*Chugs Glass of Wine* Oh, gods above, where do I begin with this oh so promising series of games that slowly got swished away like abundant sick from a constantly ill party girl hung over a toilet? It started out so well, and so interestingly, but by the third game I was banging my head on the designated “Bang Head Here” sign on my wall all while asking what I, The Mythology Snob, did to deserve such a horrendous interpretation of Greek Myth. So what is it about the journey of steroid posterchild, Kratos, that drives me into an arm flailing rage? Let’s take a look at each game and see what happens.
God of War
The first game, and the best one. I still own this and play it on occasion. Firstly, in this game, rather than being a roided-up meathead like he becomes, Kratos is a sympathetic character. He had murdered his wife and child in a blood rage, and it’s clear in his behavior and speech that he feels deep regret for what he had done. Everything he does, every murder, every beast slaying has a purpose: to bring him one step closer to Ares, who was the evil bastard who put him on this path in the first place. Speaking of Ares, he was a fantastic villain and given the fear and respect that the god of war would merit. The only thing I find to crack jokes about concerning his character is his flaming hair, and that’s just because my sense of humor is so terrible. The bosses in this game are also FANTASTIC, with my favorite being the Hydra battle. It’s just so well done that I find myself resetting just to play it again. My only real gripes with the story concerns minor characters and bosses, like Medusa. Of course, it has to be Kratos that kills her, but for some reason it’s Aphrodite who has it out for the poor tragic naked snake lady. Although Aphrodite is a shallow bitch, it’s actually Athena that wished for her to die and slapped her mug upon her shield. Also the temple of Pandora guardian was just too uninteresting for me. Other than a few nitpicks, this game is solid, and, while it has innacuracies, a random out of nowhere sex game, and a few other oddities I still like it a lot!
God of War II
This game starts with Kratos abusing his power as the new God of War and being a huge asshole, (motives for the gods to hate him much?). He completely ignores Athena, the goddess of WISDOM, and stupidly goes off to try to conquer Rhodes. This ends with him eventually getting killed by Daddy Zeus, who, while also an asshole, had good reason to do so. He is rescued by Gaia, who was the narrator all along, and sides with the titans against the gods. Note how the gods were not at all at fault here, and it’s just the first step in Kratos’s movement from sympathetic anti-hero to completely irredeemable douchecanoe. Kratos then proceeds to murder classic Greek heroes in his quest to reverse time and prevent himself from dying, A.K.A. Murdering the Three Fates. This is where I started to get a little irritated with the series. For some reason, Theseus, not exactly a good guy himself, but doing much better than Kratos, is relegated to mere stable boy for the Fates, who don’t even appear in his story. Also for some reason, Theseus is able to summon copies of his arch-nemesis, the minotaur. What? He also murders Perseus, probably out of some macho way of saying “HA HA I KILLED MEDUSA AND YOU DIDN’T! NYANYANYA”. And then there’s Icarus, who is completely different from his original mythological self in that he’s a crazy old man whom Kratos rips the wings from. Original Icarus was a very foolish child who flew too close to the sun and then died when his wings melted. Although I don’t know what is more discomforting, the fact that Kratos murders a crazy old man near death, or that they COULD have had Kratos murder a child. Another event that troubles me is the fight with Euryale, who is explicitly described as immortal and gifted with horrifying cries rather than eyes that turn people to stone. God of War II still has her turned into a handy dandy trophy for Kratos and provides one of two uncomfortable boss fights against overweight women. Also, I don’t know what part of “immortal” they don’t understand in these games. The other uncomfortable boss fight is against Clotho, dubbed the “Ugliest Chick in Gaming”. Odd, considering that in mythology she is the youngest and prettiest of the Fates, but you can tell that designers deliberately made her gross looking so people would go “eeew a worm woman with 100 tits”. The other two Fates are largely uninteresting and just serve as stereotypical “evil witch” types, so I won’t even bother talking about them. Really, the only fights I liked in this were with the Colossus of Rhodes and the Kraken, both of which were great and interesting, (in spite of being innacurate). The boss fight against Zeus wasn’t TOO bad, but I found it generic. Basically, God of War II was taking steps away from sad antihero and steps toward insane evil loon. So many things in it were innacurate or ignorant of the mythology, and somewhat offensive when you think about them a little too much, (It’s ok to kill fat women and completely DESTROY the cycle of life and death to get REVENGGGEEEE). And this isn’t even my least favorite game in the series…oh joy of joys.
