Review

God Of War: Ascension

The Gods Have Abandoned Us

Kratos returns in God Of War: Ascension, but it’s not the same Kratos anymore.

By Scott Jones • March 12, 2013

During the final moments of God Of War: Ascension, a villain attempts to strike a back-room deal with Kratos, the game’s lead character. “Offer us your loyalty,” the villain says, slithering about as villains typically do in God Of War games, “and you shall live in blissful illusion.” Sony’s Santa Monica studio, longtime keepers of the God Of War series, offer players the same deal: Let’s collectively pretend that this toothless, uninspired installment in the series—the fifth God Of War game in eight years—is better than it actually is, and we promise to keep the old Kratos train rolling along.

Back in 2005, the original game introduced us to the bare-pated Kratos, a man who, the first time we meet him, delivers a spoken suicide note—“The gods of Olympus have abandoned me. Now there is no hope”—and launches himself off the side of “the highest mountain in Greece,” leaving gamers to wonder how this moody depressive could possibly be our hero.

God Of War: Ascension

Kratos was a character who housed the neuroses of Woody Allen in a WWE wrestler’s body. Here was a character who had no love for anything, least of all himself. Kratos didn’t merely dispatch his foes; he didn’t politely chip away at their “life meters.” He outright annihilated his enemies, leaving their entrails and eyeballs strewn about, and, for good measure, a circle of scorched earth where they once stood. And thanks to the Bulfinch’s Mythology milieu, the God Of War games always had the added effect of making me feel smarter. Because names like “Ares” and “Athena” were always being bandied about as I fought the likes of the hydra, the games made me feel like I was participating in something that my 10th-grade English teacher might find appealing. Most importantly, instead of telling me how angry Kratos was feeling, the first God Of War game let me feel that anger. It traveled along my forearms like an electrical current. After some of the game’s more brutal battles, I could taste a satisfying bitterness on the back of my tongue.

Which is what makes God Of War: Ascension such a heartbreaker. Playing the game is akin to watching a 38-year-old, pre-Parkinson’s Muhammad Ali, still biting his lower lip and pretending to be held back by his entourage before his fight with the much sprier Larry Holmes. Over the 10 or so hours of the game’s creatively fallow single-player quest, I kept waiting for the real Kratos to appear and take the place of this hollow-eyed cipher who had hijacked his game. I wanted him to reclaim his old, deserved glory, the same way I wanted Ali to come through in 1980. Ali would go on to suffer a savage beating. Kratos fares better in Ascension, but he still winds up with the stink of failure on him.

God Of War: Ascension

The game’s boldest stroke comes in the form of an unlikely multiplayer mode—unlikely because “beat ’em up” games of this type don’t naturally lend themselves to online group play—which allows players to build their own Kratos-like warriors from scratch. Win or lose, the more you play, the more points you earn, and the more goodies you unlock, which can be used to trick out your warrior and to give you a leg up on the competition. During my time with the game, I unlocked the “Cloak Of Boreas” and a “Relic Of Protection.” Though it has its moments—parrying an opponent, which renders him temporarily vulnerable to your attacks, is particularly gratifying—multiplayer too frequently devolves into a cluster of ersatz Kratoses blindly whaling away at each other.

The paper-thin story revolves around Kratos’ battle with the Furies, a trio of floating witch women who are out to get him for some vague reason and who appear to be the distant cousins of a praying mantis. The game bills itself as a prequel, one that aspires—at least initially—to reveal some new information about Kratos’ past. It doesn’t. Instead, whatever grand narrative designs the game’s makers may have had at the outset go sailing out the window when the story nervously devolves into a series of ridiculous battles against increasingly ridiculous beasts.

There is The Giant Gila Monster That Emerges From The Decrepit Hand. There is The Giant Corpse Head With Spider Legs Surrounding Its Giant, Old Mouth. Everything is relentlessly super-sized in Ascension, as if every design problem the team encountered could be solved simply by making Kratos smaller and making his adversaries larger.

God Of War: Ascension

There is also no shortage of ugliness on display here, not only in the poorly designed puzzles, which made me feel like a crippled, half-blind flea trapped inside the works of a broken clock, but also in the game’s absurdist thrill-kill violence. Many of the “Finish him!” animations—like the “here, let me air out your brains, that’s better” moment when you take out a bipedal elephant man—no longer seem appropriately vengeful. Instead, they’ve lapsed into puerile sadism, turning an experience that was once a borderline sophisticated meditation on Greek mythology and revenge into an extended gross-out moment.

The final bit of bad news is that the misogyny that has always lurked in the background of the series steps into the spotlight in Ascension. The most egregious example occurs about halfway through the game. After defeating a female foe, Kratos continues to beat her mercilessly, delivering blow after unnecessary blow for no discernible reason. When it seems things can’t possibly get any uglier, a notification pops up on screen, indicating that you’ve “won” the PlayStation “Bros Before Hos” trophy. I would go on to complete the game after this, mostly out of a sense of professional obligation. But that was the moment when I would have parted ways with a series that I had previously revered. I’m left wondering if Kratos still knows the way back to top of the highest mountain in Greece.

God Of War: Ascension
Developer: SCE Santa Monica Studio
Publisher: Sony
Platform: PlayStation 3
Price: $60
Rating: M

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  • http://profile.yahoo.com/5ZA2TEOS6WNCQDPCMOCWYUR64I Nick

    There’s only so much stuff you can strip from greek mythology. The series needs to move in a new direction storywise, both in the mythology aspect and dipping into Kratos’s past concerning his family, again.
     Do we really need 3 prequels? I’m a casual fan, but I can assume most, casual and hardcore, would really rather have a proper sequel or start of a new trilogy then another prequel.

  • Spacemonkey Mafia

    I’ve only played God of War 3 and I was ceaselessly amazed by the rift between the beautiful, evocative environments and the ridiculously sweaty beef muppet that blade-sodomizes his way through them.
       Kratos is such a thin creation, seemingly birthed from a crack in John Milius’ head made in an attempt to relieve his hangover from the Conan wrap-party; but his games are these lovely, vast landscapes filled with really thoughtful detail.  And all so their surly king can sit at the center on his throne of a Bud-Light inflatable party chair, furiously masturbating to/ yelling at old Maude repeats.
       Of what little I’ve played, God of War cleanly encapsulates both what I love and despise most in video games.

    • rvb1023

       God of War appeals to the many bro-douches but, in a similar vein to the bland Call of Duty series is undeniably well made an designed games. I remember playing the first one back in 2005 and it always felt like a contemporary take on Zelda, shifts in violence and demographics and all. It’s just that somewhere along the line Kratos wasn’t charismatic enough to carry the games despite just how excellent the rest of the elements of the series are.

      I will agree with the general sentiment that the series has outstayed its welcome by this point, as I felt 3 was a little regurgitated back in 2010. Then again, I haven’t been able to get into a Zelda game since A Link to the Past, so maybe I’m just talking out my ass.

      I will probably pick this up for the $20 I bought the rest of them at if only so I can feel like I am good at an action game again, as recently beating hard mode on Revengeance with straight C’s humbled me a little bit.

    • George_Liquor

      These games remind me of incredibly well-crafted carnival rides: Exciting to watch, but almost entirely devoid of interactivity.

    • HobbesMkii

       I initially liked this for the Greek myth reference, but then I regretted it, because you compared Kratos to Athena and Milius to Zeus.

      • Spacemonkey Mafia

        I apologize if I’ve offended your faith.

        • HobbesMkii

          You laugh, but I’ve been rewatching Battlestar Galactica for the first time since it aired, and apparently polytheists are extremely touchy about their beliefs.

        • Spacemonkey Mafia

          @HobbesMkii:disqus   I guess it’s fair to think there’s an exponential capacity for outrage growth when dealing with multiple gods.
             Look how worked up all those folks get with just the one.

