God of War

This New Year, I packed up my trusty old PS2 and took it round to the girlfriend’s house. Haven’t played it in a year or so, got a few games left for it which I haven’t completed, one of which being the first God of War game. I’d left it saved just over the half way point (I think), where you first come up against the three-headed dogs, on normal difficulty.

Something that games like this need is a practice mode. An arena where you get enemies that don’t attack, so you can remember all the moves or just mash buttons, and get used to it again. Tekken has always had this feature, where you can practice combos and the like; if you’ve left the game for a long time, you can go to the practice mode and remember how to do that overhead punch with Jin which no-one can get past easily. God of War has loads of moves and counter moves, to be used with two weapon sets, and four magic attacks, each of which can be used differently. It’s a lot to take in, especially when you come to the game cold. I fired up the game and reloaded my old save, fully expecting to get battered for fun.

What God of War does is let you die a lot at the same place (I think it’s about eight times in a row), and when you’ve died at a particular section enough times, it asks if you want to reduce the combat difficulty. I know a fair few games do something similar now, but God of War was made in 2004; I can’t remember a game before this that is so thoughtful. A lovely touch, and one which meant I could finally get past them fucking bastard three-headed dogs.

It was at this point where my girlfriend came in the room, sat down for a cigarette, and watched the game. I kept playing, and realised just how good this game is. Small gameplay sections, none which take long to complete, several variations on the “kill, explore, puzzle” gameplay bits, and an absurd amount of sheer spectacle. I’m about to get into spoiler territory, so if you don’t want to know how the game ends, stop reading and just fucking finish it will you? You’ll be glad you did.

So yeah, I ended up finishing the game. And fuck me, what an ending! You play as Kratos, a mortal who asks for and gets the power to defeat all his enemies. The power is granted by Ares, the God of War. Kratos goes around killing the fuck out of everything ever, until Ares tricks him into killing his own family. Kratos decides this is out of order, and so he, the mortal, decides to pick a fight with the god who gave him his power. Kratos fights his way to Pandora’s Box, the only weapon which can help him against Ares (who, cos he is a god, is the size of two skyscrapers welded together). Just as he goes to open it, Ares kills him, and so Kratos goes to Hell. Because Kratos is fucking bad ass, he doesn’t like this, so he fights his way out of Hell (did I tell you this game is awesome?), finds Ares, opens Pandora’s Box, and this makes him the same size as Ares. Kratos squares up to him, and you take control of Kratos for the fight. The camera has panned out for the fight, cos you are now the size of skyscrapers too – the background to the fight is Greece. Pretty much all of it. By now, the game has seared the word EPIC into your retinas, and you daren’t blink cos you’re fighting the GOD OF WAR here and he is a bad bastard.

Eventually, you twat him enough and he stumbles, but then he remembers he is the GOD OF WAR and he sends you to another dimension where your family is alive, but getting killed by a billion copies of you. So you hug your family (to give them your health to keep them alive), whilst repeatedly killing yourself. Eventually, you save them, but Ares says you are a dick cos they’re already dead and brings you back to Greece. Then he takes your bad ass weapons off you, and goes to kill you again.

Here’s an awesome bit of awesome. Right at the start of the game, you have to visit a temple from the side of a mountain. The temple is on a massive pillar, and the bridge between the pillar and the mountain is in the shape of a sword. At the end of the game, after Ares takes the Blades of Chaos off Kratos, and moves in for the kill, Kratos realises the bridge is made out of a fucking sword, and picks it up. You fight Ares one last time with a sword the size of a bridge. This is so awesome, I’m getting a semi typing this.

Edge magazine gave Resident Evil 4 10 out of 10. Resi Evil 4 is another game I’ve not finished yet. I went back to it after God of War, and got up to where Salazar gets put into a monster plant thing and attacks you. All the things which Resi Evil 4 was praised for, God of War did, and did them all much better. Why God of War isn’t praised as highly is beyond me. It’s a game which, even though it’s 5 years old and on the PS2, brings fucking tons of spectacle, gameplay, and sheer entertainment to bear, that it’s impossible to not love it. It reminds me why I love games; why I love to pit myself against these creations designed to stop me, why I strive to see the next big thing, and why games cannot and never will be films. Games are better, and God of War proves it.

When Kratos finally took his place as the new God of War, I was so pumped, I could have headbutted a thousand dogs in the face.

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