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by Ethos

Sunday Soapbox: Why Riddles Sucks

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

soapboxArgh, can’t I take a short break once in a while? I even did the leg-work. I was able to snag a preview copy of God of War III for a weekend, so I beat it in that time and had a review prepared for day one of this disastrous week. Our stats were up, our Final Fantasy XIII Week content was great, I thought it was all set. Wrong. I tell my sandbag of a partner, Riddles, that my girlfriend is coming into town for a few days and I won’t be around so much to provide supplementary material. He says that makes sense anyway since I’ve already beat the game, and he’ll be able to provide more real-time impressions. Great, right? Well the material for this week speaks for itself. I don’t know what his excuse is, I don’t want to know. I’m sure it’s something like “well, I was lonely without you, Ethos, I was too busy crying to write anything about God of War III even though I’ve been playing it.” Psshaw.

Well guess what? I’m back and I’m taking over, baby. Riddles didn’t want it to happen, but now he doesn’t get a say. Next week will be “Ethos Presents: Pokémon Silver Madness Extraordinaire Week!”, and the banner will be FUCKING HIDEOUS. That’s what you get when you abandon such a beautiful baby like Riddlethos.com.

Yes, this barely qualifies as a Sunday Soapbox, but this also barely qualified as a theme week. See you all next week when Scatter Storming and content in general will return.

Oh, Well… This is Embarrassing…

Saturday, March 20th, 2010

This week, I mean. This God of War III Week. Or whatever it was supposed to be.

What happened that made this week deserving of the Failboat award you see below? Good question; I’m actually not quite positive. Let’s play the blame game for a bit and see what we come up with.

First, I’d like to blame Square Enix for releasing Final Fantasy XIII a week before God of War III.

Second, I’d like to single out Sony for releasing God of War III a week after Final Fantasy XIII.

Third, myself for not actually finishing God of War II until… early Wednesday morning, I suppose.

Fourth, Ethos for eloping to la-la land and leaving us with mere teasings of Pokemon Platinum-whatever-it-is.

Sometimes, things just… don’t fall into place. It’s a bit of an odd phenomenon, really, because it never happens when you expect it to. Pseudo-throwaway weeks such as Winter Week impress, while God of War III Weeks fail miserably.

I mean, we started out pretty well – with a review of the game and all. And then… nothing. The failboat weighed anchor, and went boldly sailing down River Riddlethos.

…and somehow, I don’t think my weak metaphors are helping the situation. I mean, I guess what I’m sort of trying to say is that I’m sorry? I guess…?

I mean, I didn’t even have to write this. I could have gone to a party tonight, in which case you probably wouldn’t have heard from me for the remainder of the weekend.

Incidentally, and as you’ve gathered, I didn’t go. I’m not actually much of a party-person as it were. At least, not parties of the large and noisy variety. I tend to prefer smaller, more relaxed gatherings. Or solitude, solitude is nice as well.

But before this devolves into a channeling of my emo-tastic non-existent journal pages, I shall conclude this… uh, note.

Just in case anyone’s interested, I have indeed been playing God of War III. I’m about four hours in. If you’re lucky, maybe I’ll even write a little about it this weekend!

For now, I’m going to sleep. I have to be at work in seven hours.

All Aboard…

Friday, March 19th, 2010

Failboat

Where the fuck is Riddles?

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

I told the prick I’d be MIA most of this week. I gave the asshole heads up.
Now I think he’s avoiding me because he feels guilty.
We were on a roll, too!
Just for that, I’m posting the worst picture of the jerk ever. For now, I’m fucking exhausted, I hope you’re all loving the shit out of God of War III.
loliver

Sorry, no Scatter Storming

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

Nope! I’ve got a lot going on this week, so I’m not going to be around as much. But I’ve been consistent with the sucker, so you can forgive me. Let’s see if Riddles will resurface with his thoughts of God of War III. I’m curious to see if he’ll agree with me or not. But, because I feel bad, here’s a picture of an awesome frog.
frog

God of War III Week

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

This Theme Week on Riddlethos will include ongoing impressions of the title from Riddles, along with other regular features and antics found below. However, Ethos posted a full review earlier in the week. It can be found here.

God of War III? I beat that shit ages ago!

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

Onto the REAL game!
SoulSilver Box Art

Well, Shyit…

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

Hello, Riddlethosians. Your prodigal Riddles has returned.

As for why I haven’t shown my face around here for a few days, there are a few reasons: a) Muse came to Nashville last Monday, and b) I’ve been furiously playing God of War II.

Yes, God of War II. Not III, as the theme week might suggest. My personal gamer’s creed wouldn’t let me dive into the third without finishing its predecessor.

And, as of about thirty minutes ago – at 4:30 in the morning – I finally beat the damn thing.

Holy crap, that last part of the last boss was annoying. I know Ethos is the one who does most of the bitching about QTEs, but seriously… fuck QTEs. I died more times on that stupid final minigame than I did on the actual boss battle.

Oh, and the game is about five hours too long. As much fun as the gameplay is, it really does not hold up for fifteen goddamned hours.