God of War III
*Finishes second glass of wine* This one is a doozy. This is the game that made me realize that God of War was no longer a good series. As tipping downward as the second game was, this game really…really irked the Mythology Snob in me. Let me begin with the fact that Kratos KILLS nearly the entire Greek pantheon in this game. Yeah, that’s right. He KILLS immortal, all powerful, skillful deities. Only Apollo, Artemis, Aphrodite, and Demeter seem to escape his wrath, along with a few demigods. I will start at the beginning and work my way down the list of gods and titans killed. Poseidon, yep, the god of the seas is the first to go, and it is NOT pretty as you see Kratos crush his eyes from his point of view. Poseidon is one of the coolest gods in Greek mythology and is in complete control of the seas and their phenomenon, so it would have been easy for him to trounce Kratos. Nope, super manlyman wins and dispatches him in a humiliating manner, because “HURR ME STRONG, ME COOL ME-” Ok. I’m not even to the part that makes me the angriest about this game, I need to calm down. THEN you fight Hades, a guy who has every right to want to kill you, but BADASS Kratos disposes of the Lord of the Dead in an actually cool fight, rather than the humiliating treatment given to Poseidon. Let’s also talk about the repercussions from killing this guy. Zombies. Zombies everywhere. Yeah, not such a good idea huh, Kratos. Oddly enough, it is the two bosses after this fight that made me the angriest: Helios and Hermes. First of all, Helios is not a god. He is a titan. He is also responsible for the entire SUN. So how does God of War III depict him? As a whimpy ass god in a flaming chariot who you don’t even FIGHT so much as close your eyes and rip his, (STILL ALIVE) noggin from his shoulders. This death made me literally sick. Like, I’m not even joking, I had to leave the room and throw up. This guy suffers through SO much, screaming as you use him as a flashlight for all eternity…just so you can use him as a flashlight. Moving on, there is only ONE god in this game who I feel was portrayed in an accurate manner, my favorite of the Greek pantheon: Hermes. Hermes in every essence of the word is a trickster and my goodness, is he funny. Everything he accuses Kratos of is correct, and his mocking of the stupid meathead was delightful to listen to. People hate his boss fight because he just runs away screaming and making fun of Kratos, but really, it was all he could do, and he tried. I was really upset to see him die as Kratos literally KILLED COMEDY. This is a MAN’S game you know?! NO place for shits and giggles! *finishes third glass of wine* The fact that bugs come out of his body and people become diseased bothers me, along with the fact that Kratos has stooped SO low that he would cut the legs off of a man who clearly stands no chance against him just to get his fancy shoes. To prove how low he has stooped, he later murders an innocent woman in cold blood to open a puzzle, and breaks Hera’s neck even though the lady is clearly drunk and has no idea what she’s saying. To keep this short, Hercules’ name is Greek is “Herakles” and Hera actually hated him. Gaia dies from a case of heartburn as her son and grandson fight like morons in her chest. Hephaestus is impaled for DARING to try to protect his daughter. Annnd, Aphrodite is a minigame to make the men feel even more manly. DUDE I boned a GODDESS! *snortsnort* This game…this game…I don’t even.
I stopped playing after God of War III grossed me out so much with its macho anti-woman, anti-alternative sexualities, anti-common sense, realistic gore, mythology shitting on shitty shit shit shi- Sorry. Although, I hear that God of War: Ascension was also terrible in its treatment of Castor and Pollux, who are for some reason siamese twins in the vein of Nigel and Sebastian of House of the Dead:Overkill. Sadly, taking one of my favorite horror game bosses and trying to make a mythological meaning out of it doesn’t work, mostly because Castor and Pollux were not mutants. Also, I heard the final bosses were very boring, similar to the Fates in that one of them is monstrous, and the other two are generic “witchy ladies”. It is really sad that God of War took such a turn for the worst, because I love the first game still. It was an enjoyable romp through an idealized Greek myth land with a slightly sympathetic character, but, after that it just became a poster child for everything that is wrong with machoman games and modern “interpretations” of mythology.
Next time on The Mythology Snob, something that makes me a little bit happier: Shin Megami Tensei, an amazing series of games that gets so many things RIGHT that what it does wrong is minimal. In the meantime, time to fetch my best sandals and prettiest dress and go make some bad jokes!
(The wine featured for this review is from the Queen’s Cup series, produced by Mount Hope Estate and Winery: http://www.parenfaire.com/ . The Raspberry Honey Wine is a sweet mead flavored with just a touch of raspberry sweetness and is one of my favorite wines from the collection. I certainly recommend picking up a bottle if you prefer sweeter wines. )