God of War III was developed by California-based, Santa Monica Studio, over approximately three years. The game was directed by Stig Asmussen who had previously held the role of Lead Environment Artist, and later Art Director, across several previous God of War instalments. Steve Caterson, who produced both God of War and God of War II, took on the role of Senior Producer for the third entry.
Taking place immediately following the events of God of War II, the game once again casts the player as the Spartan warrior and fallen god, Kratos, and opens with him climbing Mount Olympus to seek revenge against his father and ruler, Zeus. Soon after, following a shocking betrayal, Kratos finds himself trapped in the Underworld where he encounters the spirit of Athena, the Olympian Goddess of Wisdom and War who had sacrificed herself during the events of God of War II. Here, she informs Kratos that to save humanity he must extinguish the Flame of Olympus and overthrow the gods. Armed with this knowledge, and now reunited with his signature weapon, the Blade of Olympus, Kratos sets out on a quest to destroy the home of the gods once and for all. In addition to the 10+ hour single-player campaign, God of War III includes unlockable difficulty modes, a ‘Challenge of Olympus’ challenge mode, a combat arena and behind-the-scenes development videos.
Although many speculated that the God of War series would receive a third mainline instalment, owing to the huge success of both prior PS2 entries, as well as the God of War: Chains of Olympus PlayStation Portable release, the first confirmation of the game’s existence would be in a June 2007 statement from Sony regarding the departure of God of War II director, Cory Barlog, from Santa Monica Studio. Referring to the God of War creative team, the Sony spokesperson shared that the team were still “dedicated to creating even more epic content with God of War: Chains of Olympus for the PSP and God of War III for PS3.” Subsequent reports have stated that Barlog left the Studio after the game had been in development for around 8 months, at which point Asmussen then took over as director.
The game engine used for God of War III is an enhanced version of the same used for both the previous two PS2 titles. In a March 2010 interview with Gamasutra, God of War III’s producer, Steve Caterson explained how the prior game’s engine provided the development team with a starting point when it came to exploring the PlayStation 3 hardware. “The very first thing the tech guys did was they ported the God of War II engine to the PlayStation 3,” explained Caterson. “That meant that we could immediately start designing stuff and immediately get in and start working on things.” Using the custom PS3 port of God of War II as an initial basis, and in close collaboration with the studio’s programming team, the studio steadily replaced and swapped out PlayStation 2 features with newer, more-advanced content now achievable on the PlayStation 3 hardware. As development progressed, elements such as the game’s renderer, particle system and collision system would all be gradually swapped out.
The incremental leap from PS2 to PS3 allowed the creative team to dramatically increase the level of detail in God of War III over what was possible in the series’ prior entries. In a 2010 interview with Richard Leadbetter of Digital Foundry, God of War III art director Ken Feldman shared how God of War III compared, on a technical level, to previous instalments. “If you look at Kratos on the PS2, he is about 5000 polygons,” explains Feldman. “He is about 20,000 polygons now. I think he had three textures on the PlayStation 2. I think he has at least 20 textures on him now. The animation data on him is probably about six times as big.”
Upon release, God of War III received countless positive review scores with critics praising the game’s brutal combat, impressive visuals and grand scale. In his review of the game, Joe Juba of website Gameinformer gave the game a perfect 10 out of 10, and concluded his article by saying that “Not even in my wildest dreams could I have imagined such a powerful, cinematic, and breathtaking conclusion to the saga of the Ghost of Sparta.” The game would go on to win numerous awards including “Best PS3 Game” and “Best Graphics” at the 2010 Spike Video Game Awards, as well as an “Artistic Achievement” award at the 2011 BAFTAs.
Set between the first two PS2 titles, the PSP entry, God of War: Ghost of Sparta, would release several months following God of War III’s debut in November 2010. A prequel to the whole series, God of War: Ascension would follow 3 years later for the PS3. In 2018 the series would finally return with the sequel/reboot, God of War. Set many years after God of War III, the game sees Kratos now in the world of Norse mythology accompanied by his son, Atreus.
Are you a fan of the God of War series?
What did you think of the third instalment?
Did you enjoy the 2018 PS4 reboot/sequel, God of War?
What would you like to see next from the franchise?