I played the original Greek saga on PS3 during quarantine so I am here to give some spoiler free thoughts for anyone planning on playing the OG games, before Ragnarok comes out perhaps?
God of War (2005). The game that started it all, what people referred to when they just said "God of War" plainly. The game feels like a classic Greek odyssey. In hindsight, this game is the most grounded as unlike it's sequels I feel not as an unstoppable force but as a very mortal Greek antihero who is nothing but a man trying to do the impossible to atone for his sins. Yes, a mortal that can rip zombies in half, but a mortal nonetheless. You are only a more violent, dark, and gritty version of Hercules. And what makes you feel very mortal is that the gods in the game feel like… well, gods. Not as the evil version of the Justice League but as actual gods who are infinitely wise and powerful yet humble and moral. They are not your enemies but your allies helping you on your quest, so with the exception of the main antagonist Ares, you respect the gods and they respect you and your achievements. This game is very fun, simple as that, and I might consider to have the best story overall, the most concise one at least.
Then we have the second game, God of War II. Very similar to the first one, yet it is now clear they have plans for a bigger story that will bring sequels and prequels. This game just improves on everything that was previously achieved in the first game in my opinion. Now you do feel a bit more powerful since your objective is to kill some of the most powerful beings in existence, more powerful than the gods themselves perhaps. This time around you will get more weapons to play with and these will have a bigger role. It is the first time they introduced game mode plus, and it's in this game mode the only way you can truly experience using the blade of Olympus without any inhibitions in gameplay (like Rage meters or Zeus taking it away from you)… for now at least! The story is pretty good, not too grandeur nor too complex. Nice.
The first prequel, Chains of Olympus, released originally for PSP. This game in not the worst in my opinion, but it's certainly not the best. It adds a bit to the lore of Kratos and his struggles and hate for the gods. I feel they got the vibe from the very first game right as this takes place before it. The secondary weapon is pretty cool and so is the first magic ability. It's not boring or tedious, so if you can get past the cartoonish feel (perhaps from the remaster) then it does explain a few things from the previous two games. Besides, if you are going to play Ghost of Sparta, which I am going to talk about later, then it will probably come included in whatever bundle you buy anyway. But I have only played it once all the way through and I think that's plenty.
God of War III. The hype around this game was massive, because it was a massive game. Unlike it's predecessors, it wasn't remastered but rather released for PS3 (and the only one to get remastered to PS4), meaning the developers could do things previously unimaginable. I think there were improvements across the board, graphics being the most obvious one. The gameplay has been expanded, too, with 4 main weapons with a magic attack attached to it plus the blade of Olympus when your rage meter is full. While I didn't enjoy the story as much as the first and second games (it feels to convoluted), I feel it has the most emotion, the most rage, the most just epic massive moments and the best soundtrack. It's just pretty epic and fun. A common theme thus far.
Ghost of Sparta, the most underrated game of them all being the second prequel game released for PSP. Well, it's literally a prequel to the sequel. The story explores some of Kratos more smaller but personal background stories about his past. Unlike Chains of Olympus which only makes you go like "oh so that's why x is chained in y", you explore a story that actually makes you understand Kratos' rage, so much so I would even consider recommending to play this game in between GoW and GoW II, because it explains Kratos change of heart towards the gods very well. A highlight is the secondary weapon, the arms of Sparta, the most versatile thus far. It's almost as good as the chained blades. Once again, the game captures the feeling of playing the first two games very well. What also surprised me is how good the unlockable costumes from just beating the game are, which for me at least really encourages a second or even third play through. And as a bonus, you can unlock the Grave Digger costume, which is in fact Zeus in disguise of course, and you can play on an arena as Zeus wearing both Zeus' gauntlet and the blade of Olympus. Fucking cool, huh?
Finally… God of War Ascension. I suppose if you asked me which I would rather play twice, Chains of Olympus or this one, I wouldn't know. It is the most disappointing game for me. I won't go into specifics, but the combat changes, the story, even the camera work… it all sucks. When I started upgrading my elemental powers it started to grow on me, but it didn't last very long and neither does the game. It's very short and it borrows a lot from previous games, mostly God of War III. For example, a smaller boss is literally one from GoW III but it's eyes are blue instead of red and it spits ice instead of fire. Bruh. And the elemental weapons take… elements from the weapons of the previous game also but integrated into the blades which makes it more boring and repetitive. There are a couple of things that might be it's saving grace: the two magical items, both in combat and most importantly in making fun and unique puzzles, and then the graphics and environmental design. It looks very pretty. The way you solve puzzles and traverse through structures and visit snowy mountains and paradise islands remind me a lot of an Uncharted game. In fact, there is an Uncharted related achievement, which solidifies my point. But it's not really enough to save this game because this is God of War, not Uncharted. But then I realized something: the single player was an afterthought. That's because this game focuses on multiplayer. And it's a pretty fun multiplayer that at least now in 2020 doesn't feel like pay to win but rather you need skill, training and patience to master. So that's why the single player combat feels like garbage. It's because it was ported from the multiplayer which tries to make things more "fair" for players, but it really limits Kratos and kind of sucks for single player. All in all, should you play it? If you love the series, yes, specially if you can get it for cheap or is included in some bundle. But otherwise I don't feel it's worth anyone's time, honestly. If it's your favorite, I would like to know why! But it's not for me dude. I low-key wished I didn't buy it.
Bonus, I also tried to play Betrayal, a java based game for old phones. It's… I mean it is what it is. I didn't get very far because it's not very fun to play when compared to modern games but it's no longer canon so it doesn't really matter. I still have the jar file if anyone wants it? Also there is another non canon game called Bit of War which is a simple 8-bit game with a crazy story that is similar to what was originally planned for God of War III. A Call from the Wilds is a text based game that takes place before the iconic 2018 game, but it's not part of the Greek saga of course. Then you have comic books and novels, too. And documentaries on the creation of some of the games.
I think I'm pretty much done with all these games, except maybe finishing GoW II in hard mode (did so for the first and third one but not any other) and playing the remastered Gow III on PS4. Also, the multiplayer is fun enough that I might replay it.
Some question for you if you have come this far:
- Agree or disagree on anything I said
- Which one is your most favorite and least favorite? Wanna rank them?
- How do you think it compares to the 2018 game?
- Do you think we'll see the return of some aspects, weapons, or characters from this saga in Ragnarok?
Well, that's it. Let me know what you think.
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