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March 25, 2013

Let’s “discuss” God of War: Ascension.

Hey, have you ever heard of that game Mystic Heroes?

It’s an old GameCube (and PS2) title by the guys who did the Dynasty Warriors series.  And it shows; aesthetic differences aside, the goal -- as always -- is to make your way across the map, beating down as many undead soldiers, monsters, and generals as you can.  To the game’s credit, its greatest strength is the addition of magic that helps break up the monotony of mashing the attack button.  Press the Y button, and fire off, say, some lightning bolts.  Hold it down, and you can target enemies with lock-on magic.  Hit X, and you’ll be able to spice up your physical attack with magic -- and a chance to cause a status effect that’s dependent on the attack’s element (wind confuses, lightning slows, fire burns, ice freezes).  Couple that with some RPG mechanics and plenty of magic types to seek out and equip, and you’ve got yourself a handy-dandy little game.

Is it perfect?  No, of course not.  And it’s definitely started showing its age.  And that voice acting is something else, to the point where I wouldn’t even call it voice acting.  But I still like it; part of it’s in a sort of sympathetic “aw, bless your heart” capacity, as you’d expect.  But part of it is because I’m genuinely having fun with the game.  I’m planning on playing through it some more as soon as I’m able (and maybe doing a little post on it somewhere down the line).

It doesn’t bode well for God of War: Ascension when I realized I'd rather play a decade-old game instead.


Let me back up by saying this: if you’re expecting a lengthy, multi-part Let’s Discuss post, don’t.  This is going to be a short post -- relatively speaking -- to report my findings (a la the Call of Duty post from a little while back).  And as it stands, I’m content with leaving it at that.  I couldn’t bring myself to play the game for more than an hour, so I don’t think it’d be appropriate to get in deep with the title.  And…well, I don’t really want to.  I’m still riding off the high of Metal Gear Rising, and I know that any complaints I make will be in relation to that. 

But the reason that this is all you’ll get on GoW:A is because I’m biased.  I’ll willingly admit that I’m biased.  I’ve never put much stock into the franchise; I didn’t care much for Kratos, I didn’t care much for the gameplay, and I didn’t care much for the general nastiness of the proceedings.  Even so, I was willing to let it ride.  Based on watching my brother’s playthroughs of GoW 1 and 3, I could assume that even if I didn’t care for the games, there was something there to warrant merit and a healthy fandom.  I could still respect the franchise and what it did, even if it wasn’t for me.  I could play other games, and the fans could play their own beloved titles.  And if I gave the franchise a deeper look, I'd find something to latch onto, and know shame for being so unfair.  No muss, no fuss.


Still, my brother -- no doubt also amped up from MGR -- was excited for Ascension, and had been for weeks.  I’d assume he enjoyed it, because he was practically begging me to try it out.  And I did…even in spite of some shaky reviews.  I had to decide for myself if the game was good.  I had to see if this was the game that would make me ashamed to hold onto my bias, and prove that I’ve been missing out on a fantastic series.

It didn’t.

I don’t know if this is a problem exclusive to Ascension or one that’s plagued the franchise, but if I had to describe my experience in one word, I would use “impotent.”  I don’t think I’ve felt so far-removed from the action in a long time; how is it that in an action game, I don’t feel like I’m doing, seeing, or feeling anything worthy of action?


Only about a fourth of Kratos’ attacks with his chain-blades feel like they have any impact.  Whether you attack with a flurry of Square attacks or pepper in the occasional Triangle attack, Kratos’ offense is so wimpy and distant that I’ve yet to feel like the God of War I’m supposed to be.  And it’s not only the impact factor that’s missing; even if you flail about there’s a chance that enemies won’t even respond to your attacks.  They’ll blow right through and go on the attack...except that their attacks feel wimpy and distant as well.  I ended up getting slapped around several times during skirmishes, but it barely registered as a threat or a problem -- just an inconvenience.  It was just like, “Oh no, I took a hit.  Oh well, back to mashing.” 

