I've started to play games again after about a three month hiatus. In all honesty, it hasn't actually been that long; I play games at work in the process of doing my job (I've logged a lot of hours on Battlefront 2 over the last 5 months).
What I mean, though, is that I haven't played games much at home when I'm done at work. It happens from time to time. Seems to happen most frequently when I'm neck-deep in a project. While I'm plugging away on a game at work, I have little interest in going home and either 1.) listening to music (especially classical music) and 2.) playing any games.
Well, with some more time on my hands these days, I've started to pick up the controller again. Over the last week, I beat God of War. I'm torn as to whether I think its a great game or not.
Everything that I typically use to gauge a game's worth - camera, controls, basic gameplay mechanisms, voice acting, story - all of these things are absolutely fantastic. The fixed camera annoyed me a bit at first, but I got used to it. Sony's created a great atmosphere with the game, fleshed it out well with some of the best scripting (story-wise, not trigger-wise) I've ever seen in a game, and created a game that remains true to itself through the entire 10+ hours or so of gameplay. Perhaps most impressively, they've created a game that has a really great ending that feels like it pays off on the journey to get there. No small task; many great games fall on their face with their endings (Spider-Man for the PS1 immediately comes to mind).
My problem with it comes from its "M" rating. For the most part, it's a Teen rated game: violence against mythical creatures, no cursing, etc. The thing is, in the game's cutscenes, there's a RIDICULOUS amount of blood and repeated gratuitous female nudity. If an enemy is killed in a cutscene, the poor sod instantly seems to jettison all of the blood from his body out of whatever wound he just incurred. And if the character is female, chances are that she's there topless (or in a sheer top). Anyway, there's a lot of seemingly pointless nipplage.
The thing is, neither of these elements seem to really make the game any better. They don't seem to have a point. They seem to only be there to bump the Teen rating up to a Mature rating. I think the end result is a game that completely succeeds in alienating some of their prospective audience.
See, at it's heart, the game is very reminiscent of Prince of Persia. Many of the gameplay mechanisms are the same: glowing columns of save points, environmental puzzling melded seamlessly into the level design, strong/light combat moves with special moves, dagger-armed main heroes, etc. That said, there was a great fanciful storytelling element of PoP that God of War lacks. SAT time:
Prince of Persia:Dragonslayer::God of War:
A. Conan the Barbarian
B. Conan the Govenor
C. Conan O'Brian
D. Whatever, I've muddled my point.
The end result was that PoP was a game both Amanda and I enjoyed. Meanwhile, the cutscenes of God of War make me feel that, should we play the game together, I'd feel embarrassed on behalf of the Devs whenever a topless Greek lady got beheaded and gushed gallons of blood out of her neck.
It bugs me, I guess, and it has me still debating what I think of the game. I suppose I like the "game" part of it and don't like the developers. Maybe it's just the director or art director. Who knows. All I know is that I anxiously awaited the PoP sequel and I don't particularly care about a God of War sequel.
Mainly because I'm disappointed in the execution of what could have been a phenomenal game if it didn't seem to stoop so low for sex appeal and shock factor.