    • WinterFritz

      The first, I thought, gave Kratos all the motivation he needed, Ares fucked him over so he’s going to go fuck over Ares come hell or high water. That’s a narrative arc I can get behind. The problem was, the developers then decided people weren’t done fucking over Kratos and so they kept drawing from the same well and it became very stale. The death of his family, once an emotionally charged moment, became just so much background noise to all the blood and dismemberment. They tried to deal with that subject again in the 3rd, but Kratos had already dealt with it himself in the first.

      And then number 3 turned into Ragnarok and I was left thinking, if you wanted to make a Ragnarok game, why not use Norse mythology? Fuck, the world is filled with diverse and interesting mythology that could easily be the basis of an engrossing game, why do I keep having to deal with the same Greek stuff that you’ve already done to death (literally)? It bespeaks the dearth of true innovation that tends to haunt AAA titles these days.

    • Citric

      I only played the first one, and I found it really boring actually. Lots of blood, violence and cranks, but I was never invested in it and it seemed like the spectacle was there to disguise a kind of bland center, like sparklers on a tub of vanilla yogurt.

      • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

        I haven’t played in a while, but I seem to recall it had a completely unnecessary magic skill component. All I remember was hack, hack, hack, QTE, hack, hack, QTE, gratuitous nudity, hack, hack, QTE. 

        • ToddG

          Oh, come on, the gratuitous nudity was way earlier than that.

        • LoadRanPimp420

           when you set the difficulty to “easy” you get an easy game.

    • Halloween_Jack

      the ridiculously sweaty beef muppet that blade-sodomizes his way through them.

      Just had to stop and pay homage to this phrase.

  • Citric

    Do you get to move a crank around in a circle over and over again?

    • caspiancomic

       No, you get to move a crank three quarters of an inch only to have a dozen enemies spawn and distract you while your crank returns to its default position.

      • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

        That sounds like a really complicated sexual metaphor. For…something.

        • HobbesMkii

          Sometimes when I’m cranking things, the thing it triggers triggers for no reason, often quite earlier than expected, which I find extremely embarrassing.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=579674289 Morgan Filbert

           Hobbes, premature ecrankulation is nothing to be ashamed of. It happens to lots of guys.

  • George_Liquor

    Oh boy, it’s a Giant Gila Monster reference!!

    I sing whenever I sing whenever I siiiiing!

    • fieldafar

      “Shut up! Shut up! SHUT UP!”

  • PiraticalTerror

    I literally stopped playing the first one because of all the sexism and misogyny. As a lady, I am already aware that I am not the prime demographic of any developers game, but I felt like I was a voyeur in an emotionally stunted male teen’s wet dream. The gameplay was good, and I love to kill me some giant monsters, but it wasn’t worth the icky feeling I got.

    Every time they make another one and people buy it, I feel sad.

    • The_Juggernaut_Bitch

       To be fair… Greek mythology is often extremely misogynistic by our standards.  It’s also, like most ancient (and not-so) mythology, stories about incredibly violent times, where lots of dudes *are* braining each other with spiked bats, cutting one another’s entrails out with copper or bronze swords and shit like that..

      • Spacemonkey Mafia

        But God of War is hardly an endeavor to recreate the great myths of Ancient Greece. Were that so, you’d play a level devoted to a furious tapestry-weaving contest.
        Given the liberties taken with the mythos, i.e., having every diety violently murdered by a lone psychopathic Pillsbury Dough-boy, there’s ample latitude to make the series less despicable to 50% percent of the population. Up to 75% if you include guys who for whatever reason aren’t into serial disembowlment.
        That said, that doesn’t mean Sony had to make the game any more palatable to gentler tastes, just saying that it’s hardly the nature of the source material that’s preventing them.

        • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

          Yeah, I think it’s ridiculous for artists to justify misogyny and racism in their works as “historically accurate” when the work contains so many anachronisms already.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=579674289 Morgan Filbert

          My god, I want that furious tapestry-weaving contest game!

          “God of Weave”

          Loomos, a Spartan tapestrist, is horrified to awaken to see that, after a night of furious tapestry-weaving he’s used the blood of his own wife and children in his masterpiece! Now using the twin needles of Techne he must seek vengeance.

          BEAT. Rugs to clean them!
          FINISH. Tapestries in both plain and weft style.
          DYE. Your works in all the colors of the viscera.

        • The_Juggernaut_Bitch

           I’m not saying the series went out of its way to depict the totality of Greek myths… it simply cherry-picked a few themes, cranked it up to 11, and then went with that, with some “cameos” from various mythological creatures and such.

          Though, interestingly enough, the Cyclops from the first one was originally going to have a penis, but the ESRB said “no, not in an M-rated game”… which shows you how fucked-up the ESRB is!

        • Citric

          @The_Juggernaut_Bitch:disqus  Yet, Dante’s Inferno gave Satan a penis. A great big floppy penis, flopping about.

        • HilariousNPC

          @facebook-579674289:disqus:

          Sorry, but you’re getting beaten to market by Loom Hero!

          Better with Kinect! (Comes with big plastic shuttle.)

        • LoadRanPimp420

           Yeah, but I remind you that this is a game for MATURE adults who should KNOW BETTER that social and morals standards are, you know, DIFFERENT these days. Its strict fantasy and guess what? Violence and sex play into any warm blooded male’s (or female’s for that matter, if somewhat less often) fantasy, and to pretend otherwise is ridiculous. Unless you fantasize about sitting in your house watching tv or something.

        • Spacemonkey Mafia

          @LoadRanPimp420:disqus 
             You miss the point of my post.  I am not discussing the value of nor the audience for God of War’s violence and reductive gender identity.
             I am saying that accrediting those traits of the game as fealty to Greek mythology is a mistaken premise.   

      • valondar

        I imagine Greek mythology has more nuance and characterization than these games, unless you want to suggest to me there’s women half as interesting as Euripides’ Medea in them.

        Besides God of War never had any interest in portraying Greek mythology accurately. It’s just a grab bag of public domain ideas for boss monsters.

        Besides, was there any misogyny in Titan Quest, the Greek mythology inspired Diablo-esque ARPG? Because if there was, I totally missed it, but then I didn’t play a lot of Titan Quest.

  • Christohper Exantus

    I think that’s why that Super Bowl ad is so fucking dumb: It tries to get us to feel all sorts of sympathetic towards Kratos because “wah wah wah–” his family is dead. Never mind, of course, that you can engage in a threesome (and as many times as you want, of course) in the very first game.

    Kratos is nothing more than a rage-man beating things to oblivion. The fact that they have managed to stretch that concept into 5+ games is beyond me.

  • Staggering Stew Bum

    And here we are with yet another game that refuses to turn the tables on the muscley superman kill machine hero stereotype. Kratos is a man full of out of control testosterone-fueled rage as all men are apparently, whose sole purpose is murder and mayhem. Why have a character with a real regular man’s body shape who experiences genuine emotional development, when you can just lazily show the same grizzled muscle man, killing other men, as men must do? I am personally sick of games using this tired archetype of bloodthirsty men who are merely a bunch of muscles to hang a gun or a sword off. It is further evidence of the widespread mansogyny in the video game industry. Impressionable young men are continually bombarded with images that give them unrealistic expectations of near-impossible physical perfection to try and live up to.

    -checks screenshot-

    Right, lady gets a nice blouse, dude looks like a Chippendale with blades chained to his arms.

    Fuck you SCE Santa Monica Studio. So tired. So lame. So old.

    If you need to know how to make a male character a mass murderer without Schwarzeneggaring him up, check in your own Sony-owned backyard and take a lesson from Nathan Drake or Cole MacGrath. Then try again.

    PS: I realise that my posts have become increasingly bitter about this. I apologise for that, I certainly don’t want to be that person. But when a game doesn’t think that murder and mayhem are good enough without big pecs, it just get’s so old.