Thankfully, Triangle and Square aren’t the only moves in Kratos’ arsenal.  Circle will let you smack around enemies with physical attacks (at first), but find a weapon in the middle of the level and you can take hold of it.  You get early access to a sword, and a heavy weapon later on….but right now their usefulness is dubious in my eyes.  Kratos’ chain-blades may be impotent, but they’ve got absurd range and crowd-control ability (in theory, at least); given that, why would I ever want to pick up and use a slow, single-target club?  Why use a sword I find on the ground when I have two swords attached to my body at any given moment?  I suppose those on-field weapons might be super-effective against certain enemies, but if I were to upgrade my chain-blades -- and imbue them with elemental powers, as I hear you can do later on -- then what’s the purpose of those other weapons?  Especially if they, too, fail to leave a lasting impact?


If MGR’s defining mechanic was Blade Mode, then I’d argue that Ascension’s defining mechanic is its…well, I don’t know what it’s called, but we’ll call it the bully-grapple for now.  Hit the R1 button, and you’ll wrap a chain around an opponent.  Hold it down, and you can tug an enemy around like a dog on a leash.  Hit Square and you’ll start slashing with your other chain, whether it’s smacking your unruly pet or striking other foes.  Go for a Triangle attack, and you’ll slam the baddie down.  Or you can just fling them around.  Admittedly it’s a mechanic with potential, and from what I’ve gathered it’s got lots of monster-specific actions (like Nero’s Devil Bringer from Devil May Cry 4), but I can’t help but feel like it’s an I-Win-Button against the common enemy.  Would someone like to explain to me how it’s fair that I can jump into the air and bully-grapple a bug, hoist it up, and spike it like a football at other enemies so it explodes and takes others with it -- and on a nigh-infinite loop, no less?  Why would I ever want to use my strike attacks when I can bully-grapple an enemy and bounce them off the ground, then bully-grapple again to slam them back down?  Why can I use this attack virtually without limit or impunity? 

I’m convinced that combat culminates with using some kind of finishing move on whatever you’re fighting.  Wailing on opponents may ultimately win you a fight, but the only way to know for sure that you’ve got an enemy down is to keep smacking them until the “GRAB THEM, YOU FOOL!” icon pops up over their heads and you can bully-grapple them into oblivion splatters of Jell-O.  This is arguably where most of the impact comes from (though even then it’s pretty lousy), but the problem is that you often won’t be doing it on just one enemy.  You’ll be doing it against several of the same enemy type, and in rapid succession.  So if you thought that it was cool to rip an enemy in half the first time, you’re in luck; you get to do it another eight times.  And immediately after some impromptu brain surgery on an elephant-man, you get to do the exact same animation against another one.  These bloody finishers wouldn’t be so bad if they were punchy and impactful (MGR had its fair share of them, after all), but they’re so drawn-out and wimpy that what should be a visceral moment that makes me cringe just turns into an overlong display of underwhelming gore.  It certainly doesn't help that the sound effects don't always play when something or someone gets wrecked.


Nowhere is this lack of oomph more obvious than in the boss fights.  The first fight is against a parasitic creature born from the hand of a multi-armed giant…and based on that encounter, I’m assuming that the rest are an absolute chore.   You wail away at an enemy until you can trigger a quick-time event via the GRAB THEM, YOU FOOL! icon.  And I mean wail away; without an HP bar to look at, I wasn’t even sure I was damaging the boss…hell, I wasn’t even sure I was hitting him half the time, because he barely reacted to my attacks (if at all).  He’d try to stab me with one of his arm spikes, but that attack is easy enough to dodge, as is his sweep across the arena. 

Though it’s worth noting that during this sequence, the arena is NOT conducive to a boss fight.  It’s a thin platform whose camera perspective makes it look like a 2D stage, and it’s regularly tilting to shift the battlefield around a bit (you are fighting on the body of a giant, after all).  The problem is that, while Kratos has a dodge roll to avoid attacks, unless you’re in the right spot he’ll dodge roll into one of the pits in the area -- and because of the tilting arena and Kratos’ wimpy double jump, it’s a struggle to get out of that pit if you fall in.  Still, it’s not a remotely-difficult boss; whether or not that’s just because it’s the first level is hard to say, but hopefully it doesn’t subscribe to DmC’s school of thought where bosses will take a swing at you and then leave themselves wide open for your offense.

I know I rag on (and on, and on, and on) DmC, but there is a good side to it.  It’s the same side that plenty of other action games -- even Mystic Heroes -- has down…and one that Ascension doesn’t.  The action should be clear at virtually all times, so that you can react and respond to anything that comes your way.


