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March 25, 2008D. Riley

I don't really care for the God of War series. I've been fooled twice into purchasing their games and I've mostly learned my lesson. Even with all the hype surrounding Chains of Olympus I didn't let it shake me. But on restarting that Gamefly subscription and trying to fill out my queue, the game just started calling my name. I don't know why I keep doing it. They're sort of shockingly mediocre. Probably the only thing that Chains of Olympus truly excels at is being short. You don't notice some of the gaping flaws in its design since the game only lasts five hours.

God of War has had three separate directors across three separate games and yet each has cranked out a shockingly similar game. Almost any moment in any of the games in the series could just as easily fit in any of the other games. Some things like the stock undead soldiers and ripping the wings off harpies remain unchanged since day one. Some other things, like the ogres, have had minor cosmetic changes that totally make them a new monster, right guys? Kratos, who was genetically engineered to be the perfect anti-hero, is always moping around somewhere about having killed his family and YELLS ALL OF HIS DIALOGUE even if the person he's speaking too is totally calm and collected. Somewhere along the way it is very likely that he will stick a blade down a minotaur's throat.

Scratch that. It's very likely that he will do it thirty or forty times over the course of any single game.

Chains of Olympus does not have any minotaur throat stabbing (I guess they got tired of the animation), but it does have everything else that made people fall in love with the previous God of Wars. I'm not a fan, as I've said, so I can only offer my hypotheses about what makes people like these games. My best educated guess is that people really like those puzzles where you have to turn cranks but then enemies attack and while you're fighting them the crank slowly starts to reset to the neutral position. I figure this is what makes people like God of War games because there are like twenty of them in every single one that comes out. They also probably really like that Kratos has to go to the underworld in every game. Hell, in this one it seems like he goes to the underworld for no real reason other than he feels like it. Once he arrives he's all like 'well while I'm HERE I might as well visit the ghost of my daughter, who I murdered', but it's never really brought up before that. Also, if you'll let me venture one more guess: I think people just really like hitting the square button. And I mean they REALLY like hitting the square button. Like I bet if you asked any ten people on the street which was their favorite button to press, nine of them would choose square. The other guy would've talked about some lame button like "Obama for Prez in '08." That's when you know you're talking to a guy that doesn't even own a PS2. He probably has an Xbox.

People like hitting the square button. And that is a cold hard fact. I don't know why, but maybe it's because the square button is on the left side of the button array. On the PSP the square button is six to seven millimeters closer to the screen than the triangle button is. That's six or seven millimeters closer to THE ACTION. If you want to feel like you're having a hardcore good time (and if you've ever ripped the wings off a harpy in at least two of the three games that allow you to rip the wings off a harpy then I know you do) then nothing is going to get you there faster than the square button. I don't even know why they used the rest of the buttons on the controller. Frankly, I'm not even sure what they do. Well, I also know what the left trigger does, because pushing that lets you do more moves with the square button, but all the rest of them are right out. Even the circle button (hereafter referred to as the 'emergency harpy wing removal button') seems limited in its use compared to the mighty square.

Even its form is perfect. If I had to pick one shape from the PlayStation controller to bring me into battle, it'd be the square because it has pointy edges. Well, actually I guess I'd pick the triangle because that's like a spear and you could stab someone with it but if there was no triangle to pick, or if I had gotten there late like in the Pokemon TV show and my rival had already taken the triangle, I would definitely pick the square.

Kratos picked the square too, that's why it does all the best stuff. Who cares if the right trigger button controls your magic? Most of the magic in Chains of Olympus is the same as in the other games anyway. Just now Poseidon's Rage has been renamed The Efreet and neither of those were activated by pushing square so they're sort of moot to begin with. It's totally like the creators knew that nobody wanted to use the magic because the one they put on the square button totally sucks. It's a warning sign. It says "Hey buddy, why are you messing around with these fancy triggers when you've got a perfectly good square button waiting for you at home?" And that's like in the movies where the guy awakens from his alcoholic stupor and realizes he's got a super-hot wife at home and he doesn't need to spend his nights cruising for bar trash.

