So God of War is a pretty good game. It's got a big shiny presentation, a nice balance of flashy combat, puzzles, and a story that doesn't suck. It was actually a pretty good story, considering the medium, and it introduced Kratos, an anti-hero protagonist who was fairly complex and somewhat sympathetic while still being a badass. It was a really good game. The story, while it wasn't mind-blowing, was decently-told for what it was, and it had a very nicely-defined beginning, middle, and a conclusive ending that put a nice little bow on Kratos's story. Then they made sequels. Of course they did - the first game was a huge hit that everyone loved. But the problem is... God of War shouldn't have had one. For one thing, God of War's gameplay mechanics weren't very unique. They weren't supposed to be. The design philosophy called for a very streamlined experience that polished existing gameplay ideas (a spectacle combat game a la Devil May Cry) rather than coming up with new ones. And the sequels continued with this by contributing nothing gameplay-wise. Sure, you'd get a different set of spells and some new weapons, but for the most part, the games are all pretty much identical. But that's not the problem. The problem is the story sucks. In the first game, you have to stop Ares, because he's stomping all over Athens. But Kratos has a personal stake in it because of his own past and relationship with Ares. Come the start of the second game, and Kratos is doing exactly the same thing Ares was doing in the first game. It's a small detail, but it undermines the first game by showing that at the end of all that he learned absolutely nothing, and the entirety of the second game is him trying to get revenge against people who were only stopping him from murdering people. That sums up why the sequels stink: they take what was one of the most acclaimed new video game protagonists in years, and turn him into one of the worst characters in the medium. Goodbye, tormented history and arduous struggle for redemption, hello being a whiny crybaby throwing an extended temper tantrum. To say nothing of the series's shameful treatment of classical mythology or how the entire third game is drawn out and only possible because the protagonist is an idiot. In short, a decent game followed by pointless, stupid sequels.
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