    PPS: And Kratos still has no clue whatsoever about how to crouch.

    • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

      Even though you’re taking the piss here, the point you’re making is super-legitimate. Sexism and the consequent prescriptive gender roles it precipitates are a prison for both men and women (though, of course, women have historically gotten the shorter end of the stick).

      Just as the idea that women are to be demure, compliant, and sexually available has led to a history of women being forced into roles where they marry some boor who rapes a family out of them until they die in childbirth, the idea that masculinity must entail a penchant for physical violence has led to a history of men being conscripted into wars to be mutilated and killed for kings and causes that were often just as oppressive as the foes they were opposing.And even in cultural milieus where things don’t always play out in such a way anymore (though we forget how very recently they still did, and how in other places they still do), those mentalities still persist in more subtle forms of control and pressure that threaten everyone’s potential. If you’re a man, how can you ever fulfill your aggressive hunter-gatherer destiny of being breadwinner for your nuclear family if you go into a low-paying field like the arts, or go into “women’s work” like nursing or childcare? If you’re a woman, how can you fulfill your destiny of finding and marrying your prince if you go into an intensive time-demanding line of work like engineering or computer science, or go into “man’s work” as a soldier or police officer?

      Even as a young, white male who has ethnographically gotten the long end of pretty much every stick, I feel hampered by sexist conceptions of gender, the expectations they place on me and my (female and male) friends, and recognize how arbitrary and baseless they are. Consequently, it feels totally stupid when some idiot, speaking from a point of privilege, accuses feminists of attacking masculinity or whatever. That privilege doesn’t mean such idiocy is (arguably) excusable ignorance. I’m privileged as hell, and I realize how fucking stupid this gendered bullshit in pop culture is.

    • PaganPoet

      I dunno. I usually enjoy your dry sense of humor and snark, but this post in particular feels a little more antagonistic than usual. By parodying Effigy’s complaint about Dead Space 3 from a few weeks ago, you’re setting up a false parallel between the two situations that simply does not hold water. It reminds me a little too much of privileged people reflecting any kind of complaint or criticism (whether legitimate or not) raised by minorities. While I personally think Effigy might have been off the mark about that particular game, when you look at trends in game as a whole, she absolutely has a point.

      You actually raise a good point that Kratos being a muscular ball of rage testosterone is an unrealistic idealized male image, but the difference is…it’s still an immature male’s fantasy, not female. It’s a teenage boy’s idea of what it means to be strong and bad-ass. An immature female’s idealized male would be something closer to the men from the Twilight series; self-sacrificing sycophants who worship their lovers.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/5ZA2TEOS6WNCQDPCMOCWYUR64I Nick

        I commented last time on Effigy’s post which I thought was spot on, but unfair for the example of Dead Space 3. But yes, (if this gets confusing I’m agreeing with you) this is true. The game is totally designed as a power fantasy for boys to fuck shit up and kill things.

        I don’t really have a frame of reference, but I sincerely doubt that any girl is watching someone play God of War and, upon seeing Kratos tearing heads off and stabbing folks in the dicks, thinks “Oh god, this is hot.”

        • PaganPoet

          Maybe women of the Cult of Salome find it hot?

        • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

          That being said, I think @Staggering_Stew_Bum:disqus sort of has a point, even if it’s buried beneath layers of his patented Aussie snark. It’s important to distinguish between (male) power fantasy as author’s intent and (male) power fantasy as player’s experience. Designers may intend to provide male players with the opportunity to indulge their violent, macho fantasies by means of ultra-masculine, hyper-muscular avatars. However, a player may see those characters – that same type of character, repeated across games – and may begin to feel negatively about his own supposed “shortcomings.” Considering the amount of imagery of super-buff, top-tail-of-the-distribution men across many forms of media, to see that imagery in digital spaces as well can be detrimental to young men.

          I know it seems petty and weird to complain about this stuff – especially since I’m speaking from a position of male, heterosexual privilege here – but discussions of power fantasy almost always start and end at men being sexualized for their own benefit. However, there’s more to it than that. Rarely do we consider whether the male power fantasy actually benefits men, or heck, if they even desire it.

        • PaganPoet

          @Merve2:disqus That’s an excellent point. And re-reading SSB’s post with that in mind, I think you probably interpreted his intent better than I did.

    • Effigy_Power

      Did you just quote and not attribute me, biatch? ;)

  • OhHaiMark

    Say what you will but the first two God of War games are freaking amazing. 

    • Open_Source_Idiom

      The second, in particular, is pretty much pure spectacle and makes a pretty good meal out of an economy of narrative. I find that the lasting appeal of the first two games is how effective and yet minimal their narratives are. 

      Later sequels really started to drop the ball when they started to consider the character of Kratos beyond the purely archetypal, or tried to turn him into something a focus group deemed “acceptable” or “sympathetic”. That just rendered his ugliness and brutality more personal and repulsive. Fuck the constraints of a typical action movie narrative. It’s crap like that that has lovers break up in between games just so they can get back together in the sequel (everyone reading this can think of at least a handful examples, surely).

  • adam_pelican

    While I agree with the general sentiment that the “Bros Before Hos” achievement name is in ugly taste, the article’s very misleading about what actually happens. A quick YouTube search reveals that “Bros Before Hos” isn’t an achievement awarded for beating a female foe to a pulp, but rather for teaming up with another male protagonist in order to outwit a group of female goddesses. (Several minutes after the female in question has been defeated, and – incidentally – is revealed to be absolutely fine.)

    Obviously, this doesn’t change the fact that “Bros Before Hos” as a line in and of itself is precisely the kind of regrettable frat-boy, puerile stuff that people (apparently correctly) often associate with videogames, but the context is clearly different to that suggested by the article, which conjured up images in my mind of a kind of auditory exclamation mark used to punctuate and glorify a final, brutal blow dealt to a woman. If this were the case (as the article implies), the “Bros” would sound as though it were referring to Kratos and the (presumed male – again, one of the reasons it would be so distasteful) player, as though it were celebrating the comeraderie between player and protagonist in teaming up and blugeoning a woman. As it is, another male protagonist is introduced to the scene, and the achievement title is obviously referencing Kratos’s partnership with him and the general boys vs. girls dynamic of the situation in which you’re teaming up to outwit a group of women.

    Again, doesn’t really excuse anything, but I think the misleading linkage of the achievement title to a scene of horrible violence makes it sound a lot more spiteful and hateful than it actually is.

    • The_Juggernaut_Bitch

       Uhm…. considering he played that scene?  I’m not sure which is correct here, especially considering someone above mentioned that had been patched into something else so… who knows?

      • adam_pelican

        Possibly… But the entire clip is posted in full on YouTube (prior to the Bros Before Foes patch), so you can see where you get the achievement. It’s right at the end, and clearly has nothing to do with the fight. (But yeah, apologies if I’m missing something.)

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3L2de3ucLg

      • zerocrates

        The video does appear to pre-date the patch. Stories about the “upcoming” patch started to appear on the 11th, and the video is from the 10th. It also, clearly, has the original trophy name intact.

        It’s still not totally clear what the trophy is meant to be attached to, though. After the battle, we see another guy who seems to betray the Furies and side with Kratos. That would seem to make the most sense for the title to be attached to, but it is a trophy you get more or less immediately after regaining control after the described fight, and the name itself is objectionable standing alone.

        It does seem a little odd that this has gotten so much attention, given the God of War series’ history (gratuitous nudity, graphic and grisly murder of innocent women, major female mythological characters whose main in-game purpose is to provide a sexual interlude, complete with quick time events and experience rewards, etc).

        I agree with what some other people have said, that this is somewhat more of case of a changed attitude of the gamer and games media community than anything particularly out of left field in the game.

