Sunday Soapbox: Accepted Idiocy

If you all keep up with the best feature on the entire site, Scatter Storming, you’ll know that I just (basically) started and finished the God of War Collection version of God of War 2 over the past few days. I’m not going to revisit my impressions, but know that they were generally quite positive.

god-of-war-collection-funI give that warning because the issues I have with the God of War series rattle me to my core as a gamer. God of War 2 ups the ante with better puzzles, better environments while maintaining its deep combat, but then beats the player over the head with absolutely inane mechanics. I understand that there needs to be a visual response to prove that Kratos is a badass, but holding the R1 button to watch a short treasure chest opening animation sets the mood without the necessity to button-mash just to open most of the doors. Hastening the inevitable arrival of arthritis to my hands really doesn’t make me feel like Kratos is really strong, but just cramps my hand and makes me really annoyed. There isn’t a single thing about the mechanic that adds anything to the experience. It’s not thematically relevant, it doesn’t require skill, it doesn’t require choice, it doesn’t add depth to the story or mood, it’s just flat out annoying as shit. I’m aware that the timing is a factor in some time-based puzzles, but there are better ways – that the game actually employs on occasion – to add an intense finale to such a type of puzzle.

god-of-war-collection-colossusIf that’s not bad enough, the series decides to maintain its absolutely idiotic quick-time event mechanic. It needs to go, no question. Especially because the second game actually has better boss fights that require some thinking to defeat, so there’s more to them than just slashing away on easy mode. That should be the sort of trial and error that large battles require: educated guesses on how to find a clever way to the boss’ weak spot. Definitely NOT missing a quick button press or mash resulting in instant death and a rematch. After using skill and deductive thinking to defeat an enemy, it is counter intuitive to rest the outcome on a semi-randomly generated quick-time event. Darksiders got it right when after a well-fought battle, you were treated to a God of War-esque brutal kill animation, except that it was a reward. You were able to actually watch the kill play out and feel like you earned it, not be too focused on goddamn mother fucking quick time events to appreciate the awesomeness of the sequence.

The strange thing is that God of War seems to be praised for popularizing this “technique”. Chris Roper of IGN’s review of the second game mentions the switch to the circle button instead of R1 for opening doors, but doesn’t cite either as a detriment to the gameplay, and there isn’t even a cautionary mention in the closing comments or subscore summaries. Just because the rest of the game is really well put together does not excuse such asinine mechanics. I will go as far to say that it is the anti-gaming mechanic.

Well that’s it for my first Sunday Soapbox. It’s fun to let my already annoyingly strong opinions loose!

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6 Responses to “Sunday Soapbox: Accepted Idiocy”

  1. SiliconNooB says:

    If GoWIII sticks with QTEs, then I would at least like them to be better integrated like in Heavy Rain where they actually feel like an intuitive part of core gameplay, as opposed to a disconnected superfluous mechanic overlaying a cutscene …

  2. Ethos says:

    Agreed. Heavy Rain surprised me with the QTE functionality. While I’m still not a fan during the fight scenes, it at least makes more sense, and messing up changes the game accordingly and doesn’t make you start over.

  3. DarthGibblet says:

    I haven’t played Heavy Rain yet, so I can’t really comment on those cutscenes are integrated, but it seems like Ethos had the same problem I so regularly have with the GoW series. For all the work they put into having the boss battles end in such an epic fashion, they sure go out of their way to make you don’t see it. Whenever I’m finishing a GoW boss, I’m always so fixated on scanning for buttons I can’t actually process what’s happening in the game. Glad to hear that Darksiders handles it differently. I still want to go back and play that game at some point, probably closer to summer when the stream of new releases dies down a bit again.

    The whole aspect of holding/mashing buttons to open doors and chests I can kind of understand. I don’t like it, but I can at least see where the developers were coming from when they added it in. In my opinion, it does make things that would be mundane a little more visceral. I don’t, however, think they need to be visceral. Both them and the QTEs in boss battles seem to reflect the design philosophy of “never let the player sit idle (except for cutscenes).” Personally, though, I like sitting idle sometimes and just watching as things unfold. Guess it’s just a personal preference, though.

  4. SiliconNooB says:

    IMO the advent of QTE can be laid solely at the feet of people that can’t watch a cutscene for more than a couple of minutes without having a cry about not having anything to control; QTE is the devs ploy to turn cutscenes into gameplay, superficial as it is …

  5. Ethos says:

    @Darth – Then at least let the button mashing speed control the speed of the animation. Kratos opens the door at the exact same speed no matter how fast or slow you mash the circle button. The holding for the chests, I’m okay with.

  6. DarthGibblet says:

    @Ethos: Yeah, some type of input into what’s going on would be nice. Like you said in your original post, you’re really not getting anything out of this method feedback-wise that you wouldn’t get by just pressing a button. And as SN said, it’s more for the crowd that feel like pressing a button is “not interactive enough” or something. Personally, I like things to stay simple and, to an extent, minimal, but that’s not the design that GoW employs. It feels silly to say, but maybe one of the reasons i never got into the series is that it’s too much work (God, I’m a lazy fucker :F).

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