But I’m complaining too much. It was a fun time, and certainly an improvement over the first – though hardly drastic. I enjoyed the greater variation in environments, and the art direction really is fantastic. Also, I’m forced to concede that the story actually caught my attention a few times – particularly the ending, which actually gave me chills due to its unparalleled badassery.

So, yeah, I guess I’ll be picking up the third one tomorrow, and subsequently getting with the program. The program, of course, being the theme week.

Remember, though, we already have a review of the game, courtesy of Ethos – just take a look below.

God of War III Review – Vengeance

Monday, March 15th, 2010

god of war 3 box artLIKED:
-When it looked absolutely incredible including the new stylized cutscenes
-Better weapons and Quick-Time Events
-Thorough and HD bonus content
-Some amazing boss battles

DISLIKED:
-The rest of the boss battles
-No matter how streamlined, Quick-Time Events still suck
-Weakest story of the trilogy
-Surprising lack of cool locales
-Some bizarre hand-holding

I’m a newbie to the God of War series. I got the Collection late last year, slowly beat the first one and then blasted through the second game in a few days in late February. And while I didn’t fall in love with the games like so many have, it was perfect timing to lead into the final instalment of the Kratos trilogy. And after completing all three games in under half a year, I found that God of War III managed to be the best in the series despite falling a little flat in a number of occasionally surprising areas.

First off, it’s important to note that when God of War III is at the top of its game, it is unstoppable. The opening sequence is beautifully choreographed, unbelievably epic, incredible looking, and perfectly paced. The game manages this feat in a few cases, but less often than the opening might have you believe.

But more on the downfalls later, because there are a few great choices made for Kratos’ finale. First, the control scheme was thankfully tinkered with a bit. A single magic attack is now tied to a specific weapon and mapped to the R2 button now. This leaves L2 free for the new addition of “items”. Items are tied to a third bar under health and magic, but instead of collecting item power through orbs, it automatically regenerates. This system allows for the introduction of a new abilities without necessarily ditching some of the classics, and all the abilities, items, and weapons are surprisingly easy and quick to access which is necessary for the pace of battle in God of War. And while this is largely a great system, and some new items are great and include providing a satisfying new way to treasure hunt, others are surprisingly gimmicky. I’m reminded of the new Prince of Persia in which Elika’s new “abilities” aren’t so much abilities, but are different animations triggered by finding a coloured platform. On a more positive note, it seems like Santa Monica Studio realized that the chains were always the best weapon in the first two installments, and made a few worthy imitations among Kratos’ weapon arsenal. For the first time in the series, I used an alternate weapon as my primary means of tearing enemies to shreds.

god_of_war_iii_profilelargeSpeaking of tearing enemies to shreds, God of War III is the most brutal game I’ve played. Granted, I never played Manhunt, but I like to think I have a fairly strong stomach and I turned my head in a few instances. But beyond occasionally going a bit too far, it does mean that the series retains its badass status. There are new ways to rip apart the bad guys, and even use them as battering rams, which is very satisfying. It was also nice to see fewer doors requiring button mashing and Quick Time Events streamlined to be noticeably less stupid; although still stupid.

Staying in the vein of good decisions for just a moment longer, God of War III sports the best puzzles of the series. Never getting too annoying or too easy, they feel more polished than the original’s frustrations or the sequel’s reliance on happenstance. The music also learns a lesson and finds the balance between epic and ambiance.

Finally, because the game is void of CG cutscenes and looks great doing it, God of War III tries to switch up some of the story-telling by using a new art style that makes me hard pressed to describe as anything but “really cool”. It’s a stylized cel-shaded look that is a welcome addition.

God of War-703932Well…most of the time. There is a section in the end that uses it in gameplay, and while it looks fantastic, it’s during a low point for the series. God of War III tries to place emphasis on perspective, occasionally letting you look through Kratos’ eyes or the eyes of his victims. The gimmick looks fine, but the focus was a bad idea. Kratos is a badass, but that’s where his strength of character stops. God of War III tries to introduce more story and themes than ever before, and while the personal approach works for a time, it is ultimately a definitive dud. Kratos is not a sympathetic character, and his arc in this game makes absolutely no sense and it makes for a very anti-climatic finish including a disappointing boss fight. In fact, excluding two incredible examples, the boss battles are disappointing in general. To compound the disappointment, none of the environments are really that interesting. After the sequel upped the ante, God of War III fails to introduce the same level of beautiful and intriguing environments, it just feels like a step backward.

And that’s the thing, although there were some good decisions made, they were still made within the God of War universe, and there was only so far the series could go before it started to feel stale. While the better puzzles, combat configuration, and occasional moments of spectacular visuals and scale are enough for me to call this the best game in the series, I’m glad it’s over for now, because the formula is aging when it wasn’t spectacular to start.

Final Thoughts
God of War III is a worthy conclusion to a, frankly, overrated action series. It’s still a lot of fun and will absolutely satisfy every fan of the series, but it’s a little annoying to see every good decision countered, while not fully delivering the boss battles and environments we all expected. Still, despite a story gone sour, it was nice to finally see Kratos’ insane antics have an impact on the world around him, and to also experience the game’s strong moments which were, admittedly, incredibly strong. A must for all God of War fans, and worth looking into if you own a PS3.

GoW3

Review Outline