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Hero-of-Time

God of War Collection

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Posted (edited)

First post in this thread in a bit over 12 years? Well, guess this calls for a slam more than it does a bump

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I've outlined this elsewhere, but one of my gaming goals for the year is to play through all of the God of War series (well, the stuff that matters, so no, not the text-based Facebook Messenger game which was apparently a thing) in preparation for Ragnarök's arrival in November. With us getting the solid release date for that game early last month and me picking up everything I needed to play through the series last month, earlier today I booted up the first God of War

I played 15 minutes or so of this a few months ago testing out how PlayStation Now was on PS5 (which was fine, but I'd rather just play the game from the console or disc rather than stream it), which definitely set my expectations somewhat for the game, and today I've put in a few hours, and have just arrived at the Temple of the Oracle in Athens. As always, before jumping in: I'll probably have more middling and negative stuff to list off in this first post. I almost always do. It's very hard to not notice these things playing through some games for the first time! 

Let's start with the positives: this game feels fantastic. I love how fluid the combat is (even if, a lot of the time, I think it boils down to ye olde classic Square, Square, Triangle – at least it has so far), I'm a big fan of the variety of animations Kratos uses in combat, and I'm really enjoying stringing together long combos (I've not really played too many character action or combo-based games like this for a long time, maybe since I had a PS2? So it's definitely hitting that nostalgia spot for me). I have no real idea what's going on story wise, but hey, that's fine by me, because I'm just here to have fun and see what still holds up about this game. I wasn't expecting a skills-based "magic" system in this game, so I've had a lot of fun using those in general combat as I've picked them up, especially on the few occasions where it's been called for in puzzles so far. I also just really like the architecture and design ethos of the game, there have been a few times already where I feel like I've had a few options on which way to go, but I'm not really going out of my way to do and see as much as I can in this game (trying to take a break from that mindset...for now), and I think every single time I've come to some fork in the road, my gut instinct - clearly informed by some subtle design decisions - has pointed me in the right direction without fail. I also really enjoyed the first boss fight (even if it did take me a moment to clock onto what it wanted me to do because I don't think the framing of the battle does a great job of really setting you odd in the right direction), though similar to most enemies in the game so far, it definitely felt like more of a sponge than it needed to be. 

Now, there are some negatives, but I don't think they're necessarily bad things about the game itself, but just ways it's showing its age. Like it's camera. Man, I hate some cameras in games, especially fixed perspective cameras like the ones you got in MGS2, but at least those were consistent; this game jumps pretty freely from behind-the-back to fixed angle to another fixed angle to swinging around to another fixed angle to a wide shot and...man, it's super disorienting, not in the sense that I'm getting lost, but in the sense that it's making me physically feel uneasy at times (in fairness, it's super hot - I wonder what Kratos would do if the Greek Gods were pushing humanity off the brink through global warming? - which is definitely compounding that feeling, but I think it would still be there regardless).

Aside from the general uneasiness of jumping between angles at this game's every whim, the camera just creates inconsistencies in how you approach things, for instance the age-old "you're tiptoeing across a ledge/beam/whatever, so let's change the angle while you're doing that and have you need to actually adjust your character's movement based on the angle we go to, and no you can't continue with the input you were using before", one of my absolute biggest pet peeves in gaming. I'll adjust, I'm sure, but it's stuff like this which I thinks makes some 3D games so much harder to go back to (I actually thought this game was older than it was before booting it up, so it's funny that this approach was taken in a game released towards the end of the generation where I feel it was mostly figured out?). 

And then there are just some general curiosities to the game, decisions which aren't really negatives to the game, but are certainly decisions made at the time which I'm not sure they'd stand by today. Such as the sex mini-game – that sure was a choice, and that sure was a thing, and I'm not really sure what to make of it, though I did find it hilarious that the top halves of these women in the cutscene prior to the mini-game being made accessible made them look like they were a generation ahead of Kratos on a purely technical perspective, you can see where the priorities were for that short moment in the game :laughing: more curiously: R2 to interact with and open things, but even weirder than that, mashing R2 to lift heavy doors/gates – this has to be one of the weirdest feeling QTE-style inputs ever, especially with just how much the DualShock 3's triggers can travel when compared with the triggers of the DualShock 2. And also, right stick to dodge/roll? Man, again, just feels super weird, and definitely took some getting used to!

Anyways, looking forward to putting some more time into the game tomorrow, hopefully I'll get to take on some more bosses and adjust to the camera a bit more! Maybe? Possibly? Who am I kidding, probably not :p

Edited by Julius
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Well, that's a wrap on God of War. God of War? More like God of QTEs or God of Puzzles, amirite?

(Yeah I'm right but it was still good fun :p)

I put a fair chunk of time into it yesterday (not sure what else you're really meant to do in this heat!), and probably could have beaten it last night...but it was late once I got to the final stretch of Hades, so I finished it off this morning. 

