God of War II

a review of God of War II
a videogame developed by sony computer entertainment santa monica
and published by sony computer entertainment america
for the sony playstation 2 computer entertainment system and the sony playstation 3 computer entertainment system (as part of the god of war collection)
text by Andrew Toups

ZERO stars

Bottom line: God of War II is “like going through an entire box of q-tips in a single day.”

Oh for the love of Christ. Yes, God of War 2 has meticulously rendered backdrops, skillful, inspired art direction, sweeping, breathtaking vistas, a dramatic, cinematic score, cleverly designed stage layouts, and setpiece after memorable setpiece. No, none of this matters. At the end of the day, God of War 2, though thoroughly well-designed, well-intentioned, and near impeccably well-put together, is an abject failure of videogame. The fact that it has been a success — both critically and commercially — is simple evidence of the sorry state of the medium.

I’ll admit, I enjoyed the first God of War. A lot. It was entertaining at the time, and hey, God Hand hadn’t come out yet, so I guess I just didn’t know any better. It starts off with a compelling premise (the protagonist’s suicide, with the rest of the game playing as flashback) and from there the plot only gets juicier and more interesting. The gameplay mechanics (which are nearly identical in this game) suffered from problems which I’ll get into in a moment, but at least the game was trying. The game cared. It had vision.

By comparison, God of War 2 wants nothing more than to be a sequel. It comes off like a band who, after releasing a hit record, follows it up with another that mimics its predecessor track for track. So every memorable scene from the first game is recreated here in one way or another — you will sacrifice an Innocent Bystander for the Whims of the Gods, you will encounter many Big Names From Greek Mythology, you will traverse Large Objects of Staggering Scale — but what’s missing is writing. Frankly, the plot is shit. It’s Greek mythology fanfiction. It starts off dumb and continues to only get dumber throughout the game’s 10-odd hours. While the game has as many compelling scenes (if not more) as the original, it lacks anything resembling cohesion. The story is just a flimsy excuse for more action, and so it gets thrown out the window as a motivating factor.

But the real reason God of War 2 (and by extension, I suppose, its predecessor) is a horrible mistake from the ground up is simple. It starts with the duck roll in Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. The duck roll, if you don’t recall, is the default function of the context-sensitive action button which causes link to perform a brief forward somersault that provides a quick, oh-so-slight boost of velocity to Link’s jog. The duck roll is useless. It gives you no advantage in combat, nor are there any puzzles or setpieces that require you to use it — it barely even decreases the amount of time it takes to walk. It is entirely extraneous, yet at the same time it is essential to keeping that game from becoming monotonous. Why was the duck roll — which, bizarrely, is called “attack” on the HUD, despite not actually ever doing any damage — included in the game, then?

Well, the duck roll exists so that the player has something to do while walking through Hyrule field. It provides the same basic “fun” response as pressing A to make Mario jump does in Super Mario Bros. Take this away, and the game does not fall apart — however, suddenly the time it takes to reach the next destination seems to dramatically increase. Those dragging moments caught between objectives, trying to find the next point to move the story forward, become all the more excruciating. The game’s design, which is already pedantic, patronizing, and perverse, becomes much more transparently so. Without the opiate of the duck roll, the lie that the game is built on becomes clear.

Hypothetically, of course. Though I’d love to play a hack of Ocarina of Time with the duck roll removed, just to see.

God of War 2

What does this have to do with God of War? It’s only a minor exaggeration to say that every button press in this game triggers a duck roll. It’s an exaggeration only because every little action does have a specific in-game use — but those uses are, 95% of the time, either spoon-fed to you in ham-fisted environmental puzzle, or just entirely meaningless. For the first 25% of the game, nearly every fight can be won by mashing the square button. As more “difficult” enemies appear, nearly every fight can be won by mashing the square button and occasionally flicking the right analog stick to dodge. By the end of the game, you may have to block every now and then. Boss battles are about as involving, only interspersed with occasional Quick Timer Events and with a greater time limit between health recharges. When you die, you restart and flick the dodge stick a few more times per square button push, and bam, you’ve won. The game is constantly throwing heart stopping scenery and violent, over-the-top setpieces at you to distract you from this fact, so you never notice all this. But it’s happening.