        But so what? If gamers and the media are taking a more critical eye to stuff like this that was previously ignored or accepted, that seems like a good thing. The adolescent boy’s mindset has run rampant over all of mainstream gaming for far too long.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia

      I’ve neither watched the video, played the game, nor downloaded the video, So I don’t know personally know anything about the achievement.  But here’s this:

         http://www.joystiq.com/2013/03/11/controversial-god-of-war-ascension-trophy-altered-in-upcoming-p/

  • doyourealize

    When I finished the third game (God of War 3), I remember hoping against hope they stopped making these games. What once was novel, as Scott points out, had become gratuitous. At one point in the first game (spoilers for the first three games follow), you’re forced to sacrifice a helpless prisoner by moving his cage in front of a spout of flame. I remember coming to the realization of what I had to do to keep moving forward, and marveling at what this small moment said about Kratos’s character, and during a bit of gameplay nonetheless, not some cinematic segue. In the third game, you’re forced to use Persephone’s body to stop a cranking wheel, which echoes that bit from the first game, though by this point it’s tired, and rather than wanting to see this tortured soul move forward, I found myself rooting for Persephone.

    The prequel (and I’m going by the review – I haven’t played it) could have attempted to explore the tortured soul version of Kratos rather than the misogynistic murdering bastard version. But it sounds like this game does nothing of sort, instead amplifying the behavior without the justification (however inadequate) he once had.

    • Steve McCoy

      Kratos is an unsympathetic Walter White.

      • https://twitter.com/tymcast Tyler Mills

        You clearly don’t know who you’re talking to, so let me clue you in: I am not in danger, Lysandra. I am the danger. A guy opens his door and gets stabbed, and you think that of me? No! I am the one who stabs! 

    • http://twitter.com/zhandlen Zack Handlen

      I remember playing GOWIII (having played but never actually beaten the previous two), and realizing it was just hearing the same joke over and over again: Kratos meets someone, [meaningless time-wasting], Kratos murders them. Every. Fucking. Time. After a while, it didn’t matter what had been done to his family, or who he was supposed to be, or the fact that the designers had done a few Wikipedia scans to get the mythology in the relative area of correctness. Either you were rooting against the protagonist, in which case why push the buttons at all? Or you were rooting for him, which is just nihilism, pure and simple. (There’s a kind of “we need to kill the gods to be free” moral if you’re willing to strain, but even that gets buried under the buckets of viscera and marginally creative fatalities the designers dole out in lieu of anything approaching a narrative.) I don’t need games to have a sophisticated emotional palate or rich sub-textual worlds to be effective, but I do need a bit more than thuggish slaughter with an eye-candy gore gloss. 

      EDIT: Okay, it’s not, like, the worst franchise ever, and I did appreciate the visceral sense of effort you got from working through all those hordes of enemies; and yeah, some of the visuals were pretty striking. Oh, and I gave up on GOW III (my roommate beat it, so I got to see the ending, which at least had the merits of following through on its intentions, I guess), but I did still download the Ascension demo, just for curiosity’s sake.

      • http://www.facebook.com/mjbrady Matthew J. Brady

        I feel like there’s at least a slight gesture toward the realization of the extremes of the horrible stuff Kratos gets up to in the series, but it doesn’t even rise to the level of commentary, and maybe just ended up in the games accidentally amidst all the awesome violence. There’s the aforementioned bit in the first game where you have to sacrifice a prisoner (and from what I remember, Kratos has a line during that scene in which he’s horrified by what he has to do), but by the third game (which I haven’t really played; I just saw one scene when a friend played it), there’s a bit when fighting one of the gods (Poseidon, I think) when the POV shifts to the victims eyes during the final blows, putting the player in the position of watching themselves be murdered by Kratos, or really by themselves. It’s kind of horrifying, and it seems like there’s a tiny bit of the game that’s gesturing toward making the player realize the brutality of their actions, but it gets lost among the rest of the nihilism. Eh, it’s something, I guess…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kevin-Johnson/501651 Kevin Johnson

    I’m really hit or miss on the God of War series.

    Like, every so often, I get into the mood to play a button-masher (or is it hack n’ slash? God damn game genres…) and God of War is usually right there waiting (and I’ve played Dante’s Inferno and both Darksiders, so if you think the misogyny and violence is portrayed differently in those games, well, there’s a bridge in Brooklyn I’d love to sell you.) As a game, the core controls are tight and work pretty well, especially in GoW2, despite its plot being pointless. I was surprised by how unrefined the controls were in GoW3, kinda reverting back to the shittiness of the original. I’m hoping this next one will have much tighter controls.

    But then, here’s the question: is the beat-em-up and hack-and-slash game doomed to its own violent/misogynistic tendencies? Think about it – in all of them, even back to the days of Final Fight and Double Dragon and Golden Axe, you play one or two characters essentially FIGHTIN’ ‘ROUND THE WORLD. There was a time when they didn’t include female characters because of the impression it left, but that kind of a controversy of its own (of course, since there were so few female protagonists as well, the question was moot).

    I guess it never really changed, other than adding blood and guts. I roll my eyes when Haggar suplexes some dude just as hard as when Kratos beats the piss out of someone to the point that the screen goes red with blood. It’s all kinda ridiculous (yeah, yeah, the degrees of the latter is way higher than the former), and it probably just comes with the territory of the genre.

    You’d think that a bit of self-awareness would be helpful, but then again, I’ve played No More Hereos for about 10 minutes before turning it off. By being meta, it just made the whole genre even more ridiculous and unplayable.

  • valondar

    I’ve never played a God of War game, but I do sort of feel I have in that I’ve played Darksiders. The story was some painfully dumb mishmash of Angelology that owed more to Blizzard Entertainment than its notional Christian inspirations where you played as, er, War, a big stoic hulking guy in heavy armour who was pretty much Arthas in full Death Knight mode. There were some okay puzzles in it, I guess, and the action was reasonably fluid, but I got stuck or bored, I forget which.

    Actual story was pretty bad though.

     

  • Haymz_Jetfield

    Isn’t making your multiplayer focused fourth game in a ‘trilogy’ just a tacit acknowledgement that whatever the main character faced in what should be the climax of the series was not in fact the most awesome or terrifying thing they’ve done battle with?

    (Also applies to the other game with the abbreviated as GOW coming out this month that they are also not convincing me to purchase or play.)

  • Mercenary_Security_number_4

    ““Bros Before Hos” trophy?  For beating someone up?

    Wow.  News sites are reporting that name will be changed in a future patch, but still . . . wow.

    I get the feeling (or at least the hope) that the video game industry is at a tipping point where this kind of frat humor is going to finally become unwelcome by game makers.  Already, of the three major consoles, only Sony would still be shortsighted enough to let that past muster.  That may be part and parcel of the fact that of the three Sony is also the one most committed to letting game developers have their own vision, but I refuse to believe that there can’t be a middle ground between the extremes of a game being focused-group to death and an incredibly tone-deaf decision like this.

    edit: good old Adam Sessler has an opinion on this.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=XjIpPUE8epA

    • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

      As far as I can tell, that’s the video that touched off the whole controversy. A look at the number of “thumbs down” on that video should tell you just how reluctant the gaming community is to confront gender issues. Four days later, people are still giving Sessler shit about it.

      Wake me up in 2253. Hopefully we’ll be past this troglodytic garbage by then.

      • Fluka

        Sure, but we’ll probably be busy discussing Humanist Privilege by then.  Future Youtube will be full of people complaining about the PC police forcing the Pro-Robot agenda down their throats.

        • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

          So now you’re going to tell me I’m a bad person for not letting Joker romance EDI, right? :P

        • Fluka

          @Merve2:disqus On the contrary!  EDI *claims* that her neurotoxin days are all behind her, but you just know that she’s meeting up with GLaDOS and SHODAN for brunch every Sunday.

        • PaganPoet

          @Merve2:disqus You did the right thing.

        • Effigy_Power

          And I had such a great Robama joke.

