There's new gear aplenty, in fact. Some of it slots neatly into spaces from old games, admittedly, but there's also a good ol' chunk of wholly new or tweaked equipment for Kratos to get his god-beating mitts on.
There are new swords, such as the Blades of Exile that the Bald One comes across while sojourning in Hades, as well as more eclectic gear like the Cestus – lion-headed gauntlets that let you smash through walls and foes alike.
There's Apollo's Bow too, which, like the Cestus, is often used as a key to overcome obstacles and unlock new areas. Using flaming arrows Kratos can detonate explosive urns (not even ancient Greece can turn it's back on that cliché, it seems) and burn his way through troublesome undergrowth. It's a little bewildering that the Spartan skinhead should be slowed down by something as simple as prickly bushes, but a flaming arrow soon clears that up regardless.
There's the usual series of upgrades too, with Kratos collecting the usual green, blue or red floating orbs to help heal him or enhance his abilities. Varying the types of attacks you use will net you more than the standard amount of experience, and you can upgrade weapons individually to unlock new moves or magic attacks.
God of War III isn't afraid to show you a bit of gore
It's honestly a bit hard to distinguish most of the standard attack moves from those seen in previous games to see if they've been tweaked or enhanced. Not only has it been a while since we last plugged in a God of War title, but Krato's usual hurricane of hits makes him hard to keep track of on screen. It's always been one of the core delights of controlling him that a single button press can unleash a series of wide sweeps that streak the screen in gold and gore. He really is a dervish of destruction, and we hope that never changes.
There's still plenty of new combos and specials to get preoccupied with though, with a particular favourite being the way that you can summon a supporting phalanx of Spartans that surround you in shields and give a single thrust outwards. It's incredibly effective at clearing an arena of smaller enemies, allowing you to plough your blades and attention equally into tougher foes such as Minotaurs or Gorgons. Defeating these monsters in certain ways can often net you a certain bonus, such as a guaranteed dispense of health orbs or the ability to turn enemies to stone. Be warned that the game is incredibly gory though, and seriously not for the faint-hearted. Hi-res eyeballs are ripped out in agonising slow motion, while heads and veins are severed in disturbing detail and frequency. Kratos ends up carrying one such head around with him for most of the game in fact, though it does possess a few special powers that make it more than a simple trophy...
The big bosses are where the main spectacle is though, and God of War's PS3 debut doesn't disappoint when it comes to making use of the Sony (and Nvidia) hardware. Sweeping camera shots let you take in a massive scene with ease and without slowdown, while placing the QTE prompts sensibly on the screen means you never get distracted enough to die. When you're asked to press Triangle (the top button on the pad) then the image appears at the top of the screen with a little flash to grab your attention, while Square appears on the left hand side.
Ancient Greeks: Taking down endangered species one at a time
We're still not really big fans of quicktime events, but they've become a staple of the series now and we have to admit that God of War III handles them pretty well, with only the occasional exception. Hammer-the-button sequences are never something we enjoy, in all honesty. Bloody RSI.
Despite all God of War III's technical excellence and clever new combos though, it's the sheer scale and beauty of the thing that leaves a lasting impression. It's a gorgeous game to look at, sure, but that's not the whole story. The game has something else beyond that; something that other studios claim to achieve but rarely do – a sense of real, honest cinema that carries it through all of the few annoyances. The flying sequences are especially fast-paced and abrupt for our tastes, for example.
God of War III is a properly epic game, not just in terms of the size of the battles but also in terms of the characters and the impact it has. It doesn't do anything totally new or big, but just does the simple things better than anything else and tweaks a few things in subtle ways. Brutal boss-finishing sequences that are viewed from the first-person perspective of your victim, for example. Getting players to click the thumbsticks in as Kratos gouges out the eyes of a God isn't something that many other games developers would have thought of – and it's things like that which help put God of War III in a league of its own.