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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142 Responses to “The Gods Have Abandoned Us”

  1. Nick says:

    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.

  2. Spacemonkey Mafia says:

    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 says:

       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 says:

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

    • HobbesMkii says:

       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 says:

        I apologize if I’ve offended your faith.

        • HobbesMkii says:

          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 says:

          @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 says:

      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 says:

      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.

    • Halloween_Jack says:

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

      Just had to stop and pay homage to this phrase.

  3. Citric says:

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

    • caspiancomic says:

       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.

  4. George_Liquor says:

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

    I sing whenever I sing whenever I siiiiing!

  5. PiraticalTerror says:

    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 says:

       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 says:

        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.

        • 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.

        • 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 says:

           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 says:

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

        • HilariousNPC says:


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

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

        • LoadRanPimp420 says:

           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 says:

             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 says:

        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.

  6. Christohper Exantus says:

    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.

  7. Staggering Stew Bum says:

    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.

    • Girard says:

      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 says:

      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.

      • Nick says:

        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 says:

          Maybe women of the Cult of Salome find it hot?

        • Merve says:

          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 says:

          @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 says:

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

  8. OhHaiMark says:

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

    • Open_Source_Idiom says:

      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).

  9. adam_pelican says:

    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 says:

       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 says:

        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.)

      • zerocrates says:

        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 says:

      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:

  10. doyourealize says:

    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 says:

      Kratos is an unsympathetic Walter White.

      • Tyler Mills says:

        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! 

    • Zack Handlen says:

      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.

      • 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…

  11. 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.

  12. valondar says:

    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.


  13. Haymz_Jetfield says:

    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.)

  14. Mercenary_Security_number_4 says:

    ““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.

    • Merve says:

      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.

    • LoadRanPimp420 says:

       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 says:

         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 says:

         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. 

  15. SergeantKabukiman says:

    That last paragraph made me really uncomfortable.

  16. Eddie Ramirez says:

    God of War: Ascentially phoning it in.

  17. Kel Rubin says:

    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”:

  18. HilariousNPC says:

    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.