    • LoadRanPimp420

       oh please. if someone said “bros before hoes” in an R-Rated movie or South Park (or ANY primetime television show), no one would bat a fucking eyelash. Hoe is a derogatory term for females. the antagonist is a female. its a joke.

      • Christohper Exantus

         Considering that South Park is frequently satirical, and would probably make fun of how shitty of a statement “bros before hoes” is….

        Something tells me the developers for God of War weren’t as thoughtful. 

      • Mercenary_Security_number_4

         If someone in an R-rated movie or South Park or any primetime television show beat up a woman in as violent and graphic detail as God of War regularly does and then got award for putting “bros before hoes,” there would be all kind of outrage.  I agree that video games are often held to ridiculous standards, but God of war is one series where the violence regularly goes far beyond other mediums.  Which isn’t a reason to condemn it.  Sony and the developers thinking the violence is a good excuse for shallow sexist humor is enough to turn the stomach though, and would be in any medium. 

  • SergeantKabukiman

    That last paragraph made me really uncomfortable.

  • Eddie Ramirez

    God of War: Ascentially phoning it in.

  • http://twitter.com/kelrubin Kel Rubin

    Seriously Gameological Society don’t plagiarize Adam Sessler’s review.

    You do the same exact thing that he did misrepresenting “Bros Before Hoes”, the woman Kratos stomps on the ground ONCE is one of the big Antagonists of the game. Not only that but he didn’t harm her as it was an ILLUSION! She even mockingly laughs after getting stomped with his sandle. The reason why the trophy is called “Bros Before Hoes” is because a man rescues Kratos from being killed by the Furies.

    I agree that “Bros Before Hoes” is a very sexist phrase and shouldn’t be in the game and I’m happy that Sony patched it out. But this reviewer clearly didn’t play the fucking game because otherwise he’d know the actual context of the trophy.

    See the video for yourself, don’t take the word of “Gaming Journalists”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3L2de3ucLg

  • HilariousNPC

    Not to detract from the article here, but anytime someone uses “Bros before Hoes” in conversation, my mind immediately flashes to the episode where Gangstalicious debuts his new single “Homies over Hoes”, and Riley doesn’t realize that Gangstalicious is declaring that he’s homosexual.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0skGBMxAmWU

  • rvb1023

     http://www.destructoid.com/god-of-war-bros-before-hos-248381.phtml

    Jim Sterling’s take on the whole “Bros before Hos” thing, which I will also add at this time got patched out.

  • HobbesMkii

    For some reason the first thought that occurs to me is Michael Bay. I think he’s sexist, and as Transformers 2 demonstrated, unwittingly racist, and I thus avoid his movies like a particularly awful plague (that Biblical one that killed all the first-born sons, for instance). But I’m always surprised when people complain how they saw a Bay film and it was stupid, and sexist (and nowadays racist). That’s Bay’s modus operandi. Picasso worked in paint, Rodin chose clay, and Bay rolls around in the stereotypes and makes them into pies that he foists on people who will not eat that because it is clearly mostly worm feces.

    I see offense as sort of a “pedestrian gets hit by a car” situation. If they were walking in the crosswalk, and they looked both ways, and they had the walk signal and were mowed down, that’s definitely the driver’s fault and the driver should should be punished. But if the pedestrian jaywalked across the Interstate during the morning commute, well…they weren’t making very many healthy choices. It’s certainly fair to say, “well, that intersection ought to have a light,” or “the city should put a stop sign and a crosswalk there,” and go out and effect that change, but the driver can’t be held responsible. They were driving within the limits placed upon them by the law.

    That said, video games are in such a state that anyone with half a functioning brain is essentially being forced to jog across the rush hour Interstate while wearing ankle chains in any new release, so being run over is almost unavoidable.

    I guess what I’m saying (this is quite serious, by the way) is that you should not buy this game and criticize the content anyhow, similar to the way it’s entirely fair to criticize the contents of Mein Kampf without having read it. The contents are despicable, whether they’re first-hand accounts or secondary reporting. Because otherwise they’re just going to keep on milking this series for all it’s worth, like some sort of second-rate pseudo-Greek neanderthal Mario.

  • Staggering Stew Bum

    Pfft, you’re way too touchy. I’ve been playing Tomb Raider this week and after Lara slaughtered a small army of men to save her female crewmate I didn’t bat an eyelid when the “Chicks Before Dicks” trophy popped.

  • Samantha Allen

    If I recall correctly, didn’t God of War III also have a controversial trophy title when you use a woman to hold up a crank for a door that ends up crushing her?

  • George_Liquor

    I’ve never been able to get into this series. To me, the God Of War games are equal parts dull, repetitive combat and long, QTE-sprinkled cutscenes. They’re more fun to watch than play.

  • Naked Man Holding A Fudgesicle

    Another game company did set out to make a God of War style game which had a similar character in a different mythological setting. That game was Dante’s Inferno.

    Be careful what you kind of wish for.

    And there is no contrived reset button at the start of God of War II, it is more like a contrived repeatedly mash ‘□’ button.

  • caspiancomic

     I think there’s potential in having a sort of reverse character arc for a game protagonist, having him or her start off as a tragic figure encouraging player empathy, and having them finish their journey not redeemed, but as a twisted neurotic wreck who has been hollowed out and destroyed by bloodlust and revenge. Spec Ops: The Line did something similar recently. It would be an especially effective arc in a game, which usually requires the player to indulge in their violent impulses- slaughter your way to the top, and kill the king of the Gods, and all you’re left with is nothing- in the same way the character is alienated from his own soul, so too is the player alienated from the character.

    Do I think this is the deliberate and artistically driven character arc that was written for Kratos? No, I agree with you: I think Kratos as a character was best written in the first game, and became decreasingly engaging as the series went on. But still, the idea is pretty cool.

    I also really like your idea of having the God of War franchise have more of an Assassin’s Creed: Mythology Edition style of sequeling. If Kratos’ journey was essentially Greek Judgement Day, what other religious apocalypses could we possibly violently explore? Maybe we could slaughter our way through the Norse pantheon in a game about a one-man Ragnarok? Or- here’s a fun one- a God of War style trip to the Battle of Har Meggido?

  • LoadRanPimp420

     This is a reply to everyone else is this thread as much as you…

    I don’t see many (or ANY) diehard fans of this series, so I kind of want to put my two cents in as far as it’s appeal

    I love the God of War series and will buy them as long as they keep making them. For me, the appeal is equal parts gameplay and spectacle.

    Movies can’t really get away with pure style and spectacle because if you don’t make the audience care about the characters and what’s going on, then there’s no tension and the action is meaningless.  But video games CAN be purely style (as long as the gameplay is good) because YOU are overcoming the obstacles and challenges in the game. Just by the very fact that YOU are playing it, you are invested in the action.

    BUT the gameplay has to be good. and the gameplay in God of War is pretty fantastic.  I never understood people who complain that you “just mash ‘square’ the whole time,” Actually, i DO understand…I’m pretty sure they’re playing the game on ‘normal’ or ‘easy’ mode like a sissy-mary. When the difficulty ramps up, so does the strategy involved.  You have to know what enemies to deal with first as to prepare yourself for the next wave.  If you die, you start with the same health and magic you left yourself with at the beginning of the section, so you have to learn to play smart and ration. There’s a sequence in GOW3 where you’re stuck in a cube and you have to fight multiple waves in one go (pretty common). First, three sirens (or whatever) spawn. The moment you kill ONE, the second wave comes. So the best strategy is to keep track of which enemy you’re fighting, get them all down past their first QTE attack (each takes two), and THEN kill them off. this leaves you more room and less enemies to face when the next wave hits. This is an essential strategy to the WHOLE game. Also, when playing on the harder difficulties, learning the other moves and combos of the game become essential to success (not to mention looking cooler in the process). Game too repetitive? Ramp that difficulty up!

