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.
I 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.
If 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!