Dante’s Inferno… If you thought God of War was tasteless…
Real talk: Killzone multiplayer was (and is) outstanding. Sony should absolutely make a multiplayer-only Killzone with emphasis on Warzone mode. /end_thread_derailment
I still like the campaign but yeah, as far as multiplayer military shooters go, I find it’s significantly more slow and calculated than, say, Blops II, which I also liked but which was always a bit too frantic for me. KZ’s pace actually allows for some strategy rather than just running around shooting.
If you want to do another let’s play, there was a ratchet and clank cell phone game…
I was thinking about doing the next one with an accompanying stream / let’s play, but that’s another thing I’ll have to gauge interest in near the end of this run. Ratchet and Clank, though… no no no. No no. I played the new one and… no no no no no.
Aaaaaw, but you could get to talk about how you couldn’t strafe in the first one and it was still dope and then you could strafe in the second one and it was even better and then in the third they had Dr. Nefarious and Lawrence and the villains just get better and better and how the VO performances were good and the puns the guns and…
You should probably do a Ratchet And Clank Retrospective, Nono
I really like the idea of this thread. Would love to do it for all the tomb raiders. I just don’t think I’d be able to move outside of my rose tinted goggles for the old ones… I would be overly critical of the new ones because they weren’t the old ones. That new Tomb Raider is out in September though…
Put it this way: if I ever get on Patreon, this will be my 10,000$ milestone. And I reserve the right to bump that up to 20,000$.
Well, keep in mind that idea is actually originally by @VulpesAbsurda (whose name I just realized I got wrong in the original post - sorry, friend!) - I got it from Five Souls One Fox. But yeah, it’s really cool. This isn’t my first series playthrough, and they’re always fun to do, even the series isn’t that great - as long as there’s some meat to it, which TR certainly has. And I’ve really been enjoying the discussion on this thread. It’s been a good time.
God of War: Ghost of Sparta - Though I Love You Like A Brother, I Would Rather Play Another
As much as I’ve enjoyed God of War III, all the while playing it, I was really looking forward to get to Ghost of Sparta. Chains of Olympus was the first game in the series I legitimately loved, and at this point, it remains tied with III as my favorite: III is more polished and has a more balanced and engaging combat system, but CoO has better story, and considering how III’s latter parts went story-wise, and especially the ending, another GoW game with better story would be extremely welcome at this point.
And so, I excitedly started playing Ghost of Sparta, another PSP game (I played the remastered PS3 version) developed by Ready At Dawn, the same studio that made Chains. The game is an interquel, which is a word I like using because it’s pretty silly, taking place between the second and third games, after Kratos became the new god of war but before his fall from grace at the hands of Zeus. Kratos receives visions suggesting he needs to go to the temple of Poseidon in pre-sunk Atlantis for a revelation regarding his past, and follows through, contrary to the advice of Athena. Upon doing so, he finds out that his brother, Deimos, is still alive out there, and he sets out on a quest to free his lost sibling, a quest that will set him against gods both new and old.
The interesting thing about Ghost of Sparta is that, in a complimentary move to Chains of Olympus, it shows us Kratos at the height of his power. Not only does everyone, both deities and people, know who he is, but he is also widely revered by his people. Statues are erected in his honor; he inspires and honors his soldiers; and he is equally cruel to those who challenge him. It’s easy to portray a ruler who is completely irredeemable or strangely benevolent, but to show a regime that’s monstrous, but source of popular support still makes sense, is somewhat of a rarity. And while that’s not the focus of the game, it’s something worth noting.
The disinteresting thing about Ghost of Sparta, sadly, is everything else. Not only does GoS have nothing new to show, it’s a distinct step backwards for the series. It squanders the potential of its platform predecessor, and in the process, blunders in ways that harken all the way back to the first God of War - although, and I did expect to say this again at some point, it’s at least not that bad.
Things don’t start out too shabby. The tutorial section in Atlantis is servicable, with the boss fight against the Scylla simultaneously a throwback and a superior version of the first game’s Hydra fight. The enemy design is in general excellent, with all manner of horrors of the deep combined with fearsome mechanical giants and the already familiar mythological creatures to create an impressive bestiary (the fight against Erinys and her bird friend is HARD. CORE.).