How does this work? In any other game, such a technique would quickly grow repetitive. But God of War understands that dark secret of game design, the same one that inspired Miyamoto to let Link somersault his way across Hyrule Field. It’s in the animations; it’s in the way there’s a brief click for every single contact your blades make with the enemy, and the solid ker-uck and buzz from the dualshock that accompanies each strike. It’s in how fast Kratos runs, and the fluidity with which he performs his own duck rolls (which now have an entire analog stick devoted to them), and the way you can cancel and alter your attack combos on the fly. It’s in the way the orbs you gain by killing monsters home in on you automatically. It’s in the fact that those orbs are rendered at all when there’s no concrete need for them to. It’s in the motherfucking double-jump which serves no goddamned purpose whatsoever, and is taken for granted as something Kratos (who, very early in the game OHMYGODSPOILERWARNING, is stripped of all his godly powers) can just naturally do.

The game is clicky, crunchy, and meaty. Every little action feels good, and every little action gives you that little “fun” response that Miyamoto understood so well in designing Ocarina of Time.

On top of this, the game gives you the illusion of choice. By the end of the game you will have acquired a wide array of subweapons, abilities, alternative melee attacks, and new combos, all of which can be leveled up. During combat you have free and ready access to any of these, all of which will jerk around and beat down the hordes of mindless generic greco zombies that surround you. There is a large element of choice here, but regardless of your input, the output is always the same. There’s nothing resembling strategy here. This is Final Fantasy VII turned into an action game: at the end of the day, it’s only about overkilling your foes in new and interesting ways. That powerful new summon you find isn’t appealing because it’s powerful, but merely because it’s new — so you can see that totally sweet cutscene that plays when you use it.

To put it another way, imagine a version of Dance Dance Revolution where hardcore pornography plays in place of the usual music video, and the directional presses are largely optional and not scored on timing. If you miss enough thanks to being distracted by all that hot, wet fucking and sucking, then you die. At least this hypothetical game is a bit more honest about what it is, though really, the God of War series is essentially the same thing, but with shitloads of money thrown on top of it.

It is not entirely right of me to fault Sony Computer Entertainment Santa Monica for making this game. Surely they knew that all of the above was true, and that all of the above would make a successful game. Shame on them for indulging us, but shame on us for wanting it. Shame on us for coming to expect this sort of skullfucking as “fun”. This isn’t fun. It’s a nervous tick. It’s a bad habit. It’s obsessive compulsive behavior. It’s going through an entire box of q-tips in a day, because rubbing the inside of your ear feels so good the first time that you just can’t stop, and you eventually start to tell yourself that those little clumps of blood on the cotton are just really dark, moist bits of earwax that you’re better off without.

No. This is not what videogames are. I give God of War 2 zero stars because I do not play videogames to numb the pleasure centers of my brain. And I certainly do not pay fifty dollars for the privilege.

–Andrew Toups

Comments

73 Responses to God of War II

  1. dude:

    gears of war
    god of war

    . . .

    maybe GOD HAND would have been more popular if it would have been called “god of hand”???

  2. Weren’t they “Quick Timer Events”? Sorry to nitpick!

  3. Oh. You made a comment.

    I just said to Toups: the next review has to be God Hand.

    Someone also has to review Shenmue, then change the link in this article.

  4. I keep feeling like I should defend the game. Then I realize that you’re pretty much right, Toups. It does pull some obsessive compulsive shit on you, especially with all the unlockable crap. Most of which requires you to replay the entire game multiple times to unlock all of it.

    And what do you get when you’ve unlocked all of it? A bunch of extra costumes and game breaking “cheat” abilities to use in the same game you’ve already played through half a dozen times by now.

  5. I’d give Shenmue two stars, I think. Maybe two and a half. I’d give the second one a star and a half.

  6. Yeah, that’s about right.

    Let me guess: you’d give the second game the same score, were it not for the planks.

    Did you ever get to “disc four” — which… I guess isn’t the best way to phrase it for the Xbox version?

    The Xbox version blows in comparison to the Dreamcast one. It’s really weird what a difference it makes; the same game that looks gorgeous on the Dreamcast looks hideous on the Xbox. As inane as the Japanese dub is, the English dub makes the game that much more tedious.

    And why is the FMV recap of the first game so much more well-edited and entertaining than Shenmue: The Movie?

  7. Yeah. The planks scene is pretty unforgivable. Also, I am pretty certain it’s not meant to be “funny”.

    The “last disc” is pretty good!

    After playing RYU GA GOTOKU, I’m of the opinion that Shenmue 2 is kind of a trashy, blue-balling experience. It’s all concept. The fighting scenes in particular are pretty horrible. They had access to the Virtua Fighter engine for that shit, and they hardly used it. It all felt like a waste.

    Also: whichever version you’re playing, there’s too much loading.

    Also — and this is crucial! — the story is really, really bad. I know some people think the whole sequence with the girl is brilliant or whatever, though it just takes too long to get to it, and the character Ryo Hazuki is, simply put, a fucking rube. He’s a moron. A jackass. He’s not someone I want to be controlling.

