Friday, April 02, 2010
Clash of the Titans: The Official Game
All right, I think we can stop fluffing PAX and get back to talking about games now. And what's this? My review of God of War III is up at thephoenix.com.
I remember finishing the second God of War, which ended with Kratos scaling Mount Olympus on the back of a Titan, and wanting to play the next one that instant. God of War III does indeed pick up right there, and for a minute I was all jazzed up. Then they knocked Kratos back down to Hades, and he started ripping people's heads off and everything, and...
I don't know. This game does almost everything right. It's better in some clearly definable ways than its predecessors, and somehow worse in the gestalt. Playing God of War III, I was aware that I was playing a game that had been produced at a high level, but I just didn't care what was happening.
There was one sequence in particular that crystallized my tepid reaction to this game. In the Gardens of Olympus, there's a neat puzzle in which you have to look at your surroundings through the jeweled eye of a statue, which will turn a flat image into a usable staircase. As you do this, you need to drag around a big pedestal in order to fill several vessels with water, because they're on pressure plates that will open up parts of the path for you. You also need to use the deceased body of Hera to weigh down the final vessel.
This is pretty standard God of War stuff, and it's a fun enough puzzle on its own. It also rewrites all the rules of the game to that point. The garden has walls low enough that Kratos could easily leap over in any other part of the game, but here invisible barriers block his path. (He can't grab onto them, either). Although we've seen him perform astounding feats of strength and agility, including prying open the clenched fingers of a Titan and leaping hundreds of feet in the air with blades akimbo, for some reason he can't carry a 120-pound woman over his shoulder without lurching around like a drunk person. Kratos can't jump while he's carrying Hera, or throw her even a few feet. For the purposes of the puzzle, the game completely handicaps him without any good reason.
Beyond that, you can't say the action is bad in any traditional sense. It looks great, plays well, and sticks to the solid fundamentals established by the first couple of games. I felt like they went a little too far over the line with the gore this time around, but that alone isn't the reason I felt so disconnected. We've just played this game before, is all. Time for something else.