Project 5: God Of War III

Heavy Rain didn’t quite manage it, but Uncharted 2 certainly did. What are we talking about? Using the first five minutes of a game to sell the whole concept to the player, to hook them in and make them want to keep going: it’s not an easy task, but the best developers know how to do it, and so we turn to another PlayStation 3 exclusive in the form of God of War III.

Surely if anyone knows how to keep you entertained from the off it’s Kratos, right?

[drop]Right.  God of War III starts in bombastic fashion: the epic scale of Mt. Olympus rising into the sky is one thing, but the sight of several Titans ascending the mountain as they converge on Zeus is another, and the game wastes no time in throwing Kratos right into the middle of it – onto the still climbing hulk of Gaia, no less, and already surrounded by an angry mob wanting blood.

The game treats this initial segment as a relatively smooth introductory period – the enemies aren’t terribly deadly and thus the drip-fed onscreen prompts that show the player which button does what don’t need to be rushed.  Once familiar with light and heavy attacks the player’s free to dispatch the bad guys without fuss, moving on the story at a relatively quick pace – but one ultimately controlled by the player.

A few other buttons are relayed during the opening minutes, but nothing too complicated – what the game does well is mix up the first couple of battles against the low-powered enemies so that the player can translate his newly learned skills to a number of scenarios, and when Poseidon rears his head as the scale ramps up considerably, the player is ready to put these skills to good use.  This first boss battle is obviously made easy without being insulting, but it sets the scene perfectly.

[drop2]Ending with a (pre-empted) quick time event, the player is tasked with tapping buttons when prompted to see off Poseidon, and this closing method of dispatch seals off the first portion of the game neatly.  In it, the player has learnt to move, fight, dodge, attack upside down and on a vertical surface and knows how boss battles are handled, without once feeling like they’ve been patronised or spoon-fed.

Of course, the epic scale of everything going on only serves to highlight that this is a development studio at the top of their game visually, and in terms of an opening section it still feels as fresh as the day it was first unleashed roughly a year ago.  When first impressions count so importantly, it’s crucial to get this bit right: Sony’s Santa Monica Studio absolutely nailed God of War III’s opening.



  1. Sounds pretty good, I haven’t got round to playing GoWIII yet, but its on my list – perhaps in the near future.

    Also, very much enjoying these articles, it’s an interesting way to look at a game – and certainly must be an important consideration for developers. Nice one Nofi!

    • I have played ooodles of games now, been gaming for 26 years [I am 31] and I can tell you NOTHING took my breath away like the opening sequence of God of War 3. Uncharted 2 was close as the world felt so real and unpredictable, but for sheer awe, God of War 3 is where its at. Totally staggering, completely untradeable.

      Buy it mate, its a staple PS3 game, a must you see!

      • check Amazon, its £18 new.

      • Totally agree Foxhound_Solid. I can’t see this being topped on Project 5.

  2. I remeber getting the game, starting the first section and being absolutely astounded. That first fight with posieden was amazing. One of the best bits of the game.

  3. Absolutely awesome start to an awesome game. No other title has managed to get my blood pumping that fast just 5 minutes in, perfectly outlines what God of War is all about, intense and epic it was.

    Here’s hoping GOW4 isn’t too far away!

    • Yes – God of War 4 even rhymes its gonna be that EPIC!

      Give us God of War 3 demo with Twisted Metal Dave!


  4. Great opening to a great game. I do still laugh at the cutscene with Zeus shortly after though. “Zeus I will kill you! oop, no I won’t, I’ll fall off a cliff to make a full game out of it” :D

    • tbf he does fall into the underworld and has to face the other gods before he can get to zeus

      • Lol true. I can just imagine the poor guy writing the script thinking “why the hell did we end the last game on (literally) a cliff hanger?! …I’ve got it! He falls off and has to climb back up again. That’ll work” :)

  5. what way was GOW3 developed becuse i remember reading that with either GOW1 or 2 that they made it backwards, starting of with the end and finish with the start.

  6. I will agree that, gameplay wise, the first 5 minutes were brilliantly paced and fun. However, I came to this game without playing either of the first two, and the beginning made no sense. I knew a little bit about greek mythology and recognised most of the gods/titans etc. But at that point, I had no idea what was going on, just being thrown into the action was a terrible way of starting the story

    • If I recall, there is a lengthy animated cutscene before the game starts that acts as a “story so far”. But I agree to some extent, action packed intros can alienate newcomers to a series.

    • You must have expected that starting a trilogy with the third one though?

      • Well there was that cutscene, but it comes after kratos falls into the Styx, about 15 minutes in, and whilst obviously the 3rd installement isn’t the best place to start, when you look at most other gaming sequels, no knowledge of previous games is necessary, eg. Uncharted 2, assassins creed 2, Modern Warfare 2 and Killzone 2 & 3. I guess that alot of other games have done this better and it is the only fault in an otherwise brilliant beginning

      • it is not a fault of the game, it is meant as a series, in other words, you are meant to have played 1 and 2 before 3, because you would have learned that his skin is covered in the ashes of his wife and child (who he himself killed) which started the whole GOD’s must die rampage he goes on.

        you wouldn’t start watching a film halfway through and expect to know, or be told what happened at the start.

  7. Dammit nofi your making me play God of War III again lol. I’m going to replay GoW III on God mode (I believe that is higher than Titan, right?)
    Yes intro where was awesome and I thought I got everything, powers and weapons max, but I realised in GoW 2 and maybe 1? They were maxed until it got stripped off after 5mins, lol bah!
    I find it hard to believe which one’s the best intro –
    Uncharted 2 vs. God of War III

    • Another really good intro to a game, Star Wars Force Unleashed. Lots of wookie-whomping-action while controlling Mr Vader :)

    • It’s actually Chaos mode. I played it on Titan mode last month and even that was a challenge. Good luck with Chaos mode.

    • Now, I like Uncharted but I also like God of War 3, but which one is better?

      There’s only one way to find out?


    • I’d say God Of War 3 has the best intro, Uncharted 2 being the better game overall though.. ;-)

  8. i got God of War 3 as part of the bundle when i bought my slim last year. having never played the first 2 i didn’t know too much about it, i waited till i got the HD re-release of 1 and 2 and did them in order. if the hd re-release had not happened i might not have ever got God of War 3 and missed out on what is for me 1 of the best games of this generation.

  9. i just can’t stand the bloody QTEs all over the place in the god of war games, branching QTEs like in heavy rain aren’t too bad but these, miss one button press and start over again, ones get right on my nerves, can’t we just assume kratos is going to be successful at pulling the head of that guy or stabbing that other thing in the eye.

    and why do i have to mash the buttons just to open a bloody door.
    they’re bloody good games apart from the overabundance of QTEs.

  10. I’ve always preferred Devil May Cry, God of War didn’t really cut it for me

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