    Most classic beat-em ups require the same kind of strategy, but get a
    bad rep from people who pump quarters into the machine and mash their
    way to the end; never bothering to play smart and figure out the best way to deal with the onslaught of enemies and figure out how to block, avoid, and punish their attacks. If I were the developers of these games, I wouldnt even include a difficulty option. I think it dilutes the true goals and intentions of the games. But then people would criticize the game for being too hard and “cheap”. You can’t win.

    I’m pushing 30 and have been playing video games since I squirted out the womb. As I get older and find I have more responsibilities, I’ve narrowed it down to what I really want in a video game. And that is usually tight gameplay i can pick up and play and put down at my leisure….or play for hours if I want. GOW provides that

    Personally, I couldn’t give a shit about GOW’s storyline.  Or most video game stories for that matter. I know a lot of people want their games to be emotionally engrossing or whatever, but a lot of people still play games for the pure brutal difficulty and aesthetic appeal of it. If it looks cool and provides a challenge, then I’m there. whats NOT fun about facing and endless parade of titanic mythical monsters?

  • Al Buns

     The guy has always been angry and got angrier as time went on. If you had played GOW Ghost of Sparta you would understand why GOW2 played out the way it did. If you had actually paid attention to GOW2 you would have realized that he could only go back in time about one day and not years to save his family. Paying attention is key kiddo.

  • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

    Yep, they changed it to the actually-kind-of-clever “Bros before foes.” Unfortunately, this touched off a whole new storm of controversy, this time from people complaining about the “PC police.” *sigh* Do bro-gamers really get worked up about a Levenshtein distance of two characters?

  • George_Liquor

    I… guess that’s better?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/5ZA2TEOS6WNCQDPCMOCWYUR64I Nick

     Gamers in general take every opportunity to get worked up over anything.

  • fieldafar

    Damn PC police, going after console gamers.

  • Xyvir

    Sony considered several other options before landing on “Bros before foes.”

    Bros before bowsBros before Those
    Bros before propose
    Bros before XOXOsJoes before crowsNose before toes
    And my favorite:
    Cousteaus before Monroes

  • SaoirseRonanTheAccuser

    I’ve kind of fucking despised roughly 95% of ‘gamer culture’ for the last year – the Anita Sarkeesian thing, the rape threats, the whining that life is soooooo hard for white men… basically, outside of Gameological and a few childhood friends, I don’t talk to gamers anymore.  My blood pressure just can’t take it.

  • DrFlimFlam

    The subculture is terrible. I read that heart-warming story about the father who hacked Donkey Kong so his daughter could play as Pauline and save Mario. There was a comment somewhere about how someone wished his daughter would die so there would be one less feminist in the world.

    Somehow, these toolbags procreate. I don’t know how.

  • Bad Horse

    @DrFlimFlam I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.

  • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

    @yahoo-5ZA2TEOS6WNCQDPCMOCWYUR64I:disqus: Agreed. It’s not as if there was any pushback from Sony either. They didn’t claim to be making any sort of artistic statement with the trophy name. Some people got offended, Sony agreed it could be interpreted as such, and Sony changed the name of its own accord. There’s really no discussion to be had.

    @drflimflam:disqus: Whether or not you identify as a “feminist,” you can’t deny that he’s the coolest dad ever.

  • PaganPoet

    @drflimflam:disqus I read a similar story about a dad who hacked Wind Waker and basically made Link female so his daughter could see and play as a female hero.

  • valondar

     @drflimflam:disqus I remember reading an article about  Halo 4 actually making noise about curtailing the notoriously terrible Xbox Live harassment, and the comments were wall to wall complaints of how dare they interfere with the right of gamers to hurl slurs. And also that these slurs were a great way to prepare people for the real world.

    At this point nothing shocks me anymore.

  • DrFlimFlam

    I don’t know what scares people so much. I have mentioned at other places that my son sometimes wears his pink shirt to school, or that he loves My Little Pony, or that sometimes he wants a purse like mommy has, and some people have taken me to task for it as if it was so important to shove him down the bottomless pit of gender construction. Men and women are different, and it’s already bothering me when he says something is for girls, or for boys, when he should get to decide what he does or doesn’t like. I believe the only way to be happy is to be yourself and not deny who you are, and the way we try to tell children from such a young age what that should be is frightening. I’m not saying I’m perfect at it; I got him into baseball and all that, but I also encourage play with whatever he finds interesting, whether that’s LEGOs or painting or gardening and catching bugs.

    I have a friend who told me that feminism isn’t about anything more than believing women are equal to men and deserve to be treated as such. Not better, or special, just the same treatment and level of respect. That’s a definition I support, and I can’t fathom how anyone can think that’s wrong.

  • evanwaters

    The gamer community is the most absurdly defensive one I can ever see. You can never say that anything strikes you as even the teeniest bit sexist or racist because OH MY GOD WHO CARES IT’S JUST A GAME STUPID PC POLICE like Joe Lieberman is at their doorstep or something.

  • Citric

    @drflimflam:disqus  Is getting him into baseball getting him into typical boy things, or getting him into DrFlimFlam things? I know a guy who restores old trucks, and he got his daughter into it because it was something he enjoyed and she liked to hang around with her dad anyway. I think that’s a pretty common thing, when you pass on a hobby, it’s more about having something to enjoy together than it is about reinforcing gender roles.

  • Jackbert

    @evanwaters:disqus : Coincidentally, those gamers who rage “OH MY GOD ITS JUST A GAME CHILL OUT” are those most likely to rage “OH MY GOD VIDEO GAMES LIKE GOD OF WAR ARE BEAUTIFUL PIECES OF ART ON PAR WITH HOMERIC WORKS” when Roger Ebert or a politician describes video games as “just games”…

  • ComradePig

    Unfortunately, yes. Outside of Gameological, one of the handful of sites I visit routinely for gaming discussion is actually 4chan’s /V/ video games board and all of this garbage has almost ruined that board for me.

    At one time, and still occasionally, the place was basically unmatched in terms of incisively critiquing the game’s industry and touching on lesser known titles and particularly the world of current and retro PC gaming.

    However, the place has taken a precipitous drop in quality in the past two years for an abundance of reasons, but one of the biggest has been the influx of people from other boards in particular who seem to legitimately believe ‘feminism’ and the ‘PC police’ are destroying their sacred video games. The irreverent humor that once characterized the board is getting gradually replaced by incredibly overwrought self-seriousness and increasingly just angry people.

    I used to go on there just to discuss games and relax but it’s nigh-impossible now without stumbling onto multiple threads full of of Reddit level vitriol, misogyny and reactionary politics. There’s still good stuff there but it gets buried deeper all the time.

    It bums me out that a place I used to really love going to for years now mostly just riles me up, all because a vocal subset of adolescent-minded gamers seems to think that their hobby makes them part of a uniquely superior club within humanity, and yet they don’t even display any interest or curiosity in actually discussing video games.

  • George_Liquor

    Speaking of Anita Sarkeesian, I ran across the first video in her series last Sunday, The Damsel In Distress. I agree wholeheartedly with its premise that the DID is a tired and objectifying cliche, but the video contains a frustrating number of bald assertions, sharpshooter fallacies and factual errors. I hope the next videos in the series are a little more even-handed, or at least better-researched.

  • Ghostfucker

    @George_Liquor:disqus I’m kind of conflicted on the whole Anita Sarkeesian thing. On the one hand I think the kickstarter controversy was a pretty good illustration of how ugly and unhinged the gaming community is when it comes to pretty basic equality.

    On the other hand, I think her actual videos are kind of terrible, and way too simplistic about very complex issues. I also think there was a level of willful manipulation of her audience to drive up her donations during the kickstarter debacle.

    I guess I just wish that someone with a slightly more interesting take on gender issues had gotten a big whack of cash to make some videos.