This is the biggest problem with Ascension, both from what I’ve heard and from my own experiences: in what should be an action game that focuses on and celebrates the action, it’s a game that focuses on and celebrates DEM GRAFFECS and DAT BUDJIT.  Yes, the areas look pretty enough, and they’re certainly intricate, and emphasize the scale, but good God, game!  Why in the hell would you zoom out so that Kratos looks like a white bean?  Worse yet, why would you make it so that the action is ten times harder to follow?  There’s a sequence where Kratos is fighting in a room that’s being carted around in the hands of a giant; not only is the fight against hordes of monsters taking place in about a quarter of the screen’s space, but it’s all taking place in a heavily-shadowed area so that Kratos and the monsters are even harder to see.  The only saving grace is that Kratos’ chain-blades come with a glowy effect, so the best way to see where he is (relatively speaking) is to start swinging…but the problem is that it only further encourages button-mashing instead of strategic combat.  It certainly doesn’t help that you can pretty much ignore successful monster attacks during this sequence; sure, Kratos can block, but why would you want to?  So you could lose him in the chaos?  So you can let enemies swarm you?  So the sequence can last even longer?

I shouldn’t have to fight the game as much as I do, but here we are.  I died the most not during combat, but a sequence where Kratos has to climb up a shaft quickly or get ground up by ascending gears.  And when I say quickly, I mean quickly…it’s just a shame that Kratos climbs at such a plodding pace, and when he has to jump from one ledge to another he loses a huge amount of time and gets turned into Jell-O.   But the moment where I got seriously pissed at the game was during the first level’s “real” boss fight, where you go up against the giant’s infected head.  The camear’s way-zoomed out and the arean you’re fighting in keeps bobbing around, so that’s an automatic strike against it.  You’re absolutely swamped by enemies while tendrils start popping up around the arena -- tendrils that the game VERY VERY SUBTLY suggests you’re supposed to attack if you want to win.  The obvious battle strategy is to take down the weaker enemies so you can focus your full efforts on those tendrils, right? 


Wrong.  Try to clear out some foes, and you won’t have enough time to take out those tendrils, and the giant will just eat you and bring up the game over screen…in spite of there being no indication that he was going to eat you against the clutter and motion all over the screen.  No, the correct strategy is to ignore the enemies and wail away at a tendril you’re not even sure you’re hitting, resuming your efforts even as the minions knock you about.  And then if you succeed in doing that, you have to fight the hand-parasite again -- and you’ve already fought it again, mind -- with only a slight change in its attack pattern.  You finish the whole fight with a quick-time event (naturally), and go on your merry way…after stabbing one of the Furies and springing almost immediately into a flashback.

Soooooooooooo…yeah.  The gameplay?  In my eyes, it’s terrible.  The fact that I would rather play more Mystic Heroes than a triple-A title with a dozen times the budget and (supposedly) a decade’s worth of knowledge gained in game design should tell you everything you need to know.  But I could be biased.

Now.  How about that story?


I’ve heard some bad things about the story -- that it’s terrible, pointless, and a step back for the franchise -- but I would assume that all those judgments have been made after those speaking finished the game.  So I can’t fully comment on whether or not the story’s a boon or a bust.  I will say this, though: I don’t know everything about the GoW canon, but I would assume that Kratos peaked as a character at the end of the first game.  IIRC, after getting jerked around by the gods, slaughtering his own family, going on a war path, and outright attempting suicide, Kratos’ story could have -- and maybe should have -- ended right there.  But it didn’t, because there was money to be made.  Everything after that should contribute to our understanding and development of this character, and answering questions about where he’ll go from here; how satisfactorily the sequels handled that is beyond me (I have my doubts, though, seeing as how Kratos ruins the planet), but I’m willing to prematurely call Ascension a step backwards.

