Even though it’s been out several years, I just completed my first ever play-through of the original God of War as part of the newly-released God of War Collection on PS3. The graphical update stands up pretty well, even though some of the pre-rendered movies look a little dated.
My overall experience with the game was pretty mixed. There were high points, and then there were really low points. Some of the platforming sections of the game were intensely hard and unforgiving. In fact, most of the stretch of the game in Hades was ridiculously punishing, including the insta-death falls from the horizontal spinning blades of death. Not content only to test your will to throw a controller in one dimension, the vertical blades of death didn’t kill you outright, but only forced you to replay the same stupidly difficult section endlessly until you passed it. My relief was short-lived, as I was then greeted by yet another set of vertical spinning blades of death. Yay.
Prior to Hades, there’s a section were you have to kick a box across the room in a race to (once again) avoid instant death. You have to get your timing exact, otherwise you have to play it over again, watching the same annoying intro screen. Then there’s the Blades of Hades section (not actually in Hades, but in Pandora’s Temple) where you have to tight-walk on wooden beams and avoid more spinning blades. What is with these spinning blades? One mis-step, then, and you either fall off straight away or get chopped and pushed off, and you start over.
So, the platforming sections were pretty bad. However, the fights for the most part were intense and rewarding. Especially towards the end of the game, when your Blades of Chaos are maxed you, you can string together immense combos, working your enemies over in a mix of speed and brutality. It was most rewarding, strangely, in Hades, where the toughest sets of normal enemies meet you, and one brief section in Athens facing pumped-up, towering giants. You have so many weapons and moves at your disposal, you can work anyway you want, and this free-form battle system that aids you just enough to never worry too much about targeting or the camera is the greatest strength and greatest enjoyment in the whole game.
It is then incredible that these fight sections are the briefest of the entire experience. For a game that bills itself as a brutal brawler, you do a whole lot of jumping over ridiculous obstacles. I played the game through on normal, and I never once got offered “Easy Mode” (a result of dying too much) on combat sections. Maybe once or twice would I fail a fight, but then get the right of it, and move on. In the platforming sections, it would take me dozens of tries to get it right. Incredibly frustrating.
The final fight of the game then was just the icing on a terrible cake. I simply could not win. By that time, it was 2am, I was incredibly pissed after pulling my butt through Hades and beating two fights already, and the only way I won was by giving into Easy Mode for the first time in the whole gaming and winning with like three button presses. FYI, Easy Mode is Easy. Why couldn’t Normal Mode be Just A Bit Challenging?
Given my experience with the game, I doubt I’ll play God of War II, or even look much at the new installment coming out for PS3 in the next couple months. I was originally interested in it, but if they put any insta-death platforming sections in that force me to endlessly play the same section of gameplay again, it’s not worth my time.