I had a lot of fun to with this game, from it's fluid combat, to learning fun combos (yeah, Square, Square, Triangle is reliable, but it's not the most fun and stylish way to go about playing), and using new weapons and powers as you get deeper into the game; I really enjoyed using Poseidon's Rage early on, but once I got my hands on Army of Hades, that quickly became my default magic of choice when I felt I needed to use something reliable (I ended up maxing it out, alongside the Blades of Chaos). I also really enjoyed swinging around the much bulkier and harder-hitting Blade of Artemis, to the point that the Blades of Chaos definitely took a backseat in the second half of the game or so.

The music was good - nothing stood out too much, other than a part of the Hades music sounding like it was halfway to Baldur's Theme, which was almost certainly a coincidence but a weirdly nice thing to spot - and well, while the story wasn't a strong point, it was functional, but what I really enjoyed about it was the presentation you'd get with the flashbacks having something unique or interesting going on. I've said it before, but I also liked the scale of the game, it felt big, but never too big. Also, while I'm sure this is more down to sharing influences from something like The Legend of Zelda, I definitely got Dark Souls and ICO vibes from the game at times, whether it be it's interconnectedness (a few times I audibly went "oh, okay, we're doing this?" Escaping Hades and Amphitrite's Chamber were probably the best examples of this), it's atmosphere, and especially in its creature design (the Minotaur boss reminded me a whole lot of the Capra Demon) and some of its architecture (Mount Olympus and Athens definitely went to the same school as Anor Londo's design philosophy) when compared with Dark Souls.

I loved that Minotaur boss fight, I think it's pretty easily the best one in the game from both a design and gameplay perspective, took me a couple of attempts! I definitely came away genuinely understanding why no-one ever got to Pandora's Box between the puzzles, bosses, and the traps :laughing: also, that reminds me, before I forget: this game has a load of great and fun puzzles, and many of them felt unique! I think there's a really fine line to ride with puzzles in games like this where you need to balance a player knowing what the game is asking of them, and then knowing how to execute said ask (which becomes more complex the more tools are at their disposal), which is a really hard balance to strike I find, so kudos to the folks at Santa Monica back in the day who worked on some of these puzzles.

I mean, just as a quick point of comparison: I mentioned Zelda before and actually played Ocarina of Time earlier this year, and while I'll probably get around to talking about it in a bit more depth at some point, my problem with some of the puzzles in that game is not that they were difficult, but that I found myself with so many tools at my disposal that I found myself overthinking the puzzle a lot of the time, only to then realise more often than not that the simplest solution was what the game was asking me execute. Hell, sometimes I didn't even know what the game was asking me to do. For me, I think that's one of the tougher parts of that game to understand going back to it for the first time today: whereas Breath of the Wild gives you a bunch of tools and you're free to experiment and probably find a few ways to complete a puzzle, Ocarina of Time has a few too many tools for the number of solutions it's ready for (which is normally just the one). 

Anyways, that was a slight detour, so back to God of War: as for the not-so-good, I'll double down on the camera being pretty woeful at times, especially any time you find yourself platforming towards the camera (which is both a camera and design failing I guess). Some parts of Hades were a nightmare because of this, not in the sense of it being hard or even that frustrating, but it just slowed the game down unnecessarily. Talking of slowing the game down unnecessarily, I don't get why some 70% of enemies have i) nearly as much health as they do and ii) respawn, I get that the game is a hack-and-slash, but it really just makes the game a bit long in the tooth at times. There are definitely exceptions to this where it's asking for more than just going on a killing spree (I really liked the Cerberus fight at the start of the Challenge of Poseidon, needing to learn to manage the pups so that they don't Digivolve into full-on beasts), but most of the time it just wants you to kind of aimlessly kill, which just becomes a bit boring - despite a fun combat system! - when some standard weaker enemies take a while to defeat and can then respawn(/are replaced?).

As a minor and unrelated nitpick, there were a couple of times where the sound mixing was way off and the music made the in-game sounds or dialogue virtually inaudible despite being fine the rest of the time, and the worst case of this for me was down in the Floor of Spears™ puzzle room where the sound of the spears winding up to destroy your feet is supposed to give you an idea of how long you've got left before they, well, do that and kill you. 

Lastly: I thought the final boss fight section was pretty weird, and, for me, a big step down from the highs of the Minotaur, especially given that the entire game has been building up to this confrontation.

The first phase with Ares was so laughable I had to check if I'd put the difficulty down by accident, because just summoning the Army of Hades and using a spin attack had him down in the space of about 10-15 seconds. The second phase taking on your past was fine, but the third phase of the fight - and the second phase of actually fighting Ares - was just weird in that you're stripped of your weapons, all of the abilities you've earned, and instead you're slowly swinging around this heavy sword. The camera is different for this fight than all of the other fights you've been in throughout the game pretty much, and the game becomes a 3D arena fighter with health bars? Maybe it's just me but I hate when games do things like this, trying to go for some epic sense of scale to serve the story, but at the cost of sacrificing the game in the way you've been playing for 8 hours up until this point! Just...I'm sure there are those who are fans of this, but doesn't get a pass from me :nono:

This game was good dumb fun, with some great puzzles, boss fights, and combat, aged now a good bit by its camera and things like enemies having too much health/respawning which just stretched some standard encounters out a bit too long for my liking. I enjoyed it, but hopefully I'll see how its sequel improved at some time in the next few weeks :peace:

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4 minutes ago, Julius said:

The music was good - nothing stood out too much

whatever-shrug.gif

 

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Posted (edited)
47 minutes ago, drahkon said:

whatever-shrug.gif

 

I mean, I did say there was good stuff! :laughing:

I guess to clarify what I mean: when a track stands out to me in a game I'll normally go out of my way to look it up. The only track I looked during my playthrough was Deliverance from God of War (2018), and that was just to compare it with the Hades track. 

