayStation Store). A new mode called the "Combat Arena"is also included in all versions, with the player able to create their own battles and set the level of difficulty. Stig Asmussen stated more challenges may be added as downloadable contentto maintain the series.
In the opening sequence, Kratos stands on the back of the Titan Gaia, as she and the other Titans climb Mount Olympus to assault the Gods of Olympus.
The Olympian gods launch a counter-assault, and Poseidon was killed by the combined efforts of Kratos and Gaia- his death caused the oceans to flood. Kratos and Gaia attempt to attack Zeus, but are driven back and fall down Mount Olympus. Gaia clings to the side of the mountain and refuses to save Kratos, stating he was nothing more than a pawn.
Kratos falls into the underworld, losing the Blade of Olympus. Kratos lands in the River Styx, and the souls of the underworld weaken Kratos and ruin the Blades of Athena. After exiting the river, Kratos is confronted by the spirit of Athena, who provides him with the Blades of Exile and states that to destroy Zeus he must quell the Flame of Olympus. After several battles, Kratos locates the Three Judges of the Underworld and the Chain of Balance that maintains the equilibrium between the Underworld, Earth, and Olympus. After a conversation with the spirit of Pandora, Kratos recovers the Blade of Olympus.
Kratos encounters the Olympian blacksmith Hephaestus, and later kills Hades. Hades' death releases the souls of the underworld and exacerbates the chaos caused by Kratos' assault on Olympus. After exiting the underworld, Kratos travels to Olympia, where he encounters a wounded Gaia. Kratos ignores Gaia's request for aid and severs her arm, causing her to fall from Mount Olympus to her apparent death.
As Kratos continues his ascent, he overcomes various foes, including the Titan Perses and the god Helios - the latter's death blotting out the sun and causing worldwide darkness and storms. Learning that Pandora's Box is once again the key to the success of his quest, Kratos then kills an overconfident Hermes, his death releasing a plague on the world. Kratos also encounters his half-brother Hercules, who is encouraged by a watching Hera to murder the "bastard". Kratos, however, kills Hercules and travels to various locations to find the key to opening Pandora's Box, finally discovering that Pandora, herself, is the key and that only she can quell the "Flame of Olympus", a lethal fire that surrounds the Box. After Kratos is forced to kill Cronos and then Hephaestus, the Spartan travels through Hera's Gardens, where he kills the taunting goddess (her death causing the end of all plant life). Kratos then returns to the Labyrinth to find Pandora.
After fighting his way through the Labyrinth and rescuing Pandora, Kratos is instructed by Athena to break the Chain of Balance so that the Labyrinth can be raised and Pandora can reach Pandora's Box. After neutralizing the Three Judges and breaking the Chain, Kratos raises the Labyrinth and Pandora attempts to enter the Flame of Olympus. Zeus intervenes, but, after a brief battle, Pandora successfully sacrifices herself (despite Kratos' protests) and quenches the Flame. Kratos discovers Pandora's Box is empty, and battles Zeus once again.
Gaia suddenly returns and attempts to kill the pair, but both escape via a gaping wound in her neck. Kratos eventually kills Gaia by impaling Zeus against her heart with the Blade of Olympus, an act that apparently also kills Zeus. Kratos recovers the Blade and begins to depart, but is then attacked by Zeus' spirit. Losing consciousness, he is saved by Pandora during a mental journey into his own psyche. Forgiving himself for his past sins, Kratos regains consciousness and viciously beats Zeus to death.
Athena reappears, demanding Kratos return what he apparently took from Pandora's Box. Kratos states the box was empty, which Athena refuses to believe. Athena explains that when Zeus sealed the evils of the world (greed, fear and hate) within the box, she foresaw that it would eventually be opened, and so she placed her own power —hope — within the box. Athena then realizes that when Kratos first opened the box to defeat Ares, the evils escaped and infected the Olympian Gods, while Kratos was endowed with hope. Athena demands Kratos return her power, stating she knows how to use it to rebuild the world. Kratos refuses and impales himself with the Blade of Olympus, releasing hope's power for all mankind. An angered Athena pulls the sword from Kratos and states that he has disappointed her. Kratos, nearing death, collapses as she departs.
