Thursday, July 14, 2005

You Won't Believe the Brutality

God of War

This game generated a lot of good buzz on various game blogs so I was really looking forward to it. Unfortunately it's taken months to be released here, which annoys me a bit. I thought with games becoming bigger and bigger business over the last few years the market would be getting big games like this over here faster than it used to. But I guess it'll take a while longer before games get over here as fast as music or books. I'm just hoping that Katamari Damancy gets over here eventually. A lot of quirky games like that don't get released here at all.

Anyway, God of War turned out to be well worth the wait. It uses the same engine as Devil May Cry so like that game it's fundamentally an updated version of Golden Axe, where the gameplay mainly consists of running around smashing the shit out of zombies. While Devil May Cry 2 (which has been moved into the 'a bunch of shit I'll never finish' category over in the sidebar) made this gameplay mechanic into a tedious button mashing fest, God of War is just a hell of a lot of fun to play. The most obvious reason for this is the main character's fighting technique. Devil May Cry is all about the character Dante's graceful stylish moves, but God of War's protagonist Kratos, is a brutal thug in comparison. His weapons are a pair of blades attached to his arms by extendable chains, which provide for a wide variety of improbable but cool moves. It's incredible fun to turn Kratos into a death dealing whirlwind with enemies being thrown out in all directions. The combos and special moves are even cooler, some of the most memorable involve shoving your weapon down a minotaur's throat, and ripping the wings off of a harpy while planting your foot firmly on it's torso.

The real reason this game is so good though is the level design. The story takes place in ancient Greece, a setting that is suprisingly underutilised in computer games. This provides a huge number of cool enemies to fight, and plenty of neat plot devices. The locations are varied and interesting, and although they don't deviate from the standard action game settings (yes of course, there's a level set in the sewers of Athens), they're presented originally through the mythological theme. The most impressive location is the Temple of Pandora level, a huge dungeon that is carried on the back of the titan Cronos as he wanders eternally through the desert. The puzzles are both original and neither too hard nor too easy, and the locations are varied and interesting, even within the standard dungeon setting.

There are a few other things that should be mentioned, the plot, while not brilliant (you know you can't take the story too seriously once you fight the giant cyborg minotaur (whose appearance is still an awesome 'holy shit' moment)), is a little deeper than most console games. Kratos is a true anti-hero, a tortured soul with a brutal, evil past, now looking for forgiveness from the gods. The twists and turns of the plot are nothing completely unpredictable, but at least they're there and they're pulled off competantly with, gasp, decent voice acting. Lastly there's a clever gameplay mechanic where you can pull off special moves on wounded enemies by pushing the buttons you're prompted to by icons appearing over the enemies heads, it's not super original but it adds another element to the already frenetic battles.

There's really nothing to fault about this game, it even comes with a whole load of 'making of' videos, which reveal there's a sequel in the works. It's been a while since I played a new game I enjoyed this much so I'll be looking forward to it.

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