God of War (PlayStation 2) review
" There are two things that are good about this game. Sadly, they are the two things that are good about every ďgoodĒ game. Usually, these two things make up the bulk a review but I didnít write this review intending to tell you that this is a fun game and is looks good, blah, blah, woof, woof. In the grander scheme of video-game things, God of War is a big failure. It makes all the same mistakes concerning content that every other high-ranked game does. Itís offensive, itís hyper-masculine, it m..."
There are two things that are good about this game. Sadly, they are the two things that are good about every ďgoodĒ game. Usually, these two things make up the bulk a review but I didnít write this review intending to tell you that this is a fun game and is looks good, blah, blah, woof, woof. In the grander scheme of video-game things, God of War is a big failure. It makes all the same mistakes concerning content that every other high-ranked game does. Itís offensive, itís hyper-masculine, it makes me yawn. But, weíll get to those finer points after we cover the two things that everybody knows.
The game is very pretty. Even outside the cut scenes, things look real enough to immerse you in a city at war. Collapsing buildings, screaming non-combatants, routed soldiers, and corpses strewn like scenery all come together to create an anarchic picture of war. The cameraís route is carefully mapped out in a dramatic, cinematic way that reveals the games little details; a routine ladder climb becomes cinematic flair when a corpse-covered rafter interposes itself between the camera and Kratos. The cut scenes are also done in a grand style with immense drama and whatnot.
The gameplay is wonderful. Being swarmed by a variety of creatively-designed enemies and teaching them to respect my dual, flaming chain-swords of might and destruction with a face-melting combo is not only fun and erection-erecting good, but also pretty easy to accomplish with the control scheme. Experience collected from annihilating your foes can be spent on more ďnormalĒ sword attacks or improving one of the powers that the gods gave you: lighting bolts, a horde of undead spirits, a Cloud-esque big ass sword, etc. The only legitimate negative comment I can make about the gameplay is about the final boss fight which takes place without any of the cool upgrades you have worked so hard to get. They strip away the Blades of Chaos and give you a lumbering, big-ass sword with maybe four or five different moves. A bizarre decision by the game makers which results in a nasty pock mock on otherwise flawless gameplay.
Having said all the nice things that I can think of, I can now say that these two items canít disguise the total shit that makes up the rest of the disc. Letís compile a list, shall we? Hulking, hyper-masculine mega hero? Check. Embarrassingly transparent name that reveals obsession with ass-kicking? Check. Ridiculously high drama with invocation of Greek gods and their powers in an improbable and visually impressive manner? Check. Enough pixilated titties to render obsolete all the strip clubs in Detroit? We got Ďem. Seriously, people, am I the only one who is sick of these sophomoric jaunts through male fantasyland? Kratos is hardly a character. Heís a one-dimensional ass-kicker that never varies from his simple-minded psyche. He is Duke Nukem without a sense of humor, Turok with a semi-sophisticated Greek faÁade.
Surrounding this non-character is some overblown Greek soap opera that is so steeped in its own tragedy that itís embarrassing to play in front of others. A mighty warlord sells his own soul for greater and greater power until eventually it consumes him and he destroys the one thing he loves (of course), his wife. All this followed by a tale of super-bloody revenge on a gigantic scale. I give a sincere salute to the makers for pulling out all the stops in their creation of an epic drama. Too bad the audience for epic drama is either 2000 years dead or trapped in an ill-lit basement worshipping its pixilated gods. Watch a bad Hollywood movie and look at the previews; epic thriller this and epic thriller that. Epic means gigantic, overblown production because whoever was in charge has too much testosterone or too little sophistication to try something else. Drama and literature have come a long way since the epic was considered cool, anyone who dares to disagree can try reading a book written in the last 500 years and get back to me.
And just how offensive do games have to get before somebody says itís really not that cool anymore? Iím alright with the violence but itís embarrassingly macho for Kratos to physically rip his opponents in half with his bare hands. I donít care if this game gives concerned parent groups heart attacks, but for Christ's sake, whatís the point? Are we supposed to realize that Kratos is powerful? As if his rippling muscle, gravelly voice and incessant grunts of exertion werenít clue enough. His name means power in Greek; we fucking get it, OK?
And if this WWF figure in meager disguise doesnít make women laugh out loud with his never ending machismo, they are plenty of other obstacles to make sure you can never play this game in the company of females. How about a sex mini-game in the first half hour of play? Thatís what women want to see, some burly soldier type bad talk two naked women in his bed and then mount and screw them at your triangle and square tapping command. And possibly even more offensive, every human female you meet is bare-breasted or covered mockingly by a transparent veil. It would seem that the developers realized itís hard to take a goddess seriously if sheís dressed like a Girl-Gone-Wild. Anything else with a vagina, however, SOL. Itís like they wanted to emphasize the fact that the game is supposed to offend women.
The final word? Despite the frustratingly bad everything else, the game parts are still good. Intuitive controls, well balanced gameplay, immersive atmosphere. The game is mechanically near-perfect. There are even some creative things done in terms of enemies and displaying Kratosís power. However, everything past that point is stupid and offensively over-used. God of War suffers from the many problems that are endemic to games: an obsession with big power, big graphics, big boobs and other alienating bits of offensiveness. When I play, I make up my own plot and try to look at the womenís faces. Itís not likely you will regret playing this game, especially if you are a white, 18-35 year old male, but youíll probably forget it in a couple years.
Community review by gladiator_x (July 06, 2006)
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