In a post-credits scene, a trail of blood is shown, leading away from an abandoned Blade of Olympus, leaving Kratos' final fate ambiguous.
In 2007, God of War director David Jaffe stated that it would be "hell on earth" as the gods and the titans battle each other for domination and that "God of War explains, or ultimately will explain, why there are no more Greek myths". Jaffe also envisaged a very different end for the series, with other mythological pantheons becoming involved once Kratos killed Zeus and the other Greek gods. The end result would have apparently been mankind no longer believing in the gods, which according to Jaffe is the only true way a deity can die. Although Jaffe and Barlog left Sony for other opportunities, they are still credited for the series.
On December 8, 2009, Stig Asmussen told IGN that Cory Barlog "was with the team as Game Director for the first eight months of development," and that "he has had a major impact on the game." Asmussen also mentioned that even though Cory left the team, they spoke several times and "bounced a few ideas off him," but there was no formal collaboration. He also mentioned that David Jaffe "has been around the studio a few times" and that they've spoken as well and "have gone over some high level stuff with him to get his observations and feedback" on a few occasions. The finished game script was approximately 120 pages.
God of War III was first discussed by Cory Barlog at a God of War II launch event. Barlog stated that the game would run at full 1080p HD resolution, and the game would support Sixaxis tilt and vibration functions. This was stated before the DualShock 3 controller was announced; therefore causing confusion as the Sixaxis controller did not support rumble. Barlog also expressed an interest in adding a cooperative mode "if we can do something unique with it".
In March 2009 during the Game Developers Conference, the developers stated that the Sixaxis capabilities have been removed, due to the fact that the developers "could not find a suitable situation to use Sixaxis in the game effectively", and have decided to scrap the idea altogether rather than put it in and have it working poorly.
In November 2009, Stig Asmussen, Game Director for God of War III, advised GamePro that multi-player wouldn't work in God of War III, stating that there's a story we want to tell and an experience we want to deliver, and multiplayer doesn't fit into that." Asmussen, however, did mention that there were conversations about a multiplayer option. When the game went gold on February 20, 2010, it was confirmed that multiplayer was not included.
Asmussen also stated that one of the biggest challenges in developing God of War III on the PlayStation 3 was the "complexity of everything", and that individual tasks could take a year because the "level of detail that's expected is so high and intricate, it crosses multiple departments." Asmussen mentioned that the overall game length was between 10 to 20 hours, "depending on how good of a gamer you are." John Hight, studio director at Santa Monica, reassured that God of War III lasts longer than ten hours. "We've done a lot of play testing on it...We know, for a really hardcore player, it'll take them longer than it took them to play either of the previous God of War games." In December 2009, Asmussen advised IGN that the game was in the final stages of development. "The entire game is together from start to finish and we're working our butts off putting on the finishing touches."
Kratos attacks Olympian god Hades with the Bow of Apollo. On December 16, 2008, Sony claimed that God of War III will be the last in the franchise. In January 2010, however, John Hight told Joystiq that "while God of War III will conclude the trilogy, it won't spell the end of the franchise", claiming "We're going to be really careful about what we do next."
In a February 2009 interview, God of War III director Stig Asmussen mentioned the possibility of downloadable content. In November 2009, he told GamePro that the game might be shipped with a certain amount of challenges, and that they might put out a download pack with new challenges to keep the series going. In the development of lighting the game, Illuminate Labs product Turtle was used.
On March 23, 2009, it was revealed Sony sourcing opinions regarding a "Collector's Edition" from current PlayStation 3 owners. In October 2009, an "Ultimate Edition" was revealed for the North American release. An "Ultimate Trilogy Edition" was announced in December 2009 for a limited European, Australian, and New Zealand release. A "Trilogy Edition" was announced soon after for Japan, where CERO gave the game an adults-only Z rating, after the previous two were considered suitable for teenagers.
On February 16, 2010, it was revealed that there are no true CGI cinematics in God of War III. SCEA animator Bruno Velazquez stated "that while the first two God of War titles certainly boasted CGI cinematics, there will actually be no true CGI in the third and final installment", and "Everything you see is 100% in-game. All camera features, including motion blur, run real-time in the cinematics and in-game. For this game we decided to try and blend in the cinematic sequences with the in-game sequences, so all models and assets are used for cinematics and for in-game."