    Lots of other good points, though. For example: ambition!

  8. Also, telephone lines. I swear, they’re my favorite part of the first game.

  9. I think the loading is excusable on the Dreamcast, because you’re always telling yourself it’s a Dreamcast game, and clearly that’s the only way the game would work on the system. It’s just one more thing that makes sense in the original context, that becomes obnoxious out of it.

  10. Well, I’m totally on board with the rage, but there are tons of games that aren’t fun without the Pavlovian clickiness/vibrations/explosions. Entire genres and formats, even – - shooters, let’s say. Doesn’t damning GOW2 damn all narrative-lite games?

    Also, that bit with the girl-chasing in Shenmue 2 was great. Would have been a hell of a beginning, but it really cratered as an ending.

  11. It’s not so much the pavlonian thing as it is that Gow2 is so deceptive about it.

    Shooters are fun because they are twitchy and clicky, yes, but they also require active thought and response to play. There’s actual substance and structure there. God of War 2 is just a bunch of pleasant mush… and yes, some shooters are mushy in the same way, and I’d reckon that those games are crap. Though, again, they’re at least honest mush.

  12. I can’t believe that people are actually agreeing with this.
    God of War 2 is good because its fun.
    It’s like an action movie. People don’t watch them for the story, they watch because they want to see some kick ass stuff and not have to think twice about it. Take 300 for example. Nobody expects some great story line, but they see it because it’s an action movie. And it did action well, therefore those who wanted to see action got just that.
    Sure, GOW2 doesn’t have the story that the first one did, but it has all of the action, and more. If you’re going into the game expecting a novel quality story, of course you’re going to be disappointed… it’s an ACTION GAME. And most action games consist of killing thousand of enemies with weapons. If you can think of another way that having to push buttons to attack, then lets hear it… reminder that this is a PS2 game and only has buttons and analog sticks. If you think it’s too easy, then up the difficulty.
    Now I haven’t played God Hand but I’m curious as to how good it is considering that the reviews were pretty average. I’ll check it out but in my book it’s hard to top GoW or Devil may Cry 3 both which I love equally.

  13. One more thing:

    Giving good games bad reviews to try and offset the mainstream media hype doesn’t make you original and only hurts your credibility.

  14. “…the duck roll exists so that the player has something to do while walking through Hyrule field. It provides the same basic “fun” response as pressing A to make Mario jump does in Super Mario Bros. Take this away, and the game does not fall apart…”

    I’m sorry, did you just say Super Mario Bros. would not be broken if Mario couldn’t jump? Can you please upload a video of you finishing the game (nay, level 1-1) without jumping? Frankly, the roll saved my ass countless times in both Zelda and GoW2.

    And now everyone’s commenting on Shenmue. Are we afraid to disagree with the author here?

    I played maybe 1/2 hour of God of War 2. I watched my girlfriend play the entire thing, and jumped in at the end when it got too difficult for her. And I enjoyed every minute of it. I’m going back to play it myself using some of the bonus features.

    The only reason I’m here is because some other sites mentioned this article. Is it coinidence that a “shocking” review of an otherwise critically acclaimed title has drawn visitors here? Would I be here if you gave the game 3 or 4 stars? Prolly not.

  15. Bojizzle, quick question. What exactly is “fun?” Is it a subjective or objective term? Is it the same for everyone?

    I really want to know.

    Also, I really don’t think that anyone paid attention to the story in the first game or they wouldn’t be saying it was good.

  16. personally, i would give the game at least one star, without having played it, because of its exceptional production values. it’s at least . . . “nearly-hollywood”, i guess. that’s worth something!

    for the record, my name is tim rogers, and i did NOT write this review right here.

  17. when i showed a friend this review, he said, “this guy sounds like he was just playing it on easy mode.”

    take that as you will!

  18. I played it on normal! I think this is a fair way to play and judge games!

    Either way, the game is hard! I died many times!

    But the challenge is simply not satisfying!

    The thing is, increasing the difficulty only makes the game MORE obnoxious! It doesn’t make the game more satisfying! It just means it takes TWICE as many q-tips to get to that precious earwax!

    That’s not good game design!

    I say this as someone who beat Gears of War on Insane! And who actually BEAT the first stage of God Hand on Hard mode (which is nearly fucking impossible unless you’re one of those freaks who can one credit ikaruga controlling both ships at once). I like a good challenge! I’m pretty good at these videogames! I’m fairly sure I could beat this game on whatever obscene difficulty level, actually!

    But why would I want to put myself through that?

