God I'm Bored: A God of War Series Playthrough Thread [Spoilers] [See CW In First Post]


#61

I’m glad you’re enjoying it. I peaced out towards the end of the 2nd game and only watched an abridged playthrough of the 3rd game, and it was just so much. As near as I could tell, it looked like the same slog as the previous 2 games, just with the violence and nihilism turned to 11, and I just had enough.

I made two separate posts in a different thread that I don’t feel like rehashing here, but I think “spiritually ugly” fundamentally understates how the games operate. Kratos isn’t an asshole, he’s a genocidal maniac who does horrible things because he can. He’s not an antihero or a badass – he’s a villain. Everything he does in the 3rd game makes the world a thousand times worse, and the game wants you to revel in that apocalyptic nihilism by turning all the boss fights into extended Mortal Kombat fatality sequences. (Seriously – even MK didn’t have fatalities that took minutes to pull off.) His selfish motivations and actions over the course of the 3 main games make him completely irredeemable, and that’s the context that carries over into whatever happens in the new game.


#62

I will say that the 3rd game has one of my favorite boss match moments ever in Hercules lifting the entire god damn arena. That game generally has some amazing moments like that.


#63

And that’s the part I’m focusing on. Kratos is a monster, but I don’t feel like III, at least, so far, glorifies that monstrosity in any way. It actually feels like it’s pretty clear in saying that, like you say, Kratos is a villain. My thing currently is how the 2018 games deals with this. My guess is, it probably doesn’t, but I still have a while before finding out.


#64

I was idly shuffling through the GoW3 soundtrack last night and even the music makes it pretty clear that the game isn’t a massive fan of Kratos. It’s as nasty and aggro as the rest of the game but it got me thinking. God of War 3 doesn’t like Kratos but it thinks watching him do all this is really cool. The lack of camera control kinda reinforces this. We’re being shown what the developers think is dope shit.


#65

Excuse me but you have forgotten a very important piece of this series. The novelizations!


#66

When I was going over GoW media, I briefly thought I might as well also cover the comics - just six issues, should be no problem, right? But then I thought, man, if there are books I missed, I’d have to read those too, and I really don’t want to do that, so maybe we’ll just confine it to the games.

I can see now that, within the parameters of my silly decision to play the entire series, I’ve at least made one good choice.


#67

God of War III, Pt. 2 - With Special Guest Jessica Walter

I’m on the last leg of the game (I’m just about to enter the Labyrinth), and while I’m still really enjoying the combat, movement and puzzles, I do have a much better understanding now of why people hate on this game so much. I don’t really have a problem in principal with the fact that Kratos is shown doing monstrous things - that’s consistent with his characterization from previous games. Kratos is a vile, hateful mass murderer who cares only about himself and his own power and privilege. Even his love for his family - outside of the excellent, more well-rounded portrayal we see in Chains of Olympus - is framed as ultimately selfish, his anger at their deaths more an expression of him being mad that he had A Thing and someone took that Thing away from him.

I also think the plot is not given enough credit. Jim Sterling wrote in his review of God of War III Remastered that the “plot of any given God of War game is borderline gibberish”, and I don’t quite see that. Like I’ve written in past posts in this thread, God of War II’s plot is pointless, but the entire arc of the series is about showing how a quest for revenge can escalate and become uglier and more brutal and all-encompassing as time goes by. Not the most original idea, perhaps, but a coherent one, and one that is hardly foreign to Greek mythology.

As such, the fact that Kratos is quite literally destroying the world as part of his vendetta against Zeus is not something I think it makes a lot of sense to complain about. I also enjoy the fact that the gods themselves are portrayed as selfish and cruel, although they at least have the basic understanding that maybe you shouldn’t do things that destroy the entire world.

What I hate, however, is pretty much how every individual god is portrayed.

Things start off well enough. Poseidon doesn’t get to have much of a character, but the water horse-crab thing he has going is really cool, and they did a really good job with Hades’ realm - certainly much better than in the first game. No more fleshy rotating spiked pillars, just this gaunt, dark place, steely halls full of evil and dripping with atmosphere. Hades himself also has a really cool design, like that Butcher skin they gave Roadhog but with more SPIKES.

