I know what you’re thinking right now, and it is this: ZOMG HOW HAVE YOU NOT PLAYED GOD OF WAR UNTIL NOW KRATOS IS MADE OF EPIC WIN AND ALSO THERE ARE BOOBS!! ….well, you may not be thinking precisely that, but I bet it’s relatively close. And I admit, the fact that the first two God of War games have somehow slipped through my hacking and slashing clutches for so long was a secret shame of mine. The release of the third game this year gave me the perfect excuse to step back in time a bit to try and catch up on the series, and the fact that the first two installments are now available on one shiny PS3 disc just made it all the easier. I wouldn’t want to miss any of the subtle story nuances by skipping straight to the third game, would I? Of course not.
1. Are You Paying Attention?- I admit up front that I am pulling the following statement out of my ass, so if you would like to dispute it and/or present differing examples, please do: God of War is one of the first games that really latched onto the idea of quick time events (the bane of many a gamer, myself frequently included) as a major gameplay feature. It’s an interesting choice, because you can get away with a largely button-mashing approach through a lot of the combat portion of the game if you are so inclined, but the QTEs ensure that you have to at least have some connection to the fight. Yes, it’s frequently annoying, and yes, I’m quite sure it’s resulted in many, many, MANY broken controllers over the years, but I’m just putting it out there: quick time events serve a purpose. Even if you don’t think they serve a mechanical purpose in the fighting, you have to admit that they do allow for some pretty badass cutscenes and death animations (for the bosses, that is…. for repeated larger enemies they admittedly get a bit annoying).
2. Shinier and Shiner Swords- This isn’t a complaint that’s unique to God of War, but to me it does seem pretty pronounced here; while you do get some pretty sweet weapons throughout the course of the game, and they are definitely fun for the first ten minutes or so after they show up, the weapons you have at the start are the ones I used pretty much consistently throughout the whole thing. Sure, there are times when different ones are either necessary or just more efficient, but once you’ve spent so much time on one set of sharp pointy things, there’s really just not much of a reason to switch them out unless you have to. So, while the upgrade system was neat and all, I (like many others, I’m sure) basically just ended up dumping all of my orbs into the Blades of Chaos until they were as good as they could get, and then remembering that I also had other weapons. I mean, they’re blades permanently chained to his arms. Should there even BE other weapons? I think it’s debatable.
3. I Get It, You Loved Your Wife- I joked about it in the introduction, but in all seriousness, Kratos actually is a pretty interesting character, and behind all the blood and boobs, there is a cool story to the series. I’ve got to say, though… the sequence at the end where you have to hug your wife while you’re being attacked by a billion clones of yourself? I could have done without that. And when I say I could have done without that, what I really mean is ARGHRGHADHGAHGUIKRR.
4. Look At The Size Of That Thing- One of the things that really sticks out for me about God of War is the sense of scale you feel when fighting bosses. I wish I’d played the game when it first came out, because I bet it was even more impressive and striking when it wasn’t quite as commonplace as it’s become with more recent games, but even now, it’s pretty damn awesome to walk into a fight with something many, many, MANY times your size and walk out with one of its bleeding appendages as a trophy. The scale is a huge part of what makes you feel like a badass in God of War, and feeling like a badass is what the game is all about. Well, that and boobs. Speaking of which…
5. That’s What She Said– It would be easy to have a knee-jerk reaction to the female characters in God of War, and I’m sure that many people have. I’m sure many have also had a something-else-jerk reaction to them, as well. (*rimshot* Thank you, I’ll be here all week.) While the nudity is admittedly pretty gratuitous, though, there’s actually more to the female cast of GoW, such as they are, than T&A. The Oracle of Athens is the one who tells Kratos how to defeat Ares, Athena literally has the power to make him into a god, and the girls he bangs at the beginning of the game…. well okay, they are just T&A. I played that minigame real good, too. Even Kratos’s wife, much as I may resent her for making me hug her, and even though she doesn’t have a very direct role during the actual events of the game, is incredibly important, because it’s her death (at his hands) that sets off his slicey-bleedy rampage, so without her, there wouldn’t even be a God of War. It’s really interesting (well, to me at least, and this is my goddam column) to ponder how the effect of the ladies here might have been different if they weren’t so hyper-sexualized. I’m not saying it would have been better or worse, necessarily, but I definitely think it would have changed things up.
It’s been a while since I’ve done a JRPG, hasn’t it? I’ll rectify that next time with Lunar: Silver Star Harmony.