If what I read about the game from previews is right, the idea was to make Kratos a more human character.  The developers wanted to dial back his madness and rage (i.e. the things he’s most notable for) and show the man rather than the god.  That immediately raised a red flag in my eyes, considering that A) this was a man who tore off the head of Crispin Freeman the sun god Helios and used it like a lantern, and B) trying to set up this new game as a prequel does little to humanize a man who becomes a monster in the present, not the past.  If you read my posts on Devil Survivor 2, you may know what I’m getting at here: too many developers, rather than exploring the consequences of the characters’ actions and how the world will be rebuilt, choose to turn back time and reset the character rather than move him forward.  Rather than show the world created by God of War 3’s events, we get a prequel that tries to improve Kratos’ image.  Rather than show the reconstruction of Sera following Gears of War 3, we get a prequel that has perpetual sarcasm engine Baird living through battles that have already been fought.  From what I’ve heard, Crysis 2 ends with New York being on the way to recovery after an enemy assault, and Crysis 3 STARTS with New York being hit by an enemy assault.  I know conflict is supposed to drive the plot, but there has to be a better way to handle it than just hitting the reset button so we travel back to a period where the player is more likely to mow down goons.  (Though to Gears' credit, a prequel means that they get to bring back Dom.)


Well, whatever.  What does Ascension bring to the table, at least in its first hour?  Surely there’s something of merit, right?  Setup of things to come, revelations to be had, and insight to be gained?  Ehhhhhhhhhh…it’s entirely possible that the things I’m looking for are tucked away in the later parts of the game.  But given my experiences in the first hour, I doubt it.

Kratos has apparently been taking acting lessons from Master Chief, because much like the Spartan soldier -- and I’m more than a little pissed that I can make that allusion -- Kratos has serious issues reacting to things.  Like, anything.  Sure, he’ll reel if he gets smacked (in cutscenes, naturally), and he’ll roar a bit when he’s on the attack, but if the intent was to make him more human there’s none of that happening immediately.  Again, that could be stuff tucked away for later, but thus far I have no reason to believe any effort’s been put in besides putting him in chains.  “Look, look!” the developers seem to screech as the plaster simian grins across their faces.  “Kratos is suffering!  See?  HE’S HUMAN NOW!  Just go ahead and ignore everything he's going to do afterwards, because he has a REALLY good excuse!”


And when you start paying attention to what’s on display, the holes start becoming readily apparent.  For example, why would the Furies decide to wrap Kratos in the one thing he’s famous for, and then making it possible for him to escape by slapping him out of his restraints?  When Kratos escapes from his bindings, why does the Fury bother trying to mess with him?  Why doesn’t she get the hell out of there, knowing what Ares’ finest soldier can and will do?  Did the developers seriously expect us to take this game seriously when there’s an extreme close-up on a Fury’s half-exposed breasts as bugs start crawling out of them?  Why is there a prison on a hundred-armed giant?  Or is it on a hundred-armed giant?  Where is Kratos, exactly?  I get that the Furies have to torture those who break an oath to the gods, but why would it have to be in that specific location?  Actually, why would the Furies punish the traitors?  Is betrayal something that the gods even care about, and if they did, why couldn’t they just handle the punishment themselves, given that they’re presumably powerful enough and omnipresent?  Can gods intervene and save someone from torture as part of their grand design or scheme to screw with the other gods, as if the traitor’s out on bail?  I’m only asking because IIRC Athena stops Kratos’ suicide attempt at the end of the first game so he can take over as the new god of war, so maybe that’s how Ascension fits into the canon…? 

You know, I think wondering more about the mechanics of this universe and the gods therein are more interesting than the character himself (another trait shared by Halo and Master Chief).  In a bit of riveting gameplay, Kratos gets to walk down a hallway very slowly, and lurches past some people in cages who either cry out praises or express their fear and mistrust.  Kratos’ response?  Nothing.  He doesn’t even recognize that they’re there.  Granted that could be because he’s fresh off of getting tortured (though he’s in remarkably good shape and condition if that’s the case), but he doesn’t even look at these people.  Is that what a normal human would do, guys?  Is it the best idea to make the lead character almost mute in the first hour of the game?


To be fair, silence isn’t automatically a deal-breaker for a character.  Like I’ve said before, body language goes a long way toward communicating ideas, feelings, and a state of mind.  Given that, it’s entirely possible that Kratos’ motions speak louder than his words (and adds a bit of color to his emotional palette, given that his actions are “stab”, “slash”, and “stab harder”).  Thus far, they haven’t.  He’s designed to be a killing machine, if not in-game -- and it’s certainly in game -- then in the minds of gamers everywhere.  Counteracting that takes an extreme amount of effort, and seeing that immediately, or even briefly, is preferable.  There isn’t.  Granted it helps keep the focus on gameplay instead of overwrought cutscenes, but when the first image we see of Kratos is the same scowling face from the opening of God of War 1 -- this time without dialogue -- you’ll forgive me if I suspect there’s been a step backward.

