Games I Love – God of War

Isn't he lovable?

Isn’t he lovable?

I purchased the original game as an afterthought. Back in 2005 I had purchased Red Ninja: End of Honor for PS2 on the assumption that it would be another great ninja stealth game in the vein of Tenchu (another series I will talk about). I was greatly disappointed in the game’s overall mechanics so I returned it to swap. And I had read about another game that was generating good buzz in all the major game magazines. So I picked up God of War, and I was forever changed as a gamer, and, years later, a cosplayer. I am have a tattoo of a red Omega symbol in the same style as the game on my left shoulder.

The game’s impact was immediate and lasting. The opening scene set the tone perfectly.

The Gods of Olympus have abandoned me. Now there is no hope…

The game begins at the end, and you see and experience the events that led up to him attempting suicide off the edge of a cliff. The seven games that span this universe can be summed thusly:

  1. Kratos lusts power, enough so that he sells his soul to Ares
  2. Kratos, tricked into killing his family by the Gods, swears revenge on all of Olympus
  3. Kratos kills everything in his path, ultimately ending his own life with vengeance fulfilled

While the driving plot is simplistic at best, the world that he inhabits is not. The pantheon of Gods, demi Gods, Titans, Furies, and mortals (Hercules) face off against, and lose to, Kratos. He has a bone to pick with everyone. No one is safe if they try to stop him from exacting revenge. The action is always fast and frantic with an emphasis on style. The real treats are the quicktime scenes where he finishes off opponents in a close-up gruesome manner. Seriously, the guy has rage (and daddy) issues.

The order of their overall quality are ranked the following by me:

  1. God of War II (PS2)
  2. God of War: Ghost of Sparta (PSP)
  3. God of War III (PS3)
  4. God of War: Ascension (PS3)
  5. God of War (PS2)
  6. God of War: Chains of Olympus (PSP)
  7. God of War: Betrayal (Yes, I even played the mobile game)

The main components that keep me loving this series are…

Unapologetically Adult and Violent

The violence is raw and visceral. Subtle is not a word in this game’s diction. At times it can be extremely over-the-top it is done in a way that caters to a “man’s man” game philosophy of machismo, little emotion/feelings, and settling disputes by evisceration. It’s a sexist game at times, but the developers didn’t care. Kratos is driven by a single unshakeable motivation, and using his semi God-like strength pulls off incredible feats of strength, agility, and dexterity. My favorite battle from all the games is an undead 20 foot tall armored minotaur. A flawless definition of what should constitute a Boss Battle in every sense.

The most unexpected, and talked about feature, is having sex with prostitutes for points. The action is off the screen but you certainly can hear and indirectly see what’s going on. Through a series of timed button mashes and joypad motions you increasingly progress through the coitus to a climax where red orbs spout everywhere (innuendo ahoy!) It’s optional but some of the games give you trophies for successfully executing. You can see an example below (NSFW) as he takes on an entire brothel at once. It’s quite a feat.

He Takes Shit From Nobody

Whether he’s fighting enemies his size or enemies the size of a school bus he doesn’t flinch. He stares them down with a snarl and proceeds to waste them as if a fly on his arm. His genetics being half Olympian, half human he certainly has a feeling of invincibility about him. No matter how brutal the challenge he never shows his hand; even when he dies he sounds more like frustration than resignation. I try to channel this determination whenever I am lifting weights or running an obstacle course. Inspiring? Yes. Crazy. Probably.

It’s All About The Music

I have to give lots of credit to the voice acting which overall is amazing. leading with voice acting of Kratos by Terrence C. Carson (ever watch ‘Living Single’?) and Linda Hunt as Gaia (except part III). The dialogue overall is top notch, and a few lines are quite memorable. But the music is where this game really has depth.

A lot of games since the PS2 have soundtracks that are more atmospheric than thematic. Not so with this series. Aside from the main overture, certainly battles or scenes have very distinct music that accentuates the struggle at hand.  Two personal favorites below, both of which are part of running soundtrack when I need that extra oomph.

The main soundtrack has a very Mediterranean feel with traditional instruments (I assume) but does also incorporate lots of female vocals at times for background choir. These are my favorite pieces, especially this one:

The Scale of The Boss Fights

As I said earlier, the battles are dynamic and interactive. But they are also massive in scope. Some of larger bosses you have to fight one tier at a time. By the far the most epic one is battle the Colossus of Rhodes. It’s a 20+ minute boss fight taken in multiple stages as you slowly chip away at his huge outer shell, and eventually into his interior. The camera is always moving around changing the scope of scenery as you fight. It’s really breathtaking.

The end game battles are even grander in scope. One involves you deuling Zeus on a platform that is held in Gaia’s hands. Then the battle proceeds to the Titan’s interior where you destroy both of them. There are no words.

No long after the game was released I wanted to cosplay as Kratos. It would take about five years and lot of waxing to get to that stage, but at Dragon*Con in 2010 I managed to accomplish it. I have a much larger gallery lying on Facebook but you can see one example below. NO ONE knew it was me, and even looking at it now I can barely see me.

Me as Kratos (Tina as a siren)

While there is no mention currently of a PS4 version I’m sure it’ll happen eventually. One of Sony’s most successful cash cows will not be ignored.

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