    The problem with the game is, in a single sentence, that the reason it is “fun” is because it’s the exact same extremely cheap thrill repeated over and over and over. That this was what the first game already was is merely insult to injury.

    “And most action games consist of killing thousand of enemies with weapons. If you can think of another way that having to push buttons to attack, then lets hear it… reminder that this is a PS2 game and only has buttons and analog sticks. If you think it’s too easy, then up the difficulty.”

    I have no problem with killing thousands of enemies with weapons! I have no problem with pushing buttons! Buttons and analog sticks!

    Fuck! I LOVE games that let you dodge with the left analog stick. This was my favorite innovation of God of War (also, well, it’s ONLY innovation).

    It’s just, you know, there’s more to videogames than this! Or at least, there should be!

    Which is to say, yes, there is some crunch to the mechanics, now let’s have some crunch to the actual game! Let’s have at least a little depth. Let’s PLEASE for the love of god NOT artificially add depth by adding meaningless ability upon meaningless ability, each of which is just another perfectly round peg to fit into another perfectly round whole. Or a perfectly star-shaped peg to fit into another perfectly star shaped hole. Or a perfectly time-slowing-mechanic shaped peg to fit into a nother perfectly time-slowing-mechanic hole?

    I mean, why, for instance, give you to ability to upgrade your weapon when the game is set along such a linear track that your weapon’s strength will always be perfectly matched to the vitality of your enemies?

    “I’m sorry, did you just say Super Mario Bros. would not be broken if Mario couldn’t jump? Can you please upload a video of you finishing the game (nay, level 1-1) without jumping? Frankly, the roll saved my ass countless times in both Zelda and GoW2.”

    No!

    The “duck roll” in Zelda is NOT the same as jumping in SMB! Jumping actually serves a very important purpose in the game! In fact, it’s the only meaningful way you can interact with the environment! The game stretches that mechanic to its limits! It’s fully explored in interesting ways! The game has elegance and unity! Yes, jumping is fun, but there are no long stretches of empty plains in Super Mario Bros where all you can do to pass the time is jump. Super Mario Bros. is both skill AND reflex based, and that is has charming visuals and music and icing on the cake of its brilliant level design.

    I would’ve given this game at least one star, because yes, the graphics are GORGEOUS, and the presentation is STUNNING, but:

    -so was the first game
    -the story is fucking terrible and undermines the game’s virtues
    -yes, the game is entertaining, but only in a Kingdom Hearts 2 “oh god how much worse can it get” way? the battle with Ulysses cements this.

    In conclusion, it’s okay to like this game, and yeah, I was entertained, but not in a good way! It felt good, but not it a good way! I came away from the game feeling like I had wasted my time! I did not take anything positive away from the experience?

    I felt dirty, really.

    Is it wrong to give a game zero stars for that?

  19. Toups I support your review and this website endeavor.

    Hi Tim!

    I hated God of Gears of War of Hand of God, God of War -for short- back when the first game came out The game never was good, but was marketed well. People want a reason to say Sony is still cool. They do that by supporting this game.

    It’s a shame they were kings and kingmakers…now they are scraping the bottom of the rehash barrel for spare change.

  20. I totally back this review 100%, and I’m glad someone has finally put the smackdown on GOW2. I was bored within the first hour of the game, and was thrilled I hadn’t purchased it. It’s most insulting to play a game that is not only inanely repetitious, but tedius, and without any way to manage to make it interesting or fun. What makes it worse is that it’s the same exact game as the first one with a new polish. Yes, of course it’s nice looking. But anyone that finds this fun still should go back to playing their old 8 and 16 bit titles. I’d rather have innovation and ingenuity than playing an ancient Roman version of Final Fight. Or, for that matter, I’d rather play the game that did what this never could: Shadow of the Colossus. At least there I can actually climb my giant foe instead of watching it happen through cutscenes after I slowly press triangle. Fuck Sony.

    -m
    http://www.heteroerotica.blogspot.com

  21. Haven’t played God of War 2, but in the original, the purpose of the duck-roll was to *dodge*. It broke any attack animation you were doing and got you the hell out of there.

    Also, it’s not like the writing in the original was any good either. Just sayin’.

