Don’t you wish that you could slay mythical creatures and conquer the very gods that rule you? Well in 2005, you got your wish. God of War came out that year, with fast paced action, an interesting setting and more blood than a slaughterhouse could provide, Sony had another signature franchise on their hands. Franchises nearly always cause companies to churn out sequels and other content and God of War was no exception to this. Between 2005 and 2015 there were 11 things released varying between sequels, collection bundles or remasters of the games. It was very saturated and a lot of gamers just stopped caring and it somewhat faded away. At E3 this year we got a small peak of the gameplay of the fourth official game, simply titled God of War. Naming gripe aside, a lot of people had mixed opinions of it. But why? Well, we are going to have to look back at what the previous games were like to make a decision. Warning, this article is going to contain spoilers so if you are interested in playing the originals do so and just bookmark this for later and now without any further ado let’s begin.
The first God of War game came out 5 years after the release of the PlayStation 2. By this point the console was already very established and it was nearing the end of its general consumer life-cycle. Keep in mind the PlayStation 3 came out a year later. This game did a few things very well. Choosing ancient Greek mythology as a basis, gave the developers many liberties. Boss battles could be designed around already existing creatures with lots of reference material to go off. It’s also a theme that most people are somewhat aware of but not entirely familiar with, allowing them to shoehorn in things of interest for the clued-in player. Combat was also very impressive, it was extremely fast and fluid and every manoeuvre felt like it was done expertly and with immense amounts of power. This combined with the mythological creatures created some great synergy and some fantastic boss battles. The majority of the game’s combat you would be spamming buttons combinations quickly so do combos. Different button combinations did different attacks and new powers could be unlocked over time. The story while not great, did some interesting things and you feel somewhat connected to the main character Kratos, who is a spartan warrior who was given godlike powers by the god of war Aries. It opens with Kratos killing himself by throwing himself of a tall mountain into the rocky ocean below and flashes back to 2 weeks prior. The game is set between these moments. You learn of the resentment against Aries who used Kratos as a tool to slaughter, accidentally killing his family in process and leaving him with nightmares of what he has done. It’s brutal but does make him more human. Greek mythology is full of tales of tragic heroes, Hercules and Achilles being two examples and Kratos is no different. We don’t hate Kratos, our resentments align with him and his hatred of Aries. The game takes us through the mythological lands and we meet many gods and characters along the way. Athena, Poseidon and the Titans we get a glimpse of the world they exist in and effect. The game ends with Ares being overcome and Kratos gets the seat as the new god of war. It doesn’t end his nightmares though, he still has to live with that as a burden of past. All and all, they could have ended it there. A tight game with a story they wanted to tell but with the success it received that was never going to be the case.
God of War 2 came out two years later and it did the basic direct sequel thing and improved on everything that you would expect. The combat was better; more combinations, new powers and new enemies to fight. Many consider this to be one of the greatest PlayStation 2 games, it just did a lot right. It didn’t come without it’s flaws though, from the success of the first game they knew they could have a franchise on their hands. So the story ended with a twist that would be resolved in the next game. To summarise the story, Zeus kills Kratos because he is biased towards the Spartan armies and is helping them out too much. Kratos is saved from the underworld by a Titan. After helping him out, he uses time travel to return to when he was fatally stabbed, surprising Zeus and during the subsequent fight accidentally kills Athena, who tells Kratos that Zeus is his father. Not only is this cliche’d but the game’s story was just dull in comparison to the previous. So while it improved in some ways, other parts worsened.
The follow up, God of War 3 came out on the PlayStation 3 and again did the same things you expect from a direct sequel. It improved the graphics taking advantage of the new hardware, gameplay as well adding more combinations but also fancier looking quick time events.The games story ends which him killing Zeus, then committing seppuku (suicide by sword) and leaves the story ambiguous as to what happened to him.
At E3 this year Kratos’ fate was finally show and It turns out he took a trip north and ended up in scandinavia. People were hyped to finally see some of the gameplay from a series they had missed and yearned for. Initial reaction was quite positive and people were vocal on twitter about how cool it looked but over time opinion seems to be changing. The gameplay shown does not match that of the previous games. One reason is games have changed in 5 years, we’ve seen the witcher 3 come out and blow people away and the gameplay seems more similar to that than it does to its previous titles Goodbye to Kratos’ trusty chain blades, hello to magical battle axe and archery. Change is good but it wasn’t quite what a lot of people were expecting. Also we now say goodbye to the greek mythologies and are moving into norse mythology. They may explain it but one does wonder how both sets of gods managed to live side by side without any real contact with each other. We won’t really know for a while though, not much information is out on the new game and until that particular pandora’s box of secrets is open it’s impossible to judge the longevity and how successful this series will be.