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    jp's God of War: Chains of Olympus (PSP)

    [November 6, 2009 05:19:20 PM]
    I just realized I had a few more things I wanted to write about GoW. Even though I haven't played in a few days I find myself still thinking about the experience, which is both unusual as well as surprising.

    Kratos is essentially a superhero. He goes above and beyond what a "mere" mortal can do and in many ways his adventures are completely over the top. He's much more than a "regular" ancient Greek hero. Really.

    However, the games' design is quite careful in playing up a certain duality. While Kratos is superhuman, he is also at the same time quite human. What may seem paradoxical in the beginning ends up giving the character a greater sense of credibility and humanity while still feeling otherworldly or superhuman. For example, Kratos is incredibly strong and capable of amazing acrobatics. Yet, he visibly strains and grunts when you, the player, hold down a button and wait a second or two, as he opens a chest. Similarly, many stone doors require you to hammer a button repeatedly as Kratos strains to lift them open. While Kratos may be super strong, many of the things he does still require effort. Sure, he may not get tired, but it's no easy walk in the park.

    From a player's perspective, that effort comes in the slight pauses you have to make as you wait for Kratos to do something. However they're not "time delays" or slow animatins, or laggy pauses because you are always active. You're either pressing a button repeatedly, responding to on-screen cues, or just holding a button. I literally found myself often pushing a button with increasing force as Kratos strained! Superman doesn't grunt and heave...Kratos does.

    Curiously, towards the end of the game Kratos needs to surrender his powers in order to be with his daughter. When he does this he not only loses some of his scars and tattoos, but he also becomes less savage and superhuman. He can't continue on his quest until he regains that power, relinquishing some of his humanity in the process.

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    [November 4, 2009 08:49:26 PM]
    Short games that are good really hit the sweet spot for me and this game nails everything on the head in that respect. I think I played it for about 6-7 hours and I just finished it! Curiously, I thought the story was going more places than it did in the end, but that's ok. Namely, I though I was going to have to rescue Helios and THEN go on to do a whole bunch of other stuff. Ultimately, I didn't even see Helios since things took a turn south earlier than expected with Persephone (the final baddie) and the titan Ajax. A few things I found interesting:

    (a) There is an area where there are "dead soulds" (live corpses?) chained to the walls. If you attack them they moan and scream, eventually die, and release healing orbs! At first I didn't want to kill them (what for?) but then I realized that they had been placed there as a resource. Killing them obviously strengthens the whole idea that Kratos is pretty much a heartless badass.

    (b) The final fight with Persephone was both annoying and interesting. The annoying part is that the first phase of the fight is right after a lengthy unskippable cutscene (that I must have seen at least 10 times) that includes additional loading times. Why?!?! Fortunately, once you are able to whittle Persephone's health to half, you hit the next checkpoint and don't have to start all over. The interesting bit has to do with the fact that if you fail too many times, the game (now and then) intercedes by asking if you would like to lower the difficulty level. Wow! I didn't know it was keeping track of my performance. I was surprised that this only appeared at the end given that there are plenty of earlier encounters I miserably failed to clear in only a few attempts. As an added "bonus", the screen that suggests you might want to lower the difficulty also reminds you that changing the difficulty won't affect the story! Nice!

    (c) I'm not incredibly familiar with the intricacies of the GoW series' story. I knew that Kratos is very angry with the gods and that it all had to do with the death of his family. This issue is actually a part of this game since, while in the Undeworld, Kratos sees his daughter! At first I thought this was simply a nice little detail added to appease fans of the series or something like that. I was surprised when it became a central part of the story. In order to be with his daughter, Kratos must surrender all his power (and weapons) effectively becoming more human (and less badass, he even loses the red tattoos!). Of course it doesn't end there when he realizes that by giving up the world for his daughter, he is dooming the world (and, his daughter as well). So, in a very interesting mini-game (QTE?) he must push his daughter away (she cries and begs for him not to abandon her) and then proceed to regain his powers (by killing dead spirits, not sure how that worked). It was a moment that was quite moving, to be honest. I really felt sorry for the guy even though I don't really like him as a character!

    (d) I liked how you are given the option of executing QTEs to finish some enemies but that they aren't required (except for bosses). I found some of the QTEs quite tricky and simply preferred to kill the monsters the regular way.
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    [October 29, 2009 07:30:39 AM]
    I guess it's kind of fitting to start playing this game as I travel to Athens, Greece. I wouldn't be surprised to hear, however, that the locals aren't that impressed by the games' appropriation of classic greek culture. I'll have to ask around.

    I would summarize my experience playing so far in the following way:

    "Sex is harder than violence"

    GoW is pretty straightforward when it comes to killing. Arguably it's what Kratos does best and it's what you do most of the time in the game. I was surprised, however, by how difficult the sex side-game was! It took me at least 15 attempts before I was able to beat it! The main reason for this is that the mini-game introduced a new form of interaction and it took me a while to figure out the sensitivity and timing of the controls. And yes, a lot of the quick-time events that appear later in the game use the same interaction. In all, the little sex game was a little bit interesting because:

    (a) It was optional. I could have left the area where it happened and wouldn't have know that I'd missed it. Perhaps this was a way to avoid media controversy?

    (b) The story is an incredible stereotype of male teenage power fantasies. Essentially, touch protagonist saves 2 women from invading soldiers. They then reward him with a threesome.

    (c) The threesome isn't depicted directly although you do see the naked women. Some people would argue that it was s self-censorship issue, but I would argue that showing the characters having sex would simply look stupid and it was thus more effective to imply rather than show.

    (d) You can fail! The "win" condition is to satisfy the women's sexual desires. If you fail you can walk out, leaving the women unsatisfied.

    (e) The goal is to satisfy the women, not yourself! (this is perhaps the most interesting...)
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    jp's God of War: Chains of Olympus (PSP)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Wednesday 28 October, 2009

    GameLog closed on: Friday 6 November, 2009

    jp's opinion and rating for this game

    Highly polished. Tightly focused, short, and incredibly enjoyable.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

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