  22. It’s an interesting thesis, because it attacks a game that is so damn good at massaging the pleasure centers of our brains. And, 25 cents of candy can taste better than a $75 steak paired with a $500 bottle of wine.
    But the sad truth is very few videogames are as good as god of war 1/2 at harnessing the pure joy of an interactive medium. (And well done sequels- books, movies, etc- are really difficult to pull off).
    I would counter that God of War is too perfect, too tasty to consume, that there is a reaction that it must be bad for us, it must be lacking, we don’t feel for kratos or the pantheon. Until you realize that god of war is a great modern translation for exactly what greek mythology was- action, soap opera, sex, violence, emotion, rage, chaos and pettiness. It is not Shadow of Colossus, it’s not Chronotrigger, it’s not even Lorna Doone. It’s greco-roman mythologizing where zeus comes down from olympus as a cow and has sex with women, medea butchers her kids because she is an insane bitch, or orpheus looks back only to see eurydice one last time. Do I really need to feel the pain of my custom skater in Tony Hawk when he faceplants?
    When I want Firefly, I’ll go watch Firefly.

  23. “But the sad truth is very few videogames are as good as god of war 1/2 at harnessing the pure joy of an interactive medium. (And well done sequels- books, movies, etc- are really difficult to pull off).”

    You are right in that God of War as a series does an exceptional job exploiting an important part of what makes videogames pleasurable. The problem is that what particular part of what makes videogames pleasurable is kind of fucking sick. There’s nothing wrong with it in and of itself, but on its own I just don’t find it compelling at all. The one aspect that God of War 2 hones in on is not why I play videogames. It can be a valuable tool for expression, and it can help make a game more enjoyable, and I have no problem with games that trigger that basic “fun” response. It’s just the absence of anything else at all that irks me. It makes the game feel kind of insulting.

    But I have weird tastes!

    You are right that the game is very “greek” — this is what I enjoyed about the first one — but even greek myths were written better than God of War 2.

  24. This has been an argument that I’ve had with myself for a long time.
    “Why do I play video games?”
    Is it to achieve a false sense of accomplishment, or just for fun?
    Or maybe both?
    GoW2 gives me both, thus satisfying my reasons for liking it. However, I find frustration that eventually leads to success makes a game great as well.
    Take for example: Final Fantasy Tactics
    This was one of the most frustrating games I have ever played, but it is also one of my favorites.
    A game can be frustrating in a bad way if the game is made poorly, such as poor camera or poor controls; but when a game is made well, such as GoW2, the frustration is nullified by the satisfaction of winning.

    Now back to my first question: Why play games? What draws me to a game is story and playability. Final Fantasy games are not action games, but I play them for story. GoW is not a story game, but I play it for the action. Some games have both, some neither.

    I play games for the same reason others read books or watch movies. To finish it, enjoy it and offer my opinion as needed. As far as a long term goals or sense of accomplishment, it’s all false. Nothing other then saying I beat it or I read that or I saw that is accomplished. God of War, Gears of War, God Hand, Lord of the Rings, Predator, 40 Year Old Virgin, Beowulf… all various forms of ENTERTAINMENT. At the end of the day, nothing is gained, but you are entertained for the time that it is and nothing more.

    Point is, if you hate the game, no big deal, but the game is well made, and you can’t deny that.

    BTW: My taste in games is a bit quirky as well. I loved Victorious Boxers, Zone of the Enders 2, Vagrant Story.

    Also, I’m not a Sony fanboy. I own a Wii and love my DS and owned a 360 at one point but had to sell it because I’m broke as hell.

  25. The short answer is that most people play videogames for “entertainment”, which is the same reason most people watch movies, read books, listen to music, etc. I guess at a certain point I decided that I played games for feeling or meaning, which often comes from entertainment, but not always. There is nothing wrong, of course, with a game made solely for entertainment’s sake. It’s just I expect something about the actual mechanics to be entertaining — God Hand is a perfect example of this, because it not only gives you a flexible combat system but it forces you to learn complex strategies and maneuvers that stem from a limited but versatile move set. There’s a very subtle difference that’s hard to nail down, but God Hand left me feeling euphoric and God of War 2 just left me feeling kind of ill, even though the games seek to achieve the same thing.

    Yes, God of War 2 is well made. In fact, I believe I say as much in the first paragraph of this review. While it shows a mastery of the craft of gamemaking, it also misunderstands the purpose of game making. The game is perhaps a throwback to brawlers like streets of rage or final fight, but the truth is most of those games are unplayable these days. The only reason they were appealing was because it felt good to punch people and you wanted to see what strange sights come next. But beyond that they don’t offer much in the way of meaningful experience, and some of them are, in retrospect, rather hideously designed. I have a feeling that as time goes on, this series will not age very well.

  26. My thought has always been that the problem with God of War (only played the first, but the sequal’s apparantly little different) is quite simple: the design is dull. It looks pretty enough, but the combat’s button-mashy, the levels linear as anything, the puzzles irritating, the bosses repetitive and unvaried and the only interesting bits are reduced to one-button minigames.
    It’s essentially a poor man’s retread of Devil May Cry without the death and variety of approaches to fighting or the deep and detailed enemy design.

