In preparation for the new, highly anticipated “God of War” game coming to the PlayStation 4 next year, I decided to join the rest of the gaming world and finally play through the original trilogy spanning the PlayStation 2 and 3.
I wasn’t exactly impressed with what I saw.
The games aren’t bad, but everything from the story to the combat to the characterization of “protagonist” Kratos left me unsatisfied. The series’ PS4 debut looks promising, but only if the franchise has learned and grown from what was lacking in the first three main entries.
Here’s where the original trilogy was weak and how “God of War” for the PlayStation 4 could improve.
Games such as “Dark Souls” and “Bayonetta” have spoiled me. Overall, the “God of War” trilogy’s combat was just too simple to enjoy.
The game allows you to learn new moves and get new weapons, but it doesn’t matter. From beginning to end, there’s almost no reason to use different combos or combat techniques because the enemies are just that basic. “God of War III” made the fighting the most diverse it’s been, but it still wasn’t enough.
If the PS4 “God of War” game is going to entice action gamers, it needs some spice in its gameplay. There have to be enemies that can only be taken down with specific weapons or moves to make combat variety a necessity.
The “God of War” games also feature fixed camera placements and are packed with quick-time events—two trends the industry has grown tired of. At the very least, the new “God of War” will finally have an over-the-shoulder, free-moving camera system to make combat and exploration less frustrating.
It’s hard to like Kratos as a character. In the original trilogy, his personality doesn’t go much deeper than being a horrifically violent, rage-fueled maniac on a quest to kill every Greek god who wronged him.
Not only does Kratos kill his own family, he ruthlessly and thoughtlessly murders any innocent person who dares step in his way. From a woman he crushes with a wheel to the caged man he burns alive just to make his journey a bit easier, Kratos has zero sympathy for anyone, and so he garners none from me.
For “God of War’s” story to succeed, I need to be invested in Kratos as a person, and that means giving him a bit of humanity. Early trailers and demos have shown PS4’s “God of War” will star Kratos and the young son he’s teaching how to become a warrior. Already that’s a step in the right direction. Kratos’ affection for his child is something many gamers will be able to relate to and sympathize with.
The original “God of War” trilogy is steeped in Greek mythology, but the PlayStation 4 game will deal with Norse gods.
What does this mean for the story? Has Kratos moved from Greece to Norway? Is the game set in a new timeline where Kratos didn’t kill a dozen Greek gods, or does he carry that burden with him in his new adventure?
Kratos now has a son. Does that mean he also has a new wife or a new family? Has he forgiven himself for murdering his original loved ones?
Oh, and here’s another small possible plot hole: Kratos killed himself at the end of “God of War III.” So how will that be rectified for the sequel?
There are plenty of unanswered questions the new game can explore, but it’s interesting for a series to basically hit the reset button and deal with entirely new subject matter. It seems “God of War” is trying to reinvent itself and fix past mistakes, and I commend that decision.
Bring it on.
Video game columnist Jake Magee’s opinions are not necessarily those of Gazette management. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him @jakemmagee on Twitter.