Velazquez later stated "When I mentioned that GOW3 has no CG, I was referring to the fact that we do not have pre-rendered scenes that were created outside of the game engine, like GOW 1 and 2. In GOW3 all the cutscenes are created using our in-game engine, however some scenes were just too epic to run real time and thus are recorded videos."
According to Sony Santa Monica's director of technology Tim Moss, God of War III uses 35 gigabytes.
The first teaser for God of War III appeared as an image (the PlayStation 3 logo surrounded by the omega logo) at the rear of the instruction manual of the retail version of God of War: Chains of Olympus. On July 15, 2008, a teaser trailer was screened at SCE's E3 press conference.
On December 14, 2008, a second trailer premiered at the Spike Video Game Awards. The dubbed "official" God of War III trailer was released on February 13, 2009.
An exclusive God of War III game trailer debuted on Spike's GameTrailers TV on February 11, 2010. On the US PlayStation Blog, Director Stig Asmussen confirmed that all footage from the trailer "is pulled straight from the game – there is no trickery, etc. Everything is running in 'real time.'" Asmussen also stated that "there are no 'cinematic' sequences here, meaning this is all gameplay".
A new trailer debuted at the launch of God of War III on March 16, 2010. All trailers, and three wallpapers for the PS3's XMB, are currently available to download and view in 720p or1080p from the PlayStation Store.
God of War III was first released in North America on March 16, 2010. It was released on March 18, 2010 in Australia, March 19, 2010 in Europe, and March 25, 2010 in Japan.
The God of War series has now sold over 11.5 million units worldwide as of the end of March 2010. God of War III outsold its predecessor by nearly 400,000 units in its week one sales.
According to the retail tracker NPD group, God of War III sold approximately 1.1 million copies by the end of March 2010 in the United States. It was the best-selling game on any console and its opening month sales were 32% higher than the one of its predecessor, God of War II.
Contents of God of War III Ultimate Trilogy Edition for Europe, Australia and New Zealand. In October 2009, SCE Studios Santa Monica announced the God of War III Ultimate Edition. With a pre-order, the package included a high-end sculpted replica of Pandora's Box, a limited edition God of War art book, and exclusive digital content available via the PlayStation Network.
The exclusive digital content included the "Challenge of Exile" mode, "Dominus" premium Kratos skin, God of War: Unearthing the Legendfranchise documentary, the God of War trilogy soundtrack, and the God of War: Blood & Metal EP: a heavy metal homage featuring original music from bands from the Roadrunner Records label, such as Opeth, Killswitch Engage and Dream Theater. The EP was released for purchase on March 2, 2010. On March 24, 2010, the God of War: Unearthing the Legend franchise documentary was released on the PlayStation Store for purchase.
Pre-orders for the Ultimate Edition began on October 30, 2009. Select retailers also included a premium skin for Kratos, being the "Apollo" skin, the "Forgotten Warrior" skin, and the "Phantom of Chaos" skin, available from Amazon.com, Game Crazy or Play.com, and GameStop respectively. Beginning February 11, 2010, pre-orders from GameStop also included a 17x24 poster signed by Andy Park, Concept Artist for God of War III.
GameStop also held a "Be the Envy of the Gods" sweepstakes for all pre-order customers, with prizes including pizza for a year, a Sony Home Entertainment System, a VIP trip to a premier music festival, or an MMA experience in Las Vegas.
On December 15, 2009, the God of War team accepted video submissions from players to determine who apparently was the "Ultimate God of War fan." The development team selected the top 18 submissions which are included within the ending credits of God of War: Unearthing the Legend – a full-length movie documentary depicting the history of the God of Warfranchise and how the events in the games relate to actual Greek Mythology. All the selected winners received a copy of the God of War III Ultimate Edition signed by the development team. The winners were announced on March 5, 2010.
On December 17, 2009, SCE Studios Santa Monica announced the God of War III Ultimate Trilogy Edition which contained more content than the God of War III Ultimate Edition for a limited release in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. The package contained all of the content in the God of War III Ultimate Edition, in addition to including God of War Collection, all four of the premium Kratos skins, and God of War postcards.Pre-orders for the Ultimate Trilogy Edition began on January 14, 2010 at Game and GameStation.