  27. The thing that I didn’t really like about the first game, which I assume is in this sequel, was the fucking. I prefer it when my adult content and my video games to be separate.

  28. Good review.

    But I don’t know how long I’ll read this blog as long as you all spell video game incorrectly.

  29. ok first off… you are playing on the easy mode right? yeah that is for retards.. play god mode some time you will use the hell out of the dodge and block buttons… otherwise YOU DIE. second… add some color to your site you cant see the pictures. finally what is with comparing a child like game (Legend of zelda) as good as it is it doesn’t compare to a very gory God of War.

    oh and lemme just say that the orbs are only attracted when you are close enough… that is why they are graphical.

    you don’t deserve to rate video games if you dont realize some basic points about the DIFFICULTY rating that you choose

  30. Probably we deserve to rate videogames because we’re doing it here on this website. Thanks for the feedback!

  31. “But I don’t know how long I’ll read this blog as long as you all spell video game incorrectly.”

    Oh believe me Mr. Pollock, that spelling is entirely correct.

  32. wow nice alternative vision for a change. That really makes me want to buy a game ;)

  33. Having perused the rest of the reviews, and without a larger body of work, my impression is this site values originality, story, utility and bond to characters. (I would like to see reviews of those games that might be 4 of 4 stars, rather than sigma star to better understand what the ideal is). As you say it is a “throwback” to games that offer an immediate reward for playing; an emotional connect to the action rather than the actor. What many of us disagree over, is that games can be enjoyed without explicit “feeling or meaning.” Sports have zero inherent feeling, they are empty vessels we place meaning into.
    Actually, most games have no self-contained feeling. No one cares about the pathos of the pool stick, or the name of the little dog piece in Monopoly. Gaming shares this origin and a large number of games will always be what the gamer makes of them.
    Further, sometimes the ideas generated in response are more valuable than the ideas themselves- the Rambo effect. The Rambo movies have a paper plot, and yet the hold the idea of rambo has on the imagination is many times greater than it deserves- though not for everyone. Contra is one of the greats of this rambo effect, and I think it has aged very well. Will God of War age well? Tough to say, games overall age very poorly, so that plays in your favor. But tight play mechanics are one of the common factors of games that can be played long after their graphics are outdated.

    While at the moment, I cannot think of nonrpgs from the 8 bit and 16 bit era that aged well solely for their story or emotional connect.

  34. I’m actually playing God of War 2 right now. Cool right? I rented it, and if I’d of spent more then 4 bucks on this experience I would be pissed. It’s video game pornography. It has the titties to prove it. Push the square button until the bad men go away. The puzzles make me sick in the worst way as well. I don’t hate God of War but the fact that this game gets AAA scores from game sites only proves that the medium is in a serious decline. Where’s the quality gameplay at? I applaud toups for pointing out what we all know to be true, this game is over rated as hell. I’d rather play Gradius V…

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  37. I’ve just started playing the original God of War for the first time. I watched some friends play it a year ago and they swore to me how much fun it was when I doubted them. After playing for about 3 hours I can’t stand it any more. It’s a total piece of shit. It’s like Crash Bandicoot on PlayStation. Are people that shallow? I felt my mind numbing as I played, but kept collecting, hitting, jumping but all the time my soul was dying. It’s games like this that made me stop playing games during the ‘PlayStation era’. But what really fucks me off the most is that they quoted Euripides on the cover. What cunts. They’ve stolen all their art direction from Greek mythology but then totally raped it all so they can indulge in teenage boy fantasies. I’ve never seen such contrived gameplay. Fuck it. Fuck it to hell. I’m getting so angry thinking about it I can’t type anymore. This game has no dignity.

  38. “The short answer is that most people play videogames for “entertainment”, which is the same reason most people watch movies, read books, listen to music, etc.”

    You’re so fucking right here. But as for there being nothing wrong with it, I’d have to disagree. If all you want from life is to be entertained and go through life being distracted until the next time you fall sleep then do us all a favour and end your pointless existence now.

    That’s not directed at you personally toups, but at anyone who just wants to be entertained; to have their hand held; to watch something ‘light-hearted’; to watch or do something “they don’t have to think about”. You’ve got a brain, if you don’t want to use it, cash it in.

  39. Well there’s a happy medium I think. There’s nothing wrong with coming home after a long day’s work and plopping in front of the boob tube with a cold beer in one hand and your dick in the other to unwind. It’s just, you know, it’s wrong to ONLY want that from your entertainment.

