Out with the Old…

First of all I’ve been away for ages! Sorry! Things got hectic and then I went on holiday so… There’s my excuse. Back to regular blogging now.

While I was visiting my parents I decided to get a bit nostalgic and play God of War 2 on Playstation 2 (I don’t have all the old games at mine). With the new God of War game fresh in my mind, my eyes felt assaulted by the PS2 graphics. Just look at Kratos’ cheekbones!

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As always with older games it took me a little while to get back to grips with the old controller and for my eyes to adjust to the pixels. But once I had got back into it I really started to enjoy myself. When I stopped to reflect I had a sudden, unexpected twang of sadness. God of War is never going to be like this again…

You may remember my sort of review of the new God of War game where my overall view is that it’s beautiful, wonderfully acted, written, executed, I love it, etc, etc but if you look under the gorgeous surface there are just a few tiny things wrong with it. Some of the things I love about the old God of War games have been brought over: the mythology, the creative enemies, the scenery… But as much as it pains me to say it, I just had so much more fun with the old ones. I had forgotten how fun being the anti-hero was; Kratos’s absolutely no bullshit, brutal attitude that would make some of the nastiest video game villains wince is just such a guilty pleasure. You literally punch the living daylights out of people, silently stroll up to chatty heroes that think they’re better than you and kick their asses straight to Hades’ realm, in the most creative ways, without a second thought. Oh hey, a dying soldier! Let’s help him die quicker by unceremoniously chucking him into these rotating gears that are blocking my path. Puzzle solved! It might make me sound a little bit like a homicidal maniac, but killing those soldiers by hitting them with their own dismembered arm is rather therapeutic (bonus points if you say “stop hitting yourself” as you do it). Of course, if I was ever confronted with such gore IRL I’d probably faint or throw up or something, but it’s wonderfully cathartic in the old God of Wars.

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You just can’t tear people’s heads off and use them to illuminate the darkness as if they were a flesh Jack O’ Lantern like you used to…

As I was fighting the first big boss (The Colossus) I was just in awe of what a good fight it is. There are so many different parts to the fight – you swing around different platforms, catapult yourself at it, run around inside it… Then when I fought Euryale the sumo wrestler gorgon, I was trying to avoid getting petrified, tearing her temple down around her, dodging around her tail as she tried to flatten me… Most of the boss battles in the old God of War games are really good, with each boss having different attacks to the last, and a new gimmick to get your head around. That was something that was really lacking in the new game (dodge the log, attack, repeat, roll eyes). I’d be surprised if it was even possible to die in the last fight. Once you looked past the impressive visuals of that scene it got a bit strung out and to be honest I’m genuinely curious if it’s even possible to die – so little damage is done to you and health stones are abundant. It was very strange.

The originals also include QTEs, usually to violently finish off the bosses or seperate the boss stages, but they aren’t a thing in the new one. Some people may not like QTEs, but I do. Would you rather just sit there and watch Kratos take down that dragon or do you want to be a part of it? Yeah, all you’re doing is pressing buttons in sequence, but at least you are still the one in control and not watching a cutscene where all the work is done for you. You can still get knocked off and killed as well if you fail, it’s not like there’s no challenge.

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She died an elegant death…

Another point in favour of the originals is that the puzzles are clever, confusing, and satisfying to finish. You can’t call the games a mindless hack and slash because you do have to use your brain. I can think of several puzzles from each of the old games that were all essential to progressing the plot, whereas in the new one I can’t think of any particularly big puzzles that you HAD to do. Most that I can think of were to get bonus items and stuff rather than the main story. Not to say that the puzzles in the originals are that difficult – you get them eventually, but most are enough to stump you at least for a little while. On top of that I always used to be in awe at the way everything always fit together, the levels were just so cleverly designed and the sheer sense of scale of them was insane. Again, not that the new one isn’t, just not in the same way. There’s no giant mechanical horses pulling an island or a giant, rotating labyrinth…

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I eventually had to come to the conclusion that I can’t think of them as the same games. The new one has in-depth story, supporting characters and character development, crafting, tactics, monsters exploding into fireflies when they die, a Kratos (one might even say a hero) that actually cares… Almost opposing that, the originals have a super simple story line (Kratos wants revenge), super simple weapon upgrades, divine powers, gore and over-the-top violence, and a merciless anti-hero with too much power. Both are great, but different, games – they share a strong link in the story background, overall theme, and the main character, but that’s almost it really.

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This meant that I had to come to terms with the fact that I’d probably never see a ‘traditional’ God of War game again… It was a sad realisation but I’m also glad that it was as well done as it was, unlike another of my favourite franchises…

I had a similar situation earlier in the year after I tried out the Neverwinter MMORPG. I used to love the Neverwinter Nights and Baldurs Gate games but the MMO seemed like a weird attempt at ‘modernising’ the franchise. It should have worked really because it has everything it needs to become an MMO, but it just wasn’t engaging. I have a feeling this is mostly due to it being free. There was that kind of tacky element of ‘spend this to get more stuff!’ and a noticeable lack of quality which contributed heavily to the lack of enjoyment of the game, but it also just didn’t feel like an adventure to me. It felt more like Fetch Quests: The Game (collect these crates, kill 30 bandits, find 40 brooches…) It was OK, but OK is not enough in my mind for the end of Neverwinter Nights/Baldurs Gate franchise. A ‘traditional’ NWN game hasn’t been out since 2006 (excluding expansion packs) and it’s rare for those sort of games to made anymore (Dragon Age: Inquisition or Pillars of Eternity are probably the closest I’ve seen recently) so my hopes of a new one have dwindled to a mere spark; not totally gone though. You never know!