  • valondar

     @Ghostfucker:disqus In fairness, considering the kind of bitterly vitriolic responses Sarkeesian’s got, simplistic is not a bad place to begin.

  • George_Liquor

    @Ghostfucker:disqus I see what you mean. I just watched a few more of her videos and yeah, they’re patently awful! Evidently, the Damsels one is her most reasonable effort to date.

    They’re all tempests in teapots to some degree, but her top 5 sexist Christmas songs list is what really did it in for me. I honestly thought it was a parody when I first watched it. She has a legitimate gripe with Santa Baby & Winter Romance, but she takes All I Want For Christmas Is You to task for being stereotypically woman-is-incomplete-without-a-man, when the “You” in that song is never assigned a gender or any other identity, and the relationship between the singer and “You” is intentionally kept nebulous. In what may be one of the most blatantly hypocritical statements ever uttered by humanity, she even claims that a guy singing the very same song is a creepy stalker. Ugh, my brain hurts.

  • Fluka

    Late the conversation here, but to @Ghostfucker:disqus  and others not particularly in love with her videos, I’d say hey, that’s fine!  I’m just happy she got to make them at all.  Frankly, one of my most fervent wishes in this world is the wish that women be allowed to fail sometimes.  To make less than stellar products and have that not be seen as a referendum on modern feminism and womanhood.  The problem was always that the Ugly Internet Masses didn’t even want to let her speak on this subject in the first place.  Now she gets to speak, so we can critique her ideas in their own right.

    @George_Liquor:disqus She criticized All I Want For Christmas Is You as sexist??  WHAT.  *Rips up feminism card and storms off.*

  • George_Liquor

    @Fluka:disqus In retrospect, it’s kind of embarrassing that I got as worked up about that stupid song as Sarkeesian did.

  • Naked Man Holding A Fudgesicle

    I would like to play the spin off God of Love, where Cupid embarks on a quest through Ancient Rome to confront Psyche who completely forgot to send him a valentine’s day card that year. The heart-shaped chocolate boxes attached via daisy chains to Eros’ arms help him reach out to hug and kiss various frienemies and spread love throughout the lands.

    “Hugs Before Thugs” achievement unlocked!

  • The_Misanthrope

     Someone’s already done it for Celtic mythology:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloodforge

    And, as someone mentioned, there’s Dante’s Inferno, too.

  • MisterFishes

    I really, really want a Skyrim-type game set in African-like mythology. A God of War-type deal might work too, but the myths are more subtle and mischievous than towering and destructive. 
    But again, Skyrim with Savannas and deserts and jungles and small and large villages would be amazing. That, the awesome lore that exists, the shamans, and the passing of information and myth through storytellers seem like they’d work so well with the Skyrim structure. Plus: spear throwing. I’m getting all worked up thinking about this.

  • Ghostfucker

    It occurs to me that the conceit of the Assassin’s creed games are really only a couple steps removed from Moorcock’s Eternal Champion (Where various anti-heroes on multiple planes of existence are different aspects of the same soul/force of balance).
    It would really be a perfect basis for an action/rpg series, you could reset the story, avoiding the problem of a character outgrowing their plotlines and use any type of setting while keeping a thin connection between each game in the series.

    Until they retroactively made a totally convoluted timeline for all the games, the Zelda series actually seemed to have this sort of mythology in place. Totally different worlds and characters, but all repeating the same hero’s journey in an endless cycle.

  • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

    I wish that smearing blood on my front door would stop Michael Bay movies from showing up on my television. 

  • http://sarapen.ca/ Sarapen

    Why shouldn’t you criticize the content? Should you just shrug and say, “Oh well, that’s misogyny for you”? By not saying something aren’t you helping to normalize this behaviour and letting writers think that the silent majority agrees with them?

    “Oh well, video games are just inherently racist and sexist, what are you going to do?” If the answer is absolutely nothing, then I don’t see how any improvement can ever occur.

  • Indoorsman

    I know I’m in the minority here – but I liked Dante’s Inferno. Put the poem aside, and the ludicrousness of trying to adapt it into an action game – the game itself was fun with some amazing level design.

  • Al Buns

     @TddG I liked Dante’s Inferno but it is nowhere near GOW3. Don’t be ridiculous.

  • SaoirseRonanTheAccuser

    I thought the original God of War was simplistic but goofy fun – I never really understood the megasmash status it achieved at all – but beyond the first game, it went downhill FAST.  The first one was okay to play but fun to watch; beyond that, shit just got ugly.

  • Nabokov_Cocktail

    The first two games were pretty stellar.  Not getting this revisionist history.  The last thing I would describe them as is dull.  They did everything they set out to do impeccably well and were just the right amount of challenging.  The graphics were beautiful for their time and the setting was something we hadn’t really seen before in video games.  

    The third one felt far too much like a retread, especially considering the heightened expectations of it being the first one made for the ps3.  The graphics were superior, but there was nothing new in the game mechanics.  

    I haven’t played any of the portables and it doesn’t sound like I’ll be playing this one, but give some credit where it’s due.

  • Al Buns

     Then you can not get into any game as GOW is one of the most exciting, cinematic and captivating games in the history of the industry. It has influenced so many games even established franchises like Ninja Gaiden and MGS as well as new comers like Uncharted and Gears of War so it must have done something right.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kevin-Johnson/501651 Kevin Johnson

    Seconded. It was a HELL of a lot better than God of War 3, which was not only easy but the controls were insanely loose and unrefined. Also, the level design for it was fairly atrocious.

  • ToddG

    I found 3 to be quite a challenge on the higher difficulty settings. 

  • SensitiveSethPutnam

    It had one of the biggest WTF moments in recent memory, when you fight a giant, topless Cleopatra as she shoots unbaptized babies with scythe-arms out of her nipples.

  • http://twitter.com/UnSubject UnknownSubject

    Dante’s Inferno did have some imaginative level designs.

    And more male nudity than I can remember seeing in any other game.

  • rvb1023

     Yeah, quite a few people have pointed out this series has done incredibly tasteless stuff like this before without nearly as much backlash, but those games were 2010 and earlier, while this game came out after the whole Tropes Versus Women debacle.

  • aklab

    I think Hobbes is saying a responsible gamer should (1) not buy this game (2) still criticize its contents. Right? 

    Full disclosure: my attention span only lets me understand like one paragraph at a time. 

  • ToddG

    I think you misinterpreted the post.  I believe Hobbes is saying that we should all a.) not buy this game and b.) criticize the content despite not having fully experienced it.

  • PaganPoet

    Hehe, that’s actually pretty uncanny. Are @aklab:disquz and @BreakingRad:disqus estranged twins?

  • aklab

    Drat, you’ve uncovered my true identity as aklabG

  • HobbesMkii

    My general point is that people who willingly purchased God of War: Ascension have very little reason to complain, because this is what the series is about, and a halfway informed consumer would have expected it. It was eyebrow-raising for me because of the sheer audacity to put that in the game in 2013, but not because it was particularly shocking in terms of content.

    I don’t want to perform too much of a postmortem on my own metaphor, here, but my feeling is that we should absolutely complain that the video games produced by major studios are sexist/racist/etc. and that there needs to be a major shift (that’s the push to install a traffic signal in my metaphor).

    To introduce a new urban safety metaphor, it’s entirely reasonable to press for action when you feel your neighborhood is unsafe, but no one would fault you if you played it safe and avoided going down certain alleys alone at night. This game is that dark alley.

  • PaganPoet

    Even that sentiment is rooted in misogyny, though. It’s like…for a man to give up his position of power and like something feminine is the biggest slight of all. Charlotte Gainsbourg’s character in The Cement Garden puts it well (admittedly, I only know this quote from the Madonna song “What It Feels Like for a Girl”):

    “Girls can wear jeans, and cut their hair short, wear shirts and boots because it’s okay to be a boy, but for a boy to look like a girl is degrading, because you think being a girl is degrading.”