Nowhere is Kratos’ lack of reaction more jarring than the obligatory “oh look, there are sexy ladies in this game” sequence.  I’ve always found this more than a little ill-fitting, considering that Kratos is having wild times with random women in spite of the fact that his wife was taken from him by his own blind rage…and now that Ascension takes place just a little while after the death of Kratos’ wife, he has absolutely no reason to associate himself with women, especially after he’s just gotten done with torture.  In fact, he should be outright reviled by the bevy of beauties surrounding him as he’s exploring the prison -- yet as they start swarming him, he doesn’t show a single reaction.  To be fair, the women that have appeared before him were an illusion, which would explain why they weren’t immediately gagging as they got a whiff of his ash- and cadaver-crusted body…but Kratos doesn’t do anything.  Why?  In fact, he’s just about to do some vase-shaking and only stops when he realizes the Fury is screwing with him.  Sure, she had him by the hand, but he could have told her off.  He could have tugged his hand free. But he doesn’t.  What about your dead wife, Kratos?  What about your daughter, Kratos?  Is this what they’d want?  Is this the best time to start tossing your javelin?  Is this even going to make you happy?


It should go without saying by now, but I don’t understand this game.  What is the purpose of launching into a flashback of how Kratos got to that prison when I’m A) more interested in seeing how he’ll get out of it, and B) there’s absolutely no reason for there to be a flashback, given that “how he got there” is almost entirely irrelevant?  Am I supposed to know who this man covered in licorice and glowy bits is supposed to be?  Why does Kratos need this guy to tell him where to go?  If his problem is one dealing with the gods, wouldn’t an appeal to another god -- and an enemy of said god, no less, making her a potential ally -- be at the top of his list?  In the grand scheme of things, why is God of War: Ascension a story that needed to be told and a game that needed to be made, if not for showing off the power of a big budget and the PS3’s horsepower?

Oh wait, I know the answer to that one: multiplayer!  


But screw that noise.

Like I said, I’ve never put much stock into the franchise.  But you know what?  Just because I’m not doesn’t mean that I’m by default not allowed to enjoy the game ever, especially if each new game can build on the last.  This was their big chance to make me a loyal follower of the canon, to grab me by the collar and growl at me until I fell to my knees and bought more of their games in submission.  But they didn’t.  They couldn’t.  I couldn’t even find the drive to get past the first hour of the game, let alone the rest; how do they expect me to care and be thrilled when there’s so little to latch on to?

 I’m going to go ahead and assume that by the time you finish reading this sentence, the game will have sold fifteen million copies.  If that’s the case -- and the fact that Kratos is one of Sony’s few true mascots, if PlayStation All-Stars is to be believed -- then we’re going to be seeing more of this franchise in the next console cycle.  If so, then fine.  If the Ghost of Sparta has a dedicated fanbase, fine.  Let it be known that I’m not one of them.  And the way things are looking, I never will be.

You guys can keep your God of War.  I’ll keep my bias -- and keep on playing Mystic Heroes.



Emperor Kang's not gonna beat himself, you know.


15 comments:

  1. Cheap Boss AttackMarch 25, 2013 at 1:14 PM

    The gameplay of GOW was something fresh when it released back on the PS2 but I had enough after the 2nd entry to never really crave another in the series.. well.. ever, really. I still have yet to beat GOW3 after multiple attempts to "psych myself up", so to say, and just wasn't excited at all about Ascension. Even with the multiplayer, I'd rather go back to my Dreamcast and play Powerstone 2. P.S. Mystic Heroes was good fun.

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  2. Oh my God, you mean someone else actually remembers that game? And here I was, thinking that I was one of only five people who played it. (Side note: that voice acting is -- and has always been -- something else.)



    But back on topic. Honestly, I feel kind of bad about hating Ascension, and turning a cold shoulder on the series as a whole. I've only touched the first level of the first and latest game, and never bothered with the others (I just watched my brother play through the third game). So maybe it's one of those "it gets better" deals...except if you're not having fun, being entertained, or finding some intrigue at the start of the game, is there really a point in going any further?


    Ah, one of gaming's great mysteries. But whatever; I'm under the impression that GoW is a divisive series, and if it's not for me -- or us, as it turns out -- then I guess it's not for us. No point trying to force myself into doing anything else, I suppose.