But somewhere, very early on, things just don’t… click. The first problem you’re likely to notice is that this game is clunky as hell, and I don’t mean that in the “dodges and blocks kinda don’t work” sense of the first game, although there’s some of that as well. It’s more that Ghost of Sparta managed to miss pretty much every quality of life improvement made over the past few entries, including, bafflingly, ones from Chains of Olympus itself. Dragging objects is slow and cumbersome. Platforming is a mess because it’s never clear which platforms you can actually land on. Using certain weapons and abilities requires standing in place for fear that moving will shift the targeting focus to another enemy. And so on, and so on. Whatever you do in the game, there’s always this feeling of nagging, of the game trying to bother you in an effort to work around a technical issue that previous games have already solved.
But mostly, it’s just bland. There’s nothing new to the combat, and in fact, this game brings back stuff from the first two games like enemies no-selling your blocks and constant respawns of the same two monsters that I can’t imagine anyone was missing. Kratos’ blades can now be turned to flame, which allows you to hit harder and break through enemy defenses, but this is ruled by a meter which runs out during use and then regenerates, meaning that you constantly find yourself holding another button in combat where getting around enemies is already hard enough, and there’s a lot of downtime where you just wait for meters to go up and enemies to mechanically shut up already so you can have your go again. The result is combat that feels less like a blazing dance and more like a slow staccato.
Worst of all, the story this time is absolutely wretched, not necessarily bad or silly but just completely useless. Through flashbacks, it is revealed that Deimos was taken by the gods Athena and Ares when he and Kratos were children, and Kratos still feels responsible for letting his brother be taken. Travelling to various temples and tombs, Kratos finds a way to enter the realm of Thanatos, who has been torturing Deimos at the behest of the gods because a prophecy made them believe that he, and not Kratos, is the one who will overthrow them (because uh, don’t ask). The gods, meanwhile, are really pissed that Kratos went to Thanatos and killed him to free his brother, and really, between this and God of War III’s Pandora’s Box nonsense, I prefer Betrayal’s cheeky attempt to justify why the gods and Kratos got beef.
I mean, I get that this is an attempt at a more personal story, something to give us from insight into Kratos as a character. That’s fine! Those are good when done well. But nothing really comes out of it. Kratos doesn’t go through any arc except “now slightly more mad at gods” for lying about his brother being alive and ultimately allowing him to be killed. There are hints at something deeper, the idea that Kratos is willing to throw away his power and privilege for the chance to have some sort of family life again. But this is only hinted at, and the story does nothing interesting with it.
Plus, using your royal guard to go take care of personal errands? Kinda corrupt, dude. I expect better of an unrepentant mass murderer.
I’m somewhat surprised at the length of Ghost of Sparta. It’s supposed to be longer than Chains of Olympus, but it feels like the shortest game so far (except for Betrayal). And yet, it was the one that motivated me the least to explore or make more of my time with it. It’s telling that this is the only game so far where I haven’t managed to max out Kratos’ upgrades, and while you could argue that’s because this game hid experience point chests better than former entries, I’d say it’s because I mostly just didn’t want to bother to hang around longer than absolutely needed.
Ghost of Sparta, to me, is kind of a baffling creation. It feels less like the sort of passionate work that Ready At Dawn have done before and more like a corporate creation meant to coincide with III’s presence in gaming’s collective consciousness. There’s a feeling no one wanted to make this: the writing is uninspired, the voice actors sound bored (Terrence C. Carson barely managed to bellow convincingly in this one, and that says something!), and there’s this big shadow of “meh” over the whole thing. One could not craft a more by-the-numbers God of War game if one tried.
Also, I realized something.
I now know the names of Kratos’ daughter, brother and mother -
But I still have no idea what his GODDAMN WIVE’S NAME IS
Anwyay, that’s it for that huge letdown. Next time - probably this weekend - we’re talking about Ascension, the final entry before the new game. Hopefully it will be a bit more inspired, because I’m running out of “this game is very generic” cliches to use in this thread.
EDIT: Also, I think this is easily the best subtitle gag I had in this thread yet.
kudos on the gag, very much good.
I think it’s interesting that you talk about the idea of providing a more personal story in the GOW series and how the game kinda squanders it, because from what I’ve gathered it seems like this is what the new game is trying to do right by in a lot of ways.
The problem some people have with that seems to be that it’s maybe too little, too late. We’ve been subjected to so much Kratos by now that it’s hard to be sold on a deeper exploration of him as a character, when there is so much bullshit that precedes it, so to speak.
Very interested in seeing what you think of Ascension, which most people consider to be the most soulless, cash grabby game in the series.
Yeah, opinion on Ascension seems to be VERY polarized. Most people seem to either love it or hate it. Not a lot of middle ground there. I’m very curious about that because it’s such an unknown quantity, but I won’t have to wonder for long.