    See also: why homophobic douchebros find gay men disgusting, but gay women are “hot.”

  • Fluka

    @PaganPoet:disqus 

    Yup yup yup yup.  ”Masculine” is coded as being fundamentally better than “feminine.”  We like our Strong Female Characters who are indistinguishable from Manly Men, but in a sexually pleasing container.  My personal pet example of this is Major Kusanagi from Ghost in the Shell, a character I like less and less as time goes on.  

    I was actually think about this during the whole Lara Croft discussion last week.  My initial thought was “Man, how typical that they’ve reinvented their female character to be full of fear and self-doubt?”  But rather, wouldn’t it be nice that sometimes we could actually get male characters that were like this too?

  • Jackbert

    Here’s a good bit of writing about the relationship between homophobia towards gay men and sexism towards women:

    “Gay men are perceived also as a threat to male dominance and control, and the homophobia against them has the same roots in sexism as does homophobia against lesbians.

    Visible gay men are the objects of extreme hatred and fear by heterosexual men becauss their breaking ranks with male heterosexual solidarity is seen as a damaging rent in the very fabric of sexism. They are seen as betrayers, as traitors who must be punished and eliminated. In the beating and killing of gay men we see clear evidence of this hatred.

    When we see the fierce homophobia expresse towards gay men, we can begin to understand the way sexism also affects males through imposing rigid, dehumanizing gender roles on them. The two circumstances in which it is legitimate for men to be physically affectionate with one another are in competitive sports and in the crisis of war. For many men, these two experiences are the highlights of their lives, and they think of them again and again with nostalgia. War and sports offer a cover of all-male safety and dominance to keep away the notion of affectionate openness being identified with homosexuality.

    When gay men break ranks with male roles through bonding and affection outside the arenas of war and sports, they are perceived as not being “real men”, that is, as being identified with women, the weaker sex that must be dominated and that over the centuries has been the object of male hatred and abuse.

    Misogyny gets transferred to gay men with a vengeance and is increased by the fesr that their sexual identity and behavior will bring down the entire system of male dominance and compulsory heterosexuality.”

    -Suzanne Pharr, Homophobia as a Weapon of Sexism

    This comment is really long already, so I’ll just give one example I always think of when this topic comes up: “bitch” and “cunt” being used as pejoratives for both women and men.

    Also, this is my 500th comment, WHOOO, so I will take this opportunity to say Gameological is mad cool, and the fact that I can drop academic references like that on a video game website is one of the reasons why.

  • WinterFritz

    @Fluka:disqus Spec Ops: The Line’s main character is full of self-doubt. It’s generally a pretty good psychological work (for a video game, sad as it is that I have to qualify that and it helps that it’s based off “Heart of Darkness”) where the “tough-manly soldier” is put in increasingly hard to justify scenarios, and the end is a major gut-punch. It’s leaps and bounds better than the typical “everything the male hero does is correct and he is the greatest. most badass warrior” trope that dominates video games.

    I wish more video game story-tellers took the time to make their characters interesting. And I wish video games could evolve beyond the Michael Bay equivalent of “it’s just for actiony fun!” bullshit excuses.

  • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

    I actually think the time I fell in love with commenting on this site was an extended discussion on this exact subject, precipitated by the initial news blurb prominently featuring the Tomb Raider “rape” scene.

  • ToddG

    @paraclete_pizza:disqus   Yeah, it’s not the first and probably not the last time we’ll have a discussion about this topic…

    …this week.  Thanks, video game industry.

  • Barga

    Kusanagi is distinguishable from a man though…

    She has a discussion with Batou (in SAC I believe) where he asks her why she doesn’t get a male body for maximum physical efficiency, and she demures.

    There’s a strong throughline in the series that Motoko’s sexuality is something that is both important to her, and something that she’s irrevocably estranged from. Her interactions with the Kuze – boy she grew up with – (2nd season) amplify this further by focusing on the functionality of their respective “shells”.

    The movie continuity handles this in a more detached manner, where the body still stands as her connection to her humanity, but by the end of the first movie she completely abandons it (her body).

    In the second film Innocence, the Motoko’s use of sexualized bodies is fully detached. Physical forms are inconvenient, and her sexualized form is weak.  She inhabits a gynoid robot because it’s available, but derisively notes that the robot’s processing power is pathetic…  And eventually rips the body apart in order to complete a hack, and then abandoning it altogether to return to her bodiless existence.

    As far as Kusanagi goes, the body is too much of a philosophical focus for it to simply be a “woman who is indistinguishable from a manly man”.  

  • Fluka

    @disqus_A9Vjpo7XIf:disqus This was an excellent counterpoint – I hadn’t thought of the character’s sexuality in that way before.  Thanks!

    (I still wish SAC would stop “filming” scenes from a point located somewhere below and behind Kusanagi’s butt, though, gnhh.)

  • Fluka

    @WinterFritz:disqus Damn, I really do need to get around to playing Spec Ops at some point, after getting it on the Steam sale last Christmas.  Perhaps this is finally the impetus I needed.

  • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

    @WinterFritz:disqus: The interesting thing about Martin Walker in Spec Ops is that he rarely displays that self-doubt. In large part, the game is about the consequences of not expressing and acting on that self-doubt in an attempt to appear “macho.” (And, at the risk of getting political, it’s a metaphor that could be extended to American foreign policy, and more broadly, to the myth of the all-American hero, the latter of which I think is the game’s main target.)

    @Fluka:disqus: Speaking of Steam-related things that you need to do, you should join the Gameological Steam group, if only so that @Effigy_Power:disqus stops telling us how much of a sausage-fest it is. :)

  • WinterFritz

     Good points @Merve2:disqus. Walker’s doubts were more internalized, I guess I’m thinking of his compatriots whose doubts were made more manifest vocally. And it definitely is a send-up of the “rah-rah American hero nationalism!” that pervades FPSes (and since it’s made by Germans, they would know what uber-nationalism gets you)

  • Effigy_Power

    Is it sad that I am almost glad I missed all of this today?

  • Spacemonkey Mafia

    Now that the television signal is digital, you have to get one of those auxiliary input door frame adapters for it to work.
       You can pick ‘em up at Target, Best Buy or a Synagogue. 

  • LoadRanPimp420

     I agree, a game set in ancient greek mythology should totally turn a blind eye to the rampant violence and sexual deviancy that took place

  • Effigy_Power

    @LoadRanPimp420:disqus If you think that the anti-female violence in GoW is in there for historical accuracy while cleaving Minotaurs in half…
    I can’t end that sentence without insulting you, so I just won’t.

  • LoadRanPimp420

    @Effigy_Power:disqus i did not say nor think that, so i wouldn’t have been insulted. The game is a fantasy game for adults, people who are of the age to KNOW BETTER. see my response to spacemonkey mafia below.

  • Effigy_Power

    Fair enough, but I still think you are not seeing the point of contention for most. That’s not really your problem, enjoy the game if you can, but all of your responses still repeat what I think is the same fallacy.

  • Christohper Exantus

     I don’t think anyone is saying that the God of War aren’t well-made, or that there can’t be fun to be taken from these games. I think the problem that most people are having from these games is the same thing that people generally have with the Call of Duty franchise: these are high-budgeted, well-produced video games that, ultimately, feel rather empty; like, I’m just doing the same things again and again.

    I imagine that when this game hits bargain bin (much like God of War III) it’ll be a decent little time-waster. But for $60? Yeah, I absolutely expect better and the God of War formula is clearly starting to wear thin for a lot of people.

  • Al Buns

     God of War 2,3 and Ghost of Sparta are all better than GOW1, but you are entiled to your illogical opinon.

  • Al Buns

     I agree with everything you said, but to be honest all sequels barely add anything new. Just look at Halo, GTA, Mario, FF and MGS. So it is not fair to criticize GOW for sticking with what works, especially when it is incredible.