Pixel du Jour

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Monday, February 07, 2005

God of War

My roommate Dan got a demo in from the PlayStation Underground the other day, for a game called God of War. I'm right now wondering why the fuck I ever dismissed this as a generic action game at E3. I feel like I owe the developers, Incog Inc, an apology for lumping their game in with titles like Devil May Cry and Castlevania: Lament of Innocence.

Let me say right now that God of War is primed to explode the whole "games as art" movement that's starting to bubble up right now. On the surface it really looks like a generic 3D action game consisting solely of a one-man army beating the crap out of a horde of demons. But below this surface is a game chock-full of deep storytelling and artistic design. Granted, it is very violent; where as most art-house games are not. This is actually God of War's biggest asset. It is in the very unique position of being able to appeal to players based on its looks (specifically to players who would not pick up an "art game") but hook them with a deep storyline and forward-thinking gameplay design.

Between cut-scenes, the game throws you into the role of Kratos, servant to Ares, the Greek God of War. Kratos is armed with two swords that can be thrown out on chains and used to wreak havoc on his foes. The player has the ability to string Kratos' moves into any combination he wants, which gives a sense of freedom and lets the player make Kratos a real manifestation of themselves. The game doesn't rely solely on the ability of the player to kill tons of enemies. From the demo, it feels like God of War is the thinking man's Devil May Cry. You can't just go and kill all the enemies by slashing them apart. Some bosses requite you to use the environment and really think about how to kill them.

The icing on the cake is the boatload of features being included with the final game. Highlights include a making of feature, other design featurettes, and a commentary track. Sadly, the commentary isn’t in game, but rather over a play-through video. There is one included with the demo, for the demo level. It’s amazing to hear the director talk about how Kratos’ ability to kick boxes (rather than just drag them around) speaks for the impatient personality of his character. Honestly, it makes me want to send them a big thank you card for caring this much about their game and the story they can tell with it.

Look forward to God of War, I'm telling you know it's going to shake things up big time.

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