And yeah, a lot of what I think about the new game will be up to how it engages not only with Kratos but with the pretty awful way they wrapped up III. I get and dig what they want to do with the franchise, but they have a lot to make up for.
I purchased Ascension the day it came out. But it’s one of those games that I’ve tried to beat on numerous occassions but never actually do. I tried recently before the new God of War came out, but got stuck with one of the puzzles. They change the combat a little bit, but not sure if it’s as good as God of War 3. They seem to go all in on the blades of Chaos.
For what it’s worth, Ghost of sparta on the PSP was an insane technical achievement at the time. It was the only handheld version of a console game that didn’t constantly remind you that you were playing one. Looking back though, I couldn’t tell you a thing about it besides that.
through gritted teeth Well luckily I already committed to getting through this entire series so no such problem for me
I never played Ascension but i did play the multiplayer beta and that was way better than it had any right to be.
it sort of felt like Anarchy Reigns with point control modes? but mostly I did single combat. it was a cool take on arena fighting and had a balance between letting combo and break out of strings
God of War: Ascension - Ass-Scent-Sion
deep, deep sigh
Let’s start with the good things.
First of all, I kinda like the idea they had for what to do with the rage meter. Usually, God of War has a meter that goes up as you hit enemies, and when it’s full, you can unleash some really devastating attacks by clicking the two analog sticks. The problem with this system is that the meter takes a long, long time to build up, usually several fights, and if it’s your first time playing through the game, it’s never clear when’s a good time to use it. So this time around, the meter builds quite rapidly and drains at the end of the fight, so you’re encouraged to use it. I say the idea as opposed to what they actually did becuase it doesn’t actually work (much like everything else in this game jesus christ), but it’s a nice thought.
As usual, monster design is top notch. A lot of them are just re-skinned old enemies, but it’s cool to fight an elephant man, or goat man, or an amazon. This is as close to diversity as we’re about to get in this series, it seems.
It’s also cool that we get a callback to the first game in the form of a fight against a really cool looking version of the Hydra.
Finally, I won’t get into story spoilers, but it is nice that we get to see that Kratos really cares about his family. When offered a false way to reunite with his wife and daughter, he doesn’t take it, because he knows they wouldn’t be real. It suggests he might actually care about them as people, not just as things he keeps around. I’m not sure it meshes all that well with his portrayal in previous games, but it’s a nice character touch nonetheless.
OK, is that it? Good. Now that we’ve gotten that of the way -
I absolutely loathe this game. This is the worst time I’ve had with any God of War game up to this point, worse than the first one , which I found borderline unplayable. I am honestly shocked at how bad this game is, how completely and utterly it failed to capitalize on the advances made by previous titles. Ghost of Sparta was boring and a step back for the series, but it was more bland than outright bad. This one, though, ooh boy.
So let’s start at the beginning. God of War: Ascension is a prequel to the entire series, taking place shortly after Kratos was tricked by Ares into murdering his family. Kratos renounces his oath to Ares, which is a big no no (no relation), and as punishment, he is cast into the Prison of the Damned, where oath-breakers are tormented by the Furies, who are, sadly, not the Baseball Furies from The Warriors.
Kratos is able to escape his cell with the help of Orkos, a mysterious figure with an apparent vendetta against the Furies. From there the narrative shifts back and forth between the weeks before Kratos was captured and the “present”, which I didn’t even realize until I started reading a summary of the plot to remind myself of some names and event order. Suffice to say, the plot of Ascension is complete and utter gibberish, forgettable, inconsequential and ultimately not worth bothering with, trying to explain things that needed no explanation, like why Ares saved Kratos and why the gods turned against the former, in what has, sadly, become something of a series staple.
But is combat good? Also no! Ascenson is a nightmare to play, a constant audiovisual cacophony that suffers from poor sound design, with many sound effects strangely muted or altogether missing, as if we’re playing a Steam early access asset flip, and many others obnoxiously loud. There are options to balance music, speech and SFX volume, but no amount of volume balancing will help deal with the terrible EQ that makes the low-end muddy up everything. I had to turn the volume way, way down just to not finish a session with my ears ringing.
On the visual front, Ascension offers bad lighting that makes it hard to distinguish between Kratos and his enemies, meaning it’s incredibly easy to lose track of where you are when fighting a mob of enemies, something which happens quite often. Enemy attacks are poorly telegraphed and both combo and dodge animations are hard to cancel, meaning it’s almost impossible not to be hit by more minor enemy attacks, so while I rarely died in this game, I found it nearly impossible to combo, instead having to go in for a couple of quick hits before dodging away again, which makes combat go on forever.