  40. I’m all for unwinding. I’d say I need some of it myself.

    But there’s a difference between someone who’s looking to relax after working hard and someone who constantly needs to be entertained.

    You know the sort. The sort who find slow music depressing and upbeat music uplifting. The sort who always watch the same revenge plot action films with a guy and a gun on the cover and twist “you’ll never guess”. The sort who play games on the easy difficultly and will give up if it’s “too hard”. The sort who’ll only play shooting/driving/ racing/fighting games. The sort you could put in a room by themselves and they’d cease to exist.

    This does not describe all God of War players but if you think this game is a four star deal then you’d probably enjoy fucking your own arse.

  41. I think it’s when you suggest that you only liked the first one because you didn’t know better because God Hand hadn’t come out yet. I hear the levity in your voice, but you never do offer any good reasons as to why the first one is good and the second one isn’t besides some analogies that are supposed to show how the first one was _trying_ and the second one was not.

    Maybe if I had played them both rather than just a bit of the first one the analogies would really click, but as it is, I think you should read that TNG review that someone in the Kotaku comments linked to if you haven’t already.

    I do like your DDR analogy, but I see that as probably the biggest fault, and one that both games suffered from.

  42. The first game is the same, yeah. Part of the reason I’m less forgiving of this game is because I already played the first game, and this game seems all the lazier as a result.

    Of course, the first game is relatively well written and at least provides compelling motivation in terms of plot. From the outset of this game you feel more like Kratos is a dick and probably deserves to be stripped of his godly powers.

  43. I dunno, I found the first game the opposite of compelling. I also take ENORMOUS issue with anyone who calls it “Greek.” Of course, tis a fool who hath said he knows Greek, but people who think God of War has a Hellenic plot are the same people who think Hektor is the best person in the Iliad.

  44. Well, yeah, the first game’s plot isn’t exactly “good”, but it at least gives you a straightforward motivation and some good “in media res” for dramatic interest.

    This game is just “lol kill zeus”

    And no, the games aren’t particularly greek, except in the sense that you kill many many people in gross ways.

  45. I would say Ajax is the best character in the Iliad. But more for what happens to him afterward.

  46. I’d rate this as a bad review.

    First of all, the part where you bring in the duck roll gets part of the point of the duck roll (it’s actually a little faster off the mark and useful for barreling into trees for items) but then proceeded to make my eyes spin like a fruit machine by mentioning the jump from Super Mario. The two aren’t even analogous – there’s no move in Super Mario that isn’t a utility, and any non-utility use that’s been found has been a result of the emergent use of perfectly useful moves.

    It doesn’t feel like you’ve met the game on equal terms – you’ve demanded it meet you on yours. Have you played Astro Boy? On medium it is absolutely shit, a tedious repetition of punches and kicks and finger lasers. On the Hard setting, magic happens. Everything you do must be twitch perfect to survive. Every punch and kick and super move must be a response to whatever situation you’ve found yourself in. The game goes from flabby to taunt with the flicking of a single option.

    Meanwhile, you found God of War II too easy… and you didn’t turn the difficulty up. I don’t have much sympathy for that kind of criticism when the means to rectify it were within your grasp.

    It seems like you really enjoyed this game at times in spite of yourself, then decided to rip it down because it didn’t match some kind of preconception of what makes it a good game.

  47. I’d rate this as a bad review of a review!

    First of all, saying the duckroll is useful for getting rupees and items is like saying picking your nose is useful for getting food. Yes, you can roll into a tree and get rupees and items, but you never need to do this — you never even need those rupees and items, and even if you ever did, they are plentiful enough in supply from a diverse array of sources — so its function is still almost entirely superfluous.

    Second of all, if I’m not totally mistaken, Miyamoto himself likened the duckroll to jumping in Mario Bros in an interview a few years ago. Either way, they are similar, but not identical. Jumping in Mario is the central mechanic of the game, but it also gives you that instantaneous YAY reaction. The duckroll in Zelda gives you that same instantaneous YAY, but doesn’t have a clear cut mechanical purpose. So yes, they are analogous. The secondary function of the jump in SMB is the primary function of the duckroll in OoT.

    Third of all, yes, I’ve played Astroboy, and it’s just as enjoyable on normal (in my opinion) as it is on hard. Furthermore, the game can be completed on one difficulty mode in a few hours, meaning that it’s not too much to ask to play through the game an higher difficulty. On normal, at least, the game gives you a taste of how the game is supposed to play if things are properly balanced.

    In God of War 2, though, my complaint is not that the game is too easy. I died many many times, and in fact even on normal the game is often very difficult. The problem is that there’s nothing very satisfying about the difficulty, and this comes back to the actual game mechanics not being any good.