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  3. Cheap Boss AttackMarch 25, 2013 at 9:15 PM

    The gameplay won me over, really, much like the original Devil May Cry. The more I paid attention to the plot, the less interested I was as a whole. I still think the first two are fun games (enough to re-play them both in the HD collection, at least) but it's not really a series that I salivate over when they mention a sequel. Assassin's Creed is becoming that way now as well, and not because they're bad games.. they just seem to come out at such a fast pace that I can't always get to them with such a hefty back catalog.

    I think once you've gamed for so many years, it takes a lot for a game to catch your interest since you've "seen it all", so to speak. It's hard for games to remain interesting or break new ground anymore and I get hypocritical about it sometimes - criticizing a sequel because it's the same ol' same ol' and then doing the same thing to another sequel because it's different from what I've come to expect from a series.

    "except if you're not having fun, being entertained, or finding some
    intrigue at the start of the game, is there really a point in going any
    further?"


    As for that, I'm right there with you. I don't have unlimited free time so I really need to be drawn in to what I'm playing almost immediately or I start to look for something else. This is probably why I still haven't finished Skyward Sword.

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  4. It is a little scary how many Assassin's Creed games there are now. I find it hilarious that as soon as people start saying "The naval combat in AC3 is awesome! It could be its own game!" we end up hearing about this new game where you play as a pirate. And supposedly, some new Vita game that's in the works. And supposedly the dev team for the next game numbers in the six to seven hundreds, IIRC.


    That point really gets me worried. A huge team didn't work for Resident Evil 6, and I'm afraid it won't work now.


    But that aside, I guess it is important for a game to have a hook ASAP; that's been true of games in the past, I'd wager, and no doubt that's an issue nowadays. First impressions and all that, you know?

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  5. As long as the Vita spinoffs don't bleed in to the console releases, I'm good. I don't like when I have to play all of these things on various consoles just to keep up with it (like Kingdom Hearts, for example). I guess I could wiki the plot and pretend. It's fun to pretend.

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  6. I hear that. *imagines flying into the night via lightning-shooting mech*

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  7. And the plague known as sequelitis continues to ravage the entertainment industry. *cough* I meant, "sequel-desquised-as-a-prequel-to-pay-for-next-Friday's-pizza-dinner-itis" I am not shocked at all that most reviewers I respect turned their noses at this game. All I needed to know about GOW is that the first game should have been left as it is, no sequels. Once that did not happen, well, I knew I was not first in line to be open-minded.

    It should be a crime for any game to have a.) terrible camera angles, b.) fixed, badly positioned camera shots, c.) the playable character the size of a thumbnail on the screen, or d.) all of the above. Just one look at that one "epic" fight with the background chewing into the scenery and I was turned off immediately. And they say Sonic is crippled by bad camera angles!

    Humanizing a raving, angry god of destruction? *throws hands up in the air* And consumers are still buying this stuff. *crawls back under beloved rock*

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  8. To be fair, IIRC the original God of War teased a sequel from the get-go. So it's likely that the first three games were, for the most part, all pieces of some grand design. A narrative structure, even if it was one that I didn't agree with.

    The same can't be said for Ascension. From what I've heard, it adds nothing to the canon that fans didn't already know or could intuit. And while there MIGHT be a chance that there is some hidden depth to Kratos and that he finds his redemption, I seriously doubt it. A character that essentially ruins the earth can't be redeemed or justified without some extreme savvy -- and even then, this "redemptive" arc doesn't excuse Kratos from being an asshole in the future. It's like they have no idea who this character is...and unfortunately, gamers do.



    Just for fun I might boot up GoW1 and see how it runs as a point of comparison. I'd like to see for myself if the original game has better camera work (and combat by extension), if only to find some hope for this franchise before I swear it off. If I do, that'd be great. If I don't, then that just means more time for playing Metal Gear Rising.


    Jeez. Between Ascension and DmC, I'm starting to wonder if western developers should just lay off the action genre. They're really not very good at it...but you didn't hear that from me. Winkety-wink-wink.

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  9. Seeing the game where Kratos rebuilds the world after smashing it to bits in GoW 3 WOULD have been an excellent idea and would have brought out his humanity better than Ascension would.