Seriously, what are they doing with their code that they keep screwing up dodges after getting them right in previous games?
It also means that the new rage meter, while a nice idea, is rarely useful. It takes really long to charge it up, and it’s rarely worth the effort. Later in the game you can unlock an upgrade that doubles the size of the meter, which was really funny to me, because usually by the time you get it up there the fight is already over.
But the biggest culprit of all in this is the camera. Here is the chance to give some praise to former games that I forgot to give at the time: even in the worst games in the series, I never found the fixed camera to be a problem. In fact, God of War has so far reminded of what a strong device good non-player controlled camera can be, not just as a way of framing the action but also for storytelling and guiding players.
Ascension sometimes follows this tradition, but more often it screws it up in spectacular ways. The camera will sometimes zoom out ridiculously far away in the middle of combat, often also behind a very large object in the foreground, so that it’s literally impossible to see what’s going on. Just keep mashing those buttons and hope something good happens!
That’s not where the visual problems end, either. It hit me while playing Ascension that this is actually the first game in the series that I’m playing on the system it was made for, and it is not an impressive experience. Ascension is an ugly game, with bad textures, an overwhelmingly dark and muddy color palette, and a frame rate that can barely maintain 30fps most of the time.
The game does put more emphasis on puzzles than previous games, and to that end it provides you with pretty interesting items, including one that stops time and allows you to fix or break certain environmental items - sometimes requiring you to go in both directions, or part-way through - and one that allows you to leave a copy of Kratos behind to hold a lever or another item as you continue to walk around. However, the game doesn’t capitalize on these concepts, restricting their out-of-combat use to very obviously labelled sections, with no place for creativity on the side of players on how to use these new items.
I’ve heard people calling this game cynical, and it’s not hard to see where that comes from. There are all sort of small, almost nitpicky issues with this game that, although inconsequential in and of themselves, show a degree of incompetence that is almost certainly driven by indifference. Gorgon Eyes are, strangely, referred to as “Gorgon’s Eyes”. Artifacts are now called “Artefacts”, which, unless they really are “an artificial product or effect observed in a natural system”, is just wrong. Did no one… did no one proofread this game’s texts?
The writing is also wretched. Characters will just say a line like “his persistence only means he’s dead”, and the game will gladly steal entire character concepts from Total Recall, and flash an appropriately-named achievement like some shit-eating grin, completely unashamed in its artistic bankruptcy.
Worst of all, the game gets the only interesting thing about Kratos wrong. At some point in the game, Kratos refuses to kill someone who aided him along the game to save himself, saying that he has “spilled enough innocent blood”. But we just spent six games explaining why Kratos is completely incapable of such self-reflection. What’s with these games and trying to give Kratos some righteous moral core? The only excuse this series has for existing is that it manages to tell the story of a purely, completely irredeemable monster. Can’t you just leave well enough alone already?
Ascension tries to replicate previous games’ sense of spectacle. You’ll be jumping around crumbling rooftops in an arcane, isolated jail made from a dead giant, and parasites will come out of a hand to form a hydralisk, and it’ll feel like it should be cool. But the vast majority of the game remains too clunky, hollow and ill-conceived to merit even a look, and the weird camera makes everything look like you’re just bashing action figures together. Ascension is by far the worst game in the series at this point, and one of the more miserable experiences I’ve had with a game in a while.
And with that, we are officially done with all of the older God of War games - quite a milestone! I’m probably going to throw up a short summary post later, and then decide how exactly I want to cover the new game here. Either way, despite this most recent experience, I feel like the time spent getting to now this series was well-spent.
Damn this reads like what I imagine me doing a play through of the Nier games would be like
Also you will almost certainly be done with this entire series before I even finish Bloodborne so congrats? I should write faster. And should not have gotten distracted (ironically enough) with the new God Of War game
Speaking of awful achievements, this reminded me of a small controversy over the name of one.
After a boss fight with one of the Furies there’s a cutscene where Kratos does his usual thing of committing ultraviolence against his enemy. The difference here is that instead of being a mythical creature or monster, his opponent looks like a woman which makes the lovingly rendered brutality kind of uncomfortable and undercuts the power fantasy. The scene isn’t that long and the game fixes the tone almost immediately so people probably wouldn’t have cared much if it wasn’t for the trophy you get afterwards called “Bros before Hos” which was then renamed to the somewhat better “Bros before Foes” after getting called out by Adam Sessler.
Good on you for sticking with Ascension. You are a better God of War fan than I.
Look forward to your thoughts on new God of War. I finished it a week ago. I really liked it, with a few reservations.