But while the level design remains strong throughout, the Olympians… well.

First off, everything with Helios is incredibly underwhelming. In general, I think Olympia is the weakest part of the game so far - the fight between Cronos and Helios in the background makes for a cool set piece, and the way the Chimera is introduced is really cool. But otherwise, it’s pretty forgettable. What’s worse is that after Cronos knocks Helios out of the sky, “fighting” him consists of clearing some normal soldiers and then a bunch of QTEs. It could’ve been a really cool boss, with flashy attacks and all sorts of games with lighting and visions, but it ends being a very boring encounter. However, the fact you get a head-lamp from him is a nice touch - the scream every time you use it never fails to make me shudder. It really is a good of constantly reminding how horrible and evil Kratos’ actions are (and is one of the reasons why I kinda doubt the game wants to glorify Kratos).

And things only get worse from there. The next character up is Hermes, who… look, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having effeminite men in a game. We certainly don’t get enough male characters who don’t fall into the categories of “tough strong soldier” or “smart nerdy scientist”. But somehow, I feel like this toxic-masculinity-made-manifest of a game was less interested in making a statement on the nature of male portrayal in media and more in getting its own Jack McFarland.

Next up is the Hercules fight, but first, how about an awkwardly-labelled piano puzzle?

This does not break immerssion AT ALL.

Next up is the Hercules fight, which is OK, and you get the Neman Cestus out of it, AKA the closest thing we’ve gotten so far to the glorious Gauntlet of Zeus from Chains of Olympus. It’s especially good in contrast to the other two extra weapons, who both feel like slight variations on the chain blades - especially the Hades ones, which, to the best I’ve been able to ascertain, are borderline useless.

Then you have Hera, who for some reason they decided should act exactly like Lucille Bluth. Hera blunders around, ranting drunkenly, with a cup of wine in hand. She’s thoroughly unlikable, which is weird because everything she tells Kratos - that he is messing with things he doesn’t understand, that his quest for revenge is runining everything - is perfectly true. Weirder still, what finally drives Kratos to kill her is that she calls Pandora a bad name, which is really out of character not just because Kratos only cares about himself, but that he makes his disdain for Pandora quite clear over the course of the game.

Oh, and did we mention that there’s a disgusting sex scene with Aprhodite in this thread yet? Because… yeah. You know that part in Archer where Lana Kane charges men so they could tell other men in the office they had sex with her, and all of the men know that the other men who talk about having sex with her got the same deal, but they all go for it anyway? Throughout this scene, I couldn’t help but thinking how well that describes cishet male sexuality.

I didn’t think I’d say this, but in the midst of all this, Kratos using a half-naked, helpless woman to hold up a lever, crushing her to death in the process, seems almost mundane. It’s hateful and exploitative, sure, but I find that the more subtle prejudice reinforced by the portrayal of other characters in this game is much more insidious.

And that’s the basic contradiction of this game for me. It’s a very well-polished, well-presented game that I have a lot of fun with, and whose overall plot I can appreciate, if I just ignore the hateful garbage that it spews at every other turn. And you shouldn’t have to do that, and I get why many people don’t want to do that. Frankly, especially nowadays, there’s plenty of stuff you can play that does much, MUCH better. All things to keep in mind for when I play the 2018 game.

I’ll probably have another post after I finish the game, which should be at some point over the next 2-3 days, just to sum up my thoughts and discuss the ending which, judging by the comments some people have written, will probably be a whole thing. Then it’s back to the PS3 for some Ghost of Sparta and Ascension.


#68

I would joke about how you should commit more to the literary cannon of God Of War but I just remembered there’s Dark Souls comics and I think I shall refrain from escalating this cold war


#69

Plus you do NOT want me to question your handling of the mobile game


#70

Oh god they did do that! Well if that’s still around I guess that’s next…


#71

God of War III, Pt. 3 (And Final) - That Ending, Huh

CW: This post contains brief discussions of self-harm.