    I mean, Ascension deals with Kratos as Ares' thug, right? Well what happens if Kratos suddenly has to wrest control from the Titans who are taking advantage of the disaster set loose upon the world, with Aphrodite as his Athena 'mentor' substitute?

    What if suddenly, the game dealt with Kratos as the man responsible for saving human lives and the need for him to protect the little people instead of say, biting into their hearts for blood orbs? What if he achieved some (but not complete) absolution for saving the world?

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  10. "Seeing the game where Kratos rebuilds the world after smashing it to bits in GoW 3 WOULD have been an excellent idea and would have brought out his humanity better than Ascension would."

    YES. THIS. I know I've made my distaste (sure, let's call it that) for the onslaught of ruin and grit pretty obvious by now, but I wouldn't mind it as much of people would go a step further than just making a desolate backdrop for the action. It's a concept that'd take some thought, but one that's more than possible...and if they wanted to humanize and redeem Kratos, THAT would have been a great way to do it.

    I guess there's no sense in worrying about it too much now (though it still ticks me off). I can't say that I know just what Kratos' role and arc might be in Ascension, but if the opening and talk in reviews are anything to go by, lowering my expectations is a smart move. There's always a chance, but considering that God of War 3 ALSO tried to redeem and humanize Kratos (IIRC, via a new character named Pandora to interact with), then I'd say that it's time to shut the book on this franchise.

    Either that, or once God of War 4 inevitably comes out, they should start fresh. Wipe the slate clean, start with a new character, whatever it takes. Give the franchise a boot to the hind quarters -- it might do some real good.

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  11. Oh, so the hints on beating bosses is actually a staple? Fair enough. I kind of like that, but I'll admit that I was probably a little less than forgiving at that point because I was frustrated with the game. (Side note: I have actually seen Egoraptor's video, and multiple times at that; I wouldn't be able to think of myself as a gamer if I didn't!)



    But in any case, I almost feel kind of bad about not knowing what makes the franchise tick. I'm not the best at games, but I feel like I can at least try to understand what's going on "under the hood". What makes it special, what makes it tick, and things like that. But with GoW...it just doesn't click for me. And that's a shame, because I recognize that he's a key player in Sony's ranks. And again, the big cheese of PlayStation All-Stars -- though I've found that a Kratos player can be a danger to himself more than anyone else if he's not careful. (Maybe that's a subtle way of integrating the canon with gameplay elements.)

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  12. Oh yeah, they DID make a couple of PSP games, didn't they? I should probably look into those before I get too sweeping with my comments. Via YouTube, of course; there was some...misfortune with my PSP some years back. But that's a tale for another day.


    Anyway, I saw the video and...well, you were right. Narrative justice, indeed. There's still an argument to be made that Kratos loves making "hasty" decisions, but I can get a better sense of his humanity there than elsewhere. Of course that only makes me wonder even more why people say Ascension dropped the ball; you'd think that the developers would only go onward and upward from there. But on the plus side, MULTIPLAYER! (That I will probably never touch.)

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  13. Dude, fuck multiplayer. I hate playing games with other people.

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  14. I'd like to see them tackle some other mythology. The Hindus have a shitload of demons and gods and a ton of stories concerning deicide. The Vikings have been done to death, so I hope they won't go that way.


    Pandora didn't really help humanize Kratos though. She was just the straight woman in a gorror comedy. You know who did? His daughter in that PSP game. The scene where you need to push her away so you can fight the evil fucks that are trying to kill you is pretty much heartbreaking (check the following video from the 7 minute mark onward, for great narrative justice)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2r2B0aisaLk

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  15. I rented this game and I think I have the same issues with it that I did with every other God of War Game. Inconsistencies. The battles, the jumping, the bosses... they all suffer from this acute sense of randomness.

    I will disagree with you on one point. I sort of like how the game hints at how to be bosses. It reminds me of Egoraptor's explanation of why Megaman X was amazing. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8FpigqfcvlM (Warning. Roll Abuse imminent)

    God of war have these subtle little camera pans that highlight mechanics. However... it didn't mean I forgive Kratos deciding randomly that he isn't awesome enough at a specific moment to get out of situation A rather than B. I'm pretty sure I'd have just as much fun watching someone do a perfect playthrough of it, rather than play it myself. That's... bad. I'll finish it cause I like watching it / soaking in it's atmosphere. Sort of like a move where I have to press buttons every so often.

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