On January 13, 2010, 7-Eleven accepted pre-orders for God of War III, with an exclusive pre-order bonus, a God of War III poster. On January 29, 2010, it was announced that from February 1, 2010 until March 31, 2010, 7-Eleven would be selling a limited edition Slurpee drink called "Kratos Fury" (a blend of blackberries and frosty lime flavors) available in one of four exclusive God of War III Slurpee cups. The cups also featured codes that could also be used on the Slurpee website for exclusive God of War III and Slurpee themed downloadable content. The content included a God of War III Behind-The-Scenes Video, two God of War III themed PC wallpapers, a Kratos dynamic XMB theme, a God of War III XMB theme, God of War III, Slurpee, and 7-Eleven themed virtual shirts for PlayStation Home and an in-game Kratos skin - the Morpheus Armour.
7-Eleven also produced 2 Litre and 20 oz bottles of Mountain Dew that featured a voucher that was redeemable on PSN for another God of War III virtual t-shirt and a Mountain Dew virtual hoodie for PlayStation Home. The 7-Eleven promotions were only available in the United States.
In Japan, God of War III was released in two packages: a standalone version and a God of War Trilogy edition version, with latter including God of War III and the God of War Collection. Both versions of the game are published by Sony Computer Entertainment, although the God of War Collection disc in the "Trilogy" edition is published by Capcom(the company previously released all God of War games in Japan.
In Europe, Amazon.fr released a special God of War III PS3 bundle, including a 250GB PS3 and a copy of God of War III. A line of action figures based on God of War III were also produced by DC Unlimited.
On February 14, 2010, Sony and Spike TV announced a competition, challenging the God of War III fans to become the "Last Titan Standing". Fans (21 years of age or older) could enter the contest and win a chance to play God of War III before mainstream release. On March 15, 2010, Spike's GameTrailers TV presented the God of War III: Last Titan Standing at 11:58 p.m. on Spike TV. The 30 minute special featured ten God of War fans from the United States engaged in physical and mental challenges, with the receiving a specially made God of War III PS3 emblazoned with an image of Kratos' face and the God of War III text.
On March 8, 2010 on GodofWar.com, the developers released a new exclusive feature called the "Path to Olympus." Produced in segments, the episodes provide backstory on Kratos' history.
God of War III also featured in a humorous "It Only Does Everything" advertising campaign commercial with Sony character Kevin Butler (a female called "Insignificant Other" phones PlayStation regarding her boyfriend constantly playing God of War III and ignoring her. Sony's "Regional Manager of War" is also playing God of War III and ignores the complaint). The God of War III: Media Kit.
On March 19, 2010, PlayStation.Blog Europe unveiled the God of War III: Media Kit which was distributed to a limited number of journalists across PAL Territories. The "Media Kit" consists of a Worn 'Omega' wooden box, God of War III, Kratos metal coin, DVD with screenshots, artwork, concept visuals, Art cards, and a mini-poster. SCEE also gave away several Media Kits via a competition that ran on the eu.PlayStation.com during the week of March 22, 2010.
On Saturday, March 20, 2010, a NASCAR vehicle, driven by Joey Logano during the Scotts Turf Builder 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway, was revealed, sporting a brand new God of War III and GameStop themed paint scheme.
On April 1, 2010, Machinima.com released five "Art of the Game" videos for God of War III on the PlayStation Store. The videos feature exclusive interviews with different developers of the team, including Lead Cinematic Environment Artist John Palamarchuk, Lead Combat Designer Adam Puhl, Design Director Tod Papy, Lead In-Game Animator Bruno Velasquez, and Character Concept Artist Izzy Medrano. Each episode is five to six minutes in length.
For a limited time, specially marked boxes of the PSP game God of War: Ghost of Sparta included an exclusive voucher enabling a download of the "Deimos Skin" (Kratos' brother) for use in God of War III.
To celebrate God of War III entering Sony's library of Greatest Hits, the SCE Studios Santa Monica team launched a sweepstakes on March 4, 2011 (running until April 1, 2011). Fans have the opportunity to submit an original design of their own "Ultimate God of War Monster", with three prizes (various versions of new book release "The Art of God of War III") being awarded.