It has good tracks, just nothing which made me pull out my phone and look them up. I think that's where my bar is these days for standout tracks, hopefully II makes me pull out my phone and go music hunting :p

44 minutes ago, drahkon said:

By the way, @Julius, will you tackle the Challenge of the Gods?

I'm not planning to right now, just because if I did I'd probably end up committing to going for the Platinum, and I'm trying to wean myself off the Plat/completionist mentality at the moment and just enjoy games a bit more and play more.

Obviously not to say that they're mutually exclusive, but my desire to do that comes and goes I guess, and I definitely found myself feeling a bit exhausted by it after getting the Platinum for TLOU last month. I think I've got more Platinums than I ever have before by this point in the year, not counting upgrades I think I'm at 5? 3 of which were 100+ hour endeavours, and while I'm sure there'll be a couple more I might Plat before the year is up I definitely need a rest from it where I feel I can get it. 

So basically: not for now, but if/when I ever come back to Plat this game, I'll be checking it out for sure! :p

Edited by Julius

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Posted (edited)

Glad you enjoyed it @Julius.  It's a very solid game.  Not perfect by any means, but definitely a good time (and yes, I agree with you about the music.  It's fine, but there's nothing there that I'd want to stick in my music library and listen to on my phone).

Did you check out the museum you unlock after beating the game? It's really cool and shows off some beta models & enemy concepts that were scrapped! Really neat! Wish more games did stuff like this :D

Edited by Dcubed
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Good to see you enjoyed your time with the first game, @Julius. It's certainly a little rough around the edges in comparison to the other games, not to mention a lot shorter, but it nicely sets up the series. 

The control scheme didn't bother me, but then I played them all at the time of their release. Going back to them now I imagine it may be a little jarring. A bit like playing the PS2 GTA games. It takes some getting used to playing games from an older era after being used to using what are mostly standardised controls these days.

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1 hour ago, Hero-of-Time said:

The control scheme didn't bother me, but then I played them all at the time of their release. Going back to them now I imagine it may be a little jarring. A bit like playing the PS2 GTA games. It takes some getting used to playing games from an older era after being used to using what are mostly standardised controls these days.

Yeah I wouldn't say the control scheme bothered me, so much as it was a point of curiosity as, at least from the PS2 games I've played, it felt like most of the curiosities with controls were hashed out in those earlier years in the generation. This game's controls just felt positionally older than the game is? I think right stick to dodge was just odd because of the camera angle compared to a lot of other games I feel use it, which I think normally have a higher positioned camera (it's definitely a little odd to be using it when the camera swings down to be behind or around Kratos), and jamming R2 for QTEs was odd I think just because of the range of the thing on the DualShock 3 compared to the DualShock 2?

I think I was over it in the sense that I could play the game by my second session without really needing to think about it, but those two things stood out – there are definitely some other games with odd control schemes from that generation which have taken some time to adjust to, I think it's just God of War's age relative to them which made it really stick out to me and make it feel older than it is. Never a big issue but more of a "huh, right stick to dodge? Jam R2 to open a chest? That's certainly a choice." :laughing:

The camera bothered me though, I hope and expect that gets better in God of War II. I wasn't too surprised by that to be fair, there's definitely a scale of camera quality and control which fluctuates a fair bit in that generation (probably a hangover from PS1 titles in the case of many sequels), and in all fairness God of War does some really cool cinematic stuff with its camera in cutscenes to compensate for that a little bit. It's pretty crazy to contrast cameras in 3D games and realise that some of the earliest big examples, like Super Mario 64 and Ocarina of Time, hold up much better in my opinion than in games that followed them; think that just retroactively justifies Nintendo's approach to game feel helping some of their games age more gracefully. 

Speaking of today's standardised controls in games (and just trends of nuances which carry over a lot in general), I do wonder if/when things change up, how some of today's games are going to feel in the future for people who will be coming back and playing them for the first time. I can already imagine the over-the-shoulder third-person camera in games like God of War and The Last of Us being considered as making the game feel sluggish or slow, or the patched in lock-on for Ghost of Tsushima is Up on the D-pad and that's definitely an oddity for a game like that I feel. Now I'm going to spend the rest of the day thinking of more examples :p

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I do agree that right stick to dodge isn't particularily great.  It works, but it doesn't feel especially good.

The PSP games changed this to having you hold down the L&R buttons while pushing the left stick to dodge and it actually feels much better than the original PS2 control scheme!  A great example of how less can sometimes be more (much like how the GBA Metroid games ended up improving dramatically on the control scheme from Super Metroid, despite/because of the loss of the X/Y face buttons).

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