Game Overkill – God of War
I remember the first time I played God of War… or was it God of War 2? Maybe it was God of War 3? It was definitely the one where you have to fight your way out of Hades at some point.
Seriously though, I only kinda remember when I first played this game. I played the second game first, which was around 2008, after my brothers let me take the PS2 with me to Montreal. I played the first game in the trilogy maybe two years later. I played 3 for about 15 minutes when I got my PS3, but the feeling of “THIS IS THE EXACT SAME GAME AS THE FIRST TWO BUT WITH BETTER GRAPHICS!” was too overwhelming. The disc has never enterred my PS3 since.
As a result of all this, I can barely remember what story or gameplay element is or isn’t in any of the games, so playing and beating God of War again was an interesting experience.
I remember really liking God of War 2, and when I finally got to 1, I felt a little underwhelmed, but chalked it up to it having come earlier and thus having less variety in terms of gameplay, enemies, weapons, etc. It would be like playing Super Mario Bros 3 first, then playing the original a few years later. Super Mario Bros is a great game, but when you’re already used to 3, the comparison does not benefit it.
That being said, playing it again years later, hindsight coupled with playing several other games that have tried to copy many of God of War’s elements, I have to admit that the game that launched this series has not fared well in my opinion.
I put this game on my personal list of “Games everyone should play at least once,” but I have to admit I’m regetting it. There’s nothing terrible about God of War exactly. The graphics are alright, so it isn’t that it hasn’t aged well in that sense, but I just feel like the hype and praise surrounding this game is nowhere near justified looking back on it.
The story, often described as epic, was uninspiring to me. It was just stuff that kept interrupting the gameplay, which itself wasn’t terribly interesting. The fighting is repetive, with the same enemies (there are only 10 different enemies, I believe), and the puzzles are easier and stupider than anything found in a Zelda game.
Now, I will admit to not being a fan of beat ’em ups, but I do like hack and slash games. The PS2 had a lot of these types of games. I much prefer Devil May Cry and Gauntlet Legends, but when compared to those two, it becomes obvious to me that all of my complaints might be a serious case or “arbitrary personal preference.” I’m criticising God of War’s story and gameplay as uninteresting and repetitive when DMC’s story is alright and Gauntlet’s is practically non-existant. Meanwhile, I say God of War’s gameplay is repetitive, but I don’t feel the same way about DMC and Gauntlet. Why? I have absolutely no idea.
Maybe we should hear from a few people who listed the game. Eric Hunter wrote to me about getting his appendix removed a few years ago, heading to GameStop, buying a PS2 and a bunch of games, and ending up only playing Grand Theft Auto 3 and 1 other game:
God of War was one of those titles that I heard a ton about but never got around to playing it when it was released. Within the first ten minutes I was kicked in nads repeatedly and hooked ever since.
I have a warm place for beat em ups in my heart and God of War strengthened it ever the more. It was the next step in the evolution of the genre with epic story telling and a badass protagonist. It had everything I ever wanted and more.
Sadly, I have still yet to beat God of War but I look fondly on it standing on my shelf knowing one day we will sit down together again. Only this time I will be the victor.
I actually thought I had beaten it in the past, but like Eric, didn’t manage to do it in the end. It was while replaying it for this that I remembered how much I hated the section for the final boss where you need to fight tonnes of clones of yourself to protect your wife and child. I beat it this time, but I still really hate that section of the game. It is terrible.
So once again, I’ve been all over the place. Maybe Jonathan Hallée can somehow once again sum up my own opinion on this game:
I don’t even know why I put God of War on this list. I don’t think I’ve done more than watch someone play. The PS2 was full of hack ‘n slash games and God of War is the one that managed to attain the status of a franchise (along with Devil May Cry). The gore, the blood mixed with the action and that ever important feeling of being more powerful than a god. Is it my type of game? No, not really. Too violent for me. Is it a necessary part of every PS2 library? Absolutely.
Anyway, I may not love God of War, but if you own a PS2, you need to play this game at least once, and as Eric Hunter said, it really was a huge step forward for the genre, despite my criticism. It gets to keep it’s place on my personal Game Overkill list, though somewhat reluctantly. Overall, God of War found itself in 161st place. It just barely made the cut (there will be 162 games to made the cut), which is probably exactly where I think it should be, but what do you think? Does God of War deserve to be considered a retro game everyone should play at least once? Should it have been higher? Do you have any fond or painful memories to share?
In the meantime, the next game to be featured here will be Doom. I’m already well underway with my playthrough, but there’s still plenty of time for you to join in and play along with me. After Doom, I’ll be playing… Super Mario Bros.