At E3 2009, the God of War III demo was revealed. Kratos was featured on the cliffs of Mount Olympus battling various monsters (Olympian Legionnaires, a centaur, a chimera and acyclops); decapitates the god Helios and encounters the Titan Perses; engages in "Harpy Riding" (courtesy of new Item, the Bow of Apollo) and uses the Blades of Athena and new weapons, the Cestus.
On October 28, 2009, SCEE sent emails to PlayStation Network members with an activation code for the demo. As of October 30, 2009, GameStop provided voucher codes for customers who pre-ordered the standard or Ultimate Edition of God of War III. Specially marked copies of God of War: Collection were released on November 17, 2009 with voucher codes to download the demo.
On October 28, 2009, it was announced that all copies of the Blu-ray version of the feature film District 9 will have a copy of the God of War III demo and a "making of" featurette pre-loaded on the disc. The Blu-ray version of District 9 was released on December 22, 2009.
The God of War III E3 2009 demo was made available to all current (at the time) Qore subscribers on February 4, 2010. As of February 25, 2010, Sony Computer Entertainment released the demo to download on the PlayStation Store in Europe and North America regions.
On March 9, 2010, Eurogamer published an article comparing the graphics in the God of War III demo to those in the final game, showing improved lighting and motion blur in the final release.
On November 2, 2010, the "Dominus" character skin and "Challenge of Exile" mode were released as a bundle to purchase on the PlayStation Store (free for PlayStation Plus subscribers, who can also receive the "Phantom of Chaos" and "Forgotten Warrior" skins when purchasing God of War and God of War II respectively). All previous pre-order bonus costumes ("Phantom of Chaos", "Apollo", and "Forgotten Warrior") were released (together with the "Morpheus Armour" from the 7-Eleven promotion) on the PlayStation Store, and are available separately or as a bundle ("Phantom of Chaos" and "Forgotten Warrior" are no longer available for purchase). The God of War III PlayStation Home t-shirts from the 7-Eleven promotion are also available.
God of War III has received universal critical acclaim. In the February 16, 2010 edition of the Official PlayStation Magazine UK, the first review score was given as 9/10. Reviewer Nathan Ditum says "the game is inches away from scoring 10/10, it's only the familiarity of the core gameplay that makes it feel less than the very, very best. But it's definitely the biggest, and if this is the finale, then God of War III gives PlayStation's toughest hero the send-off he deserves." Ditum also praised the graphics, stating it was as good if not better than Killzone 2 and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves.
In the February 20, 2010 issue of the French version of PSM3 Magazine, God of War III was given a perfect score of 20/20. According to the editorial, it is "simply one of the best games of all time."
X-Play (5/5) stated that the game "finishes the trilogy on an exceptionally high note", and that it "blends all of its best attributes into a stellar experience." Of their complaints, they felt that one puzzle was "particularly inappropriate."
IGN (9.3/10) praised the game stating that "God of War III practically redefines what the word 'scale' means with regards to video games, as it throws you into scenes with Titans that are larger than entire levels in some other games." The only complaint the IGN reviewer had was "that two of the three additional weapons that you'll earn are extremely similar to your blades. They have unique powers and slightly different moves, but by and large, they're more of the same." In terms of visuals, the reviewer said that "God of War III presents some of the most impressive visuals that I've ever seen in a game. Kratos in particular looks phenomenal, and is perhaps the single most impressive-looking character ever in videogames.
GameTrailers (9.2/10) stated God of War III "this is some next level stuff." In their praise of the story they stated "If it’s possible to make Greek Mythology even more interesting than it already is, God of War III does it...." and "the levels are expertly designed, taking you down avenues so unique that you’re surprised when you pop back into a familiar area" and "the scale of game, from top to bottom, is its most outstanding visual achievement."
Gamestyle (9/10) praised the title: "There's is so much right with the game it's hard to think of its few issues as anything but minor niggles" yet went on to criticize the script, claiming it "gets downright hokey at times". Overall, the website settled for an approving outlook on the game, touting it as a "must have exclusive" for the console.