Monday, January 9, 2012

Top 50 Video Games: Number 20

Platform: Playstation 2
Absurdly Specific Genre: Stress-Relief by way of Deicide
Difficulty: Certain part were pretty hard, but most of the time a little persistence made it all work out pretty quickly. 6.
Beaten: Yes.

The appeal to the God of War series isn't hard to quantify. Its hacking and slashing is seamless, the controls are beautiful, the setting is epic (in every sense of the word), and the soundtracks have some of the best orchestral music ever featured in a video game. That's easy enough. All of that was featured in the first game. How do you top that?

Staging a fight against the Colossus of Rhodes is as good a starting point as any.
God of War 2 answered the question with better puzzles, more interesting locales, a more involved storyline, better graphics, more combos... and more. Killing every manner of mythological beasty never gets old. Swinging around the blades never gets tiring (after a while, you don't even wonder about the logistics of having boomerang blades permanently soldered to your arms). The game's mostly humorless atmosphere can be a downer, but there are bits of black humor that pop up occasionally.

It's an interesting thing for a game to give you no character with which to identify. The God of War series gives you Kratos as a protagonist. He's a reprehensible individual who at best comes off as "massive jerk" and at worst "completely psychotic bloodlust-filled mass murderer". The game forces you to inhabit this individual, and then has you not only watch him do all these bizarrely awful things, but actively forces you to do them yourself, by proxy (I only have to point to the puzzle which forces you to place a cage containing a live soldier over a device which immolates the soldier... this opens a door. You're not looking for a way to solve the puzzle without murdering a random dude, you're looking for a way to murder him in the quickest way possible).

Spoiler: The dude on the left is crazy, and the dude on the right is about to die.
How does a game like that have so much sway? If it were simply a matter of "do combos, kill stuff", I wouldn't have it as my 20th favorite game. Sure, the graphics were (for the time) beautiful, and the gameplay was relentlessly awesome, but at some point, I actually did buy into the revenge plot. Those gods done me wrong, and I'm going to kill them dead, even if I have to destroy the entire world to do it. It takes some narrative 'oomph' to get a player to do that in a normal game. To do that in a game where the protagonist is an insane murderer is a feat almost unmatched in the gaming world.

Other Notable Games in the God of War Series: Well, I loved the first one, and had this one not existed, it would've played out around 30th on this list (to answer Beau's question, yeah... I'm not including any games in the series more than once). I didn't have the problem with the spinning Hades blades like everyone else seemed to, I think they made me fall to the bottom maybe twice? An annoyance, but nothing like other people said.


  1. I finally played this around six months ago. Dude, I didn't even know about the spinning Hades Blades problem. I had no problem with it.

    I too wonder how the game gets away with having such a ruthless, horrible protagonist. It's pretty amazing. Other than that, the only thing I can say against it is that Kratos's voice acting is a little hammy.

    I'm playing GOW III now, but I'm playing a lot of things, so I don't know if "now" is the word since it's been a few weeks.

  2. Yeah, people hated the Hades section. I sort of disliked it because there weren't as many interesting things to do there, but certainly not because of any spinning blades.

    How is GOW III? I hear good things about it, but... you know my relationship with the PS3. My wife said she very nearly bought me one for Christmas, but figured I'd get more use out of a computer monitor. Can't say she's entirely wrong, and it's a sweet monitor, but...