Also, this post is basically one big spoiler, so skip it if you don’t want to read details about the game’s ending.

So that… ended like that. I didn’t think they were gonna do that!

Again, things start out well enough. Until the very last hour or so of the game, I thought the ending was shaping out to be amazing. Kratos gets Pandora out of the Labyrinth, has second thoughts about using her to get past the Flame of Olympus, in his blind rage, lets go of her and attacks Zeus, and after the fight, realizing the terrible thing he has done, he opens the box to find out it’s empty. Beautiful! Amazing! Kratos’ quest for revenge is, ultimately, meaningless, a directionless, purposeless campaign of destruction that was driven by a false promise for power.

Now all that’s left is a final fight with a stronger, more monstrous Zeus, echoing the second game’s final boss battle after the allusion to the first game’s final boss battle in the first phase. After the fight, you could have Kratos just watch over the evil he has wrought upon the world.

You could even have an ironic contrast with the first game’s ending, having Kratos attempting to kill himself by dropping off of a cliff - as he kinda does in the actual ending - only to launch him back to his previous throne as God of War, surrounded by bodies and wreckage, further underscoring the emptiness of his “victory”. What a fantastic conclusion it could have been to a series about a man whose escalating quest for revenge destroys everything he has, and everything in general.

Instead, we get this shit.

After the fight with Zeus, Gaia attacks because she’s alive now for some reason, and the fight continues inside of her. Kinda weird, but OK. Once that’s over, Zeus’ ghost comes out of his body and zaps Kratos into Black-and-White World, where he gets a message from… Pandora! Pandora repeats some mealy-mouthed thing about how hope is what saves us, and with her guidance, Kratos learns to forgive himself - HIMSELF!!! - after for like four games now we’ve seen that Kratos is the last person who deserves any sort of hope, forgiveness or redemption.

Then Kratos uses the Power Of Hope to beat Zeus into a bloody pulp. Then Athena shows up, telling Kratos to give her the power he got, and when he reveals there was nothing in the box, she goes on FOREVER with this nonsense about how what made Zeus and the rest of the Gods go bad is that evil spirits came out of Pandora’s Box when Kratos opened it up to defeat Ares and ahhh -

AHHHHHH!

NO! NO! BAD! The Gods aren’t selfish and cruel because evil spirits infected them. They’re selfish and cruel BECAUSE THEY’RE GODS, because of their power and vanity. They’ve been selfish and cruel since at least Chains of Olympus, where they’re already screwing around with Kratos and at one point leave him to bleed out on a precipice simply because they can, and this is long before any notion of Kratos killing Ares has even come up.

Frankly, as far as coming up with far-fetched explanations for why Zeus turned on Kratos goes, I’d say Betrayal did a far better job, and boy is that a low bar to skate under. I have not seen a case of squandering a promising end to a trilogy this bad since Mass Effect. This ending is confusingly, bafflingly, infuriatingly bad, and can only be explained by corporate interference due to some misguided desire to keep the franchise going on and on.

And don’t think I don’t see you grinning over there, @JKDarkSide.

And so, much like with Mass Effect 3, I still think this game is brilliant in a lot of ways, and I certainly see myself coming back for challenges / additional playthroughs - but much like with that game, there will be a moment where our hero is transported to a dark place and I leave the game before the nonsense comes up.

Now I’m actually even more curious about the new game, because before I thought it would have to justify why Kratos deserves anyone’s time at this point, but now it has so much more to account for. I feel like this really vindicates my decision to play through the series before getting to the new game. But before that, we still have two games to get through. Today I’ll probably be busy with Overwatch season placements, but I hope to wrap up Ghost of Sparta and Ascension by the end of this week and finally start the new game next week.

EDIT: Also, this is probably the least of our worries at this point, but the “Kratos thinks of Pandora as his daughter” thing is so unearned. I don’t really like The Last of Us, but it’s hard not to contrast how well Joel’s arc from thinking of Ellie as a nuisance to becoming so attached to her was done so well and was built so carefully there and how ham-fisted and forced it feels here.