Kratos had a super-hot wife too, but he killed her in a fit of blood-rage.

But that's okay! His "messy divorce" just frees him up to have sexy three-ways (some people call it 'ménage à trois' which is French for 'topless girl on girl sex') in every one of his games. I'll give you one guess as to how you initiate those carnal orgies of pure pleasure.

Actually, you do that with the circle button.

Oh wait... now I'm confused.

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8 comments for ‘God of War: Chains of Olympus’

#1 Mitchell Dyer Mar 26, 2008 04:44am

I had the same issue with the repeated, singular button mashing. Worse yet was the circle button, which was an instant-kill for nearly every baddie. There was never a reason to hit the square key, because "O" just got the job done more quickly.

And god damn if I 'ain't tired of enemies thwacking me when turning cranks - why is this the only time I ever take damage? Otherwise they just stand in a corner waiting for me to grab 'em. Snooze.

#2 WholeFnShow Mar 26, 2008 12:54pm

....Dang. That hurt to read a little. I've always personally coined the first GoW game as Diet Devil May Cry. I never touched the second, so I really didn't know that they just effin repeated so much. Bothersome, to say the least. But, guess you gotta give the people what they want. And as you've quite fervently proven, it's gotta be that there box lookin dealie.

#3 Joel Mar 26, 2008 10:15pm

I have never played a single God of War game but I have never had the desire to either. This game looked interesting, but Dave swore me off it for life. He was like a before and after meth poster. Before GoW he was an optimistic action game fan. Afterwards he was a toothless yokel with lesion on his face.

#4 unitdaisy Mar 31, 2008 12:34pm

See now, I would have thought the 'Obama for Prez in '08' guy owned a Wii. It's the system of that most represents Change. Ooo now I need to go make an Obama Mii!

#5 UnexplainedDemonArm Apr 2, 2008 09:33am

Thank you, thank you, thank you for speaking out amongst the veritable deluge of praise for these utterly mediocre games.

Agreed, _playing_ the first God of War felt like _watching_ Devil May Cry. No connect between stylish moves and the player's skill.

#6 harry Apr 2, 2008 12:11pm

Long version:

The God of War series shows remarkable depth in its combat system. The seemingly random button mashing, when examined closer, turns into a series of intricate attack combinations over which an experienced player can have full control.

Every attack launched requires a tactical decision in balancing its speed, power and reaction time, as well as its ability to "flow into" following strikes to create special combos.

While it's certainly possible to finish the game (on Normal anyway) using only your beloved square button, it is infinitely more rewarding to learn and eventually master the power of the triangle, circle, cross and shoulderpads.

Short version:

U sux.

#7 D. Riley Apr 2, 2008 06:41pm

I would counter that when compared to even the more simplistic of the top tier action games (Devil May Cry 1) God of War doesn't even have half a leg to stand on. There's basically nothing in the way of canceling, what little combos exist are entirely canned, and the enemy movelist/AI is basically non-existent (enemies with more than one attack are the exception in God of War, not the norm). Encounters with larger enemies (ogres, minotaurs) are basically grind-fests where gigantic health bars and your inability to make them flinch replace any kind of skill.

God of War sacrifices all complexity for mass market appeal. If that's your kind of game that's fine, but don't act like there's any sort of depth where there's clearly none.

That the game HAS a combo system doesn't mean it's automatically a good one. I'd argue that God of War's is barely serviceable. The cherry on top is that the series has maintained this level of mediocrity since the first game and people keep buying them.

#8 MetalLink1979 Dec 14, 2008 05:12pm

I love how the superfluous three-way sequences from every game only service to create even larger holes in Kratos' hamfisted anti-hero character. Why is he sleeping with other women if he was so devoted to his wife while she was a live, and mournful for her after she was killed. When was the last time you found an indentured widower having a three-way? It's not characterization, it's a plot hole. Also, David Jaffe is an idiot who's only outstanding trait is how devoted he is to being a dick to every journalist he finds.