Have any games you love been ‘modernised’ or ‘re-purposed’? How do you feel about playing the anti hero?


16 thoughts on “Out with the Old…

  1. I’m a huge fan of The Longest Journey Trilogy and these three games were released with decades between them (1999, 2006 and 2015). They all play very different to each other but updating Arcadia with new graphics and game mechanics was done incredibly… It was like I’d never been away!

    Then I played Syberia. The first 2 games were released in the early 2000s with a 3rd being released last year. In my opinion, the 3rd game shouldn’t have been made as it added nothing to the previous games and ended awfully.

    Sometimes change can compliment a series, other times it can ruin them.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Great post! I think that the “easy” is something that is shared by a lot of games nowadays. To be honest, I don’t remember the last time I felt I was having any kind of challenge in the more recent RPGs and Action games which bothers me a lot.
    Also, I think action games such as God of War / Assassin’s Creed are going for the more mass RPG-ish open world genre that Skyrim opened. I mean, yeah it’s cool, but it’s sad to see that there are some original parts of some franchises that are going away because of that…

    Liked by 2 people

      • To be honest, I’m not a fan of it! And I’m a RPG addicted. However, I think it’s best to have different genres instead of combining action and RPG in one.
        It would be fine if it was one or another… But, the proportions this is taking are way too far. I’m still butthurt by Final Fantasy XV honestly…

        Liked by 1 person

      • I do! I had a lot of fun with it, actually. However, don’t go with high expectations! 😀 I was really hyper because I love Final Fantasy and I ended up with a bad taste in my mouth.

        Gameplay itself is fantastic and really fun. However having a story quest of a RPG where the objective is to reach to a certain level (by doind side quests and so on) is just a NO for me. The story is way too small and not really THAT deep.

        Also, the game can become a little repetitve since the side quests end up almost always being the same.

        Neonetheless, the gameplay is fun and the graphics are gorgeous. How the game was even one of the nominees for RPG of the year, that I can’t understand though…

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah… I think they took way too far the backlash they got from FF13 and decided to go with a more open world kind of thing. Basically trying to copy how Skyrim works, but not able to do it so well (ofc).


  3. Anti-hero all the way! That’s why Batman is so good!
    I think the evolution of a game series is such a difficult tight-rope to walk. One part doesn’t want a series to change, the other knows that without change it can become stagnant.
    I’m curious to see how they will adapt Darksiders in the same vein. I think God Of War had hit a point of doing all it could’ve done with that aspect of its gameplay. I’ve now moved to xbox so sadly haven’t had the opportunity to play the latest GoW, but certainly think what they’ve done with it looks impressive.
    I’m curious to know what you think of the Tomb Raider reboot and how they have overhauled the character and gameplay 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    • I haven’t played the new Tomb Raider games yet! I really should get around to that. From what I know it looks amazing, what worries me is that they might have given her some tragic backstory though (I don’t know anything about the plot) to give her a reason to become the tough girl we know and love, I don’t think she needs a reason, there’s nothing wrong with her just being super badass. Again, I have no idea what happens in the game though past the shipwreck so maybe that isn’t the case.

      I don’t mind the change really, I like the game and everything but it’s so different they could have almost just created an entirely new series.


  4. A reviewer described the new God of War as a transition, as setting up a new monumental arc comparable to the original; and, considering the ending, this seems fair speculation (could go into the lore implications, but there’s a blog for that XD). Although boss variety is lacking, there’s definitely a pronounced difference in boss fights depending on the chosen difficulty setting. Many also seem to consider the Valkyries to be more of a final boss battle rather than the primary antagonist; and, despite many of their individual mechanics being predictable, seeing it all strung together is nerve-wracking. As for titans of gargantuan scale, I can think of one absolutely terrifying in its size, silence, and vigilance; but, it does seem to function more as part of the background than a potential enemy. Again, this might be part of a larger setup. The majority of comparisons I’ve seen regarding the franchise tend to focus on the first and third games in the series, which seems fair considering the new one is something of a reboot while maintaining the narrative. Think you’ll revisit the other two?

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree with everything you’re saying, it is definitely a transition and there are much harder challenges to be found in the Valkyries but despite that I just miss the old, brutal, hack ‘n’ slashy ways.

      I have the third one on PS4 and it still looks amazing (though not a patch on the new one of course), I’ve been trying to get through that on the harder modes to get the trophies. If they ever re-mastered the other games you wouldn’t be able to drag me away from the TV!

      Liked by 1 person

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