#72

I totally forgot about the Pandora’s Box reveal. I recall the Zeus fight itself because it’s an incredible piece of pacing and choreography if nothing else, but man, that shit is baaaad.


#73

Haha, let me tell you, Guitar Hero and Rock Band were very popular at the time when GoW3 came out…

As for the final fight. I thought it was good how the game essentially leaves you mashing the circle button as you punch Zeus in the face. Mashing the circle button is kind of the cornerstone of this series. It’s how you open doors, it’s how you land the coup de grat on unfortunate enemies, it’s part of the game’s controls when comitting violence. So the game keeps prompting you to mash circle until the screen goes red, I believe the music fades until all you hear is the ambience around you of the dead mountainside. It’s up to you to decide when to stop mashing, thereby making Kratos’ revenge complete. It’s a pretty telling moment that asks the question ‘now what?’, is Kratos now made better once he’s had his revenge? Of course not. Revenge is always a fruitless act. I thought it was quite powerful, and in a game that has attempted to depict Kratos more as a villain it’s a strong note. Kratos has killed his white whale. Now what? Though of course having him release ‘hope’ on the entire world is a joke - like he’s Luke Skywalker or something.

Ascension has more of GoW3’s polish, it just feels as if it is scraping the barrel in terms of throwing you things to kill out of Greek mythology. Maybe you should keep this thread up by playing all God of War clones that came out around the same time. Dante’s Inferno, Darksiders, Force Unleashed, Wolverine: Origins… Come to think about it… most of these games are about gaining revenge on some big bad.


#74

Yeah, that final bit of the final fight is good. In fact, I’d say the whole fight, if we gloss over the silly, forced optimism, is pretty good. I think it’s missing a second, more massive phase for Zeus, but as far as giving the feeling of two gods fighting each other, it does a damn good job. In fact, the whole thing reminded me, of all things, of War Gods, aptly named for this thread, a Nintendo 64 fighting game where all the characters are these god-like beings, most of whom are references to real-world mythologies and religions. It was pretty bad, and in retrospect, probably pretty racist, but it’s the last time I remember a video game managing to convey that “gods duking it out” feel.

As for doing God of War clones after we get through the whole series, I’m flattered by the interest, but I’m not sure. Personally, I’m not that big of a hack-and-slash guy. I find God of War fascinating to analyze in terms of how much its triumphs continue to be matched by its failures, but I’m not sure I’d have much to say about, say, Dante’s Inferno, which I just found unpleasant to play.

I did, however, want to do another series playthrough after this one. I was considering Resident Evil, but maybe I could do Darksiders? I do want to replay 1’s remaster, and maybe from there I could go on to II and III later in the year. I suppose I’ll ask what people are interested in when this thread is wrapped up.


#75

If you really wanted to push your limits you would check out Dante’s Inferno which is such a blatant God Of War Ripoff that it’s honestly comical. Also Satan has a massive dong in it for some ridiculous reason.


#76

I assume it’s for the same reason that the villan of the second Mirror’s edge game has the CEO of EA as it’s villain, to fuck with some one at EA and see if they’re paying attention


#77

Well If you’re looking to do more PlayStation exclusive series that haven’t aged particularly well with sloppy plots, questionable content, a whole lot of spectacle, and a history of being tech showcases, Killzone is there for you


#78

I don’t have anything that useful to add besides enjoying your journey, especially since i dont need to subject myself to these games again.

I do want to say Chains of Olympus has my all time favorite quick time event, where you have to mash circle to push your daughter away before murdering a ton of people on Elysium.

it’s incredibly hilarious and combined with the tragic mood is tries so hard to set up during that scene it made me laugh so hard


#79

Hehe, nah, I played all of the non-handheld Killzone games enough to know there’s nothing to them (although I did kinda like Shadow Fall’s campaign, and played about 300 hours of MP).


#80

Thanks! Having watched quite a few of your videos, that means a lot. And yeah, that QTE in Chains is pretty ridiculous, but to me that was mitigated by the fact that the game is so far the only one in the series whose plot has any sincerity, and the only one which manages to makes Kratos somewhat possible to identify with.