    Finally, my score of a game isn’t a measure of how much I enjoyed it (though, I really did not enjoy this game much at all), but instead a measure of how well the game is designed. It’s possible to have a great time playing the shittiest games if you’re creative enough, after all. In this case though, no. I did not really enjoy it. The only thing I enjoyed were some of background designs, which, from my perspective, only make the game’s sleight of hand all the more dishonest and insulting.

    And really, if I want to see impressive CGI I could just go watch 300.

  48. Or the intros to WoW and BC. Best full-CGI sequences ever designed. Why don’t they just make a movie already? I guess The Spirits Within has them spooked. Can’t say I blame them.

    I think I should earn some sort of title for thread-tangent creation. Commissar of Tangents? Justicar maybe?

  49. In a Ἀχιλλεύς / Πάτροκλος kinda way? It’s hard to tell with these pseudonyms…

  50. It doesn’t sound like you were creative, though – I didn’t get the sense you ever tried toying with the enemies or trying to use the extra moves, just that you kind of button-mashed your way through it. I get the unmistakable impression you did find worth in this, just from the things you wrote, which is why the teardown is so unconvincing and feels so preconceived.

    Are you actually going to try it on very hard?

  51. I tried it last night.

    It’s even worse! It does change the game, yeah, but it goes from being pleasantly boring to mind-numbingly tedious. Very hard mode means that instead of having a plentitude of boring ways to kill enemies, you have only one to do it that keeps you from getting killed (usually). And so extended battles against the same fucking enemies over and over and over become a finger-cramming exercise in repetition. I gave up when I reached a boss which required me to hold down block and then use the same combo over and over and over and over and over again for like 15 minutes while hoping not to get hit the 2 or 3 times which would result in death.

    In conclusion, this game is still terrible.

    And the thing is — even on normal toying with enemies and flinging them around and experimenting with how to kill them gets old really fast. The game throws about twice as many enemies at you as it should, and the same 2 or 3 death animations each one get become old before you leave the game’s introductory chapter.

    Granted — the animations are marvelous. It’s just, they’re a bandaid. They cover up the fact that the game is shit.

  52. Floppylobster, I am unfortunately a dude. And for the record, I don’t think Achilleus and Patroklos were that way.

    But we could make beautiful, beautiful mind babies.

  53. Then we must fight together like brothers against shit games like this.

  54. Amen to that. I will darken the earth with wine in a prayer to (d)Zeus, and then one for my homies.

    You don’t like Gears of War, though, and it makes me sad; for I have not yet played it, but I unthinkingly trust the opinion of anyone willing to use Attic Greek on an internet message board. It is worrisome!

  55. “…. This isn’t fun. It’s a nervous tick. It’s a bad habit. It’s obsessive compulsive behavior. ”

    Not shit. Welcome to THE NEXT GEN!!! Are you surprised by this? People seem to care more about their fucking achievement points than the game their playing. It’s becoming more and more apparent that video games are more of a nervous tick or a habit than something that’s just fun.

  56. i’d just like to say who ever did this review is a cunt i registered just so i could say you have no idea of what makes a good story in a game i just think you gave it 0 because you’re such a gay bastard you can’t even play it well. how can you call your self a man when you give this game a 0 or is it you just get a kick from being a twat and marking all the good games 0? YOU ARE A CUNT.

  57. I saw this hooker standing on a corner. She looked pretty good in (or perhaps despite) her gaudy makeup and slutty clothes. Even at a glance I could tell underneath it all her body wasn’t half bad. She was no super model or even average regular model but the thought did cross my mind that it was a bit of a shame she didn’t put her looks to some better use.

    I pulled over and she approached my window. She wanted $50. I thought that was a bit steep but agreed. She got in and off we went. She didn’t have much to say and lacked eloquence so I turned the radio up. I was disappointed. I prefer to have a deep meaningful conversation before I fuck a ho.

    After the motel necessities we got to the room and she undressed. My earlier assessment was correct. As for what came next, well, she was a bit of a dead fish. She lay there while I went through the motions. Another disappointment though I’ve had worse. At least she licked my balls.

    I give her zero stars out of four.
    Because fucking hookers is wrong.

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  63. Here’s another link to this review http://braid-game.com/news/2007/04/a-good-review-site/

    I’ve decided that what’s really significant about this review is how it can be used to explain the emergence of art. A person who doesn’t play many video games might find God Hand and God of War II to be indistinguishable – indistinguishable in their stupidity. Yet, there is a gulf between them.

  64. Pingback: What's Great About God of War? (Part 2) | Theology Gaming

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