The profound evolution of “Dad of War”

Evolution is such a subjective word these days.

In a prime example, bands Paramore and Linkin Park have stirred chaos with their latest albums, After Laughter and One More Light, respectively, which had nothing to do with rock or nu-metal sounds. The new sounds have divided fans like the Red Sea. One side are on denial of the change, and the other side of fandom, the ones who love the band as they are and not for their sound, have defended this as “mature” and an “evolution.” It’s funny how these things were considered “mature” but that’s a different matter. But, as an evolution, that’s a little tricky. When you say “evolution” it’s supposed to mean they have transformed into something better, picking up old set pieces that worked and amplifying it with something newer that would turn it to gold.

Evolution is, when Agumon turns into Greymon to MetalGreymon and then WarGreymon. It’s the same procedure for Charmander reaching its final stages as Charizard, with a Mega Form as an epic encore. 

Then again, the tyrannosaurus rex is believed to be the ancient form of a chicken, and has evolved into humans’ happy meals in order to accommodate its own shrinking food supplies. Evolution is an adaptation to the environment, and if we look at it this way, no one can deny the commercial success of pop music, and so does that mean both Paramore and Linkin Park are… sellouts?

In any regard, the newest God of War happens to be the videogame equivalent of Paramore and Linkin Park, because the change of style and gameplay has been so drastic, it’s cleaving people from head to groin. 

When God of War was first released in 2005, it was the height of fast-paced and aggressive hack-and-slash trend jettisoned by Devil May Cry in 2001. It was gritty and violent. It gave you a simple story, Kratos, the game’s anti-hero, is pissed at the god of war, Ares, and so sets out for revenge. Instead of wild exploration – and exploration, we mean backtracking ten billion times like in DMC – God of War gave you puzzles, which served as breathers between the carnage sessions. It gave you amazing sceneries and epic moments delivered through Quick Time Events. I will always remember in God of War II where you had to swing between a series crumbling pillars. Try swinging through that Nathan Drake! 

In short, it was a violent action game done right. But the times have changed. Devil May Cry is nothing more today than a distant echo of the past just like all the classics we yearn to return some day. And God of War: Ascension had been a valiant effort to keep on milking the franchise, but after six games of encountering the same exact gameplay with the same exact length with some whatever excuse to strip Kratos off his powers and equipment, things do get stale a little. The game has an 80% Metacritic score, the lowest ever in the franchise, despite having being a really cool game that basically did everything what the first five games did.

Developers needed to consider other options. Today that seems to be two things: Combat and exploration. The latest trend that many developers love copying is Dark Souls, first released in 2011. And every since that game blew way out of its head, tiny shreds of Dark Souls DNA has been scattered throughout various games: Nioh, Lords of the Fallen, Salt and Sanctuary, and even The Legend of Zelda: Breathe of the Wild are primary examples.

As seen in the trailers the new God of War has a different combat mechanic. Instead of an angled top-down view, we get a full 360-degree camera controlled view. We see Kratos having his axe ready in one arm and a raised shield in the other. This lets us know combat mechanics will cater some similarities to Dark Souls, in a more, thread carefully approach. And yet, we see in the same trailer how Kratos takes on multiple enemies, swinging his axe like a rabid mountain man and doing cool stuff with it. What does this mean? We’re playing the same aggressive hack-and-slash game, only with actually new weapons with new tricks that encourage a more tactical approach. It’s old school God of War with the addition of newer, cooler stuff to turn it gold. Or at least, hopes to turn it gold.

In 2005 God of War was deemed mature because of its high-level of violence, gore, and the mini-game that required you to knock a vase off the table. Today, the new game is being considered mature for its sophistication and dad elements, where Kratos now looks after a young boy. Kratos now stands among the “Sad Dads,” next to Joel, Booker, and Logan. And there’s usually one way how the dad makes it out in the end.

But it’s so much more than that. The possible tactical approach in combat is the developers telling everyone how the games have gone “mature” and how it has evolved in the times today after six games since all the way from 2005. Let’s also chuck in that scene in the trailer, where the World Serpent appears, and Kratos, instead of going full berserk mode, asks, “What is it saying?” Kratos has aged and has gained wisdom, learning to speak first before cracking skulls. Well, maybe not exactly, we’ll find out next year.

It has also confirmed that the controversial mini-games—you know, the ones where you need to topple a vase, make a peeing statue pee harder, and, well, bang a goddess of sex—will not return to the game. The developers are letting people know that this game is no longer a game for bros who are into bloody action and boobs, especially with the height of gender roles in games, films, and in the community, are being scrutinized and criticized. If you want to check out boobs, there’s Google for that, and if you want the same bloody action again, there are six other God of War games out there.


August Falls

Things have gone so fast this August and I’ve done, nothing much really. I’ve just added a few words in Tunnel Crow Town and did some quick edits on Scar City, both are starting to form some bones in them. I swear, every time I try to move forward, I’ve got this itch to go back and fix every darn loophole. It is, detestable, counterproductive, and won’t get me anywhere if I keep at it.

On other things, with a few long weekends and many non-working days (because of the man-high floods), I’ve wasted my time on movies, The Simpsons, a book, and relived the first God of War. So while at it, I might as well say a few words about each.

Casino: As expected from a Martin Scorsese film, pure awesomeness. The character, Ginger, got me thinking for a bit, but I’ll save that topic for sometime.

The Bourne Legacy: *yawn* Why? Basically, it lacked the action and intensity of the first three Bourne films. And the final chase scene was pretty anti-climatic.

Tron: is such a fantastic and fun film. Visually impressive, considering it was around ’80s, I think. I managed a smile at the touch screen desk they showed, it was just fun to see visions of future technologies graduallying becoming the technologies of today. Also, Jeff Bridges screaming like a girl got me cringing in laughter. It was a little bit anti-climatic though. But the entire adventure to escape the games and the journey toward the desolution of the MCP was thrilling. And like many Disney films that try to teach you something, never, ever, steal anything from anyone, especially when they’ve worked so hard for, but it’s alright to at least try to steal his girl.

Tron: Legacy: Visually appealling! *Ogles at Olivia Wilde* Oh and yes, it was boring . I nearly fell asleep. The only good parts were the first and last thirty or so minutes. But even that last part wasn’t very exciting. They basically tried to mirror the first Tron film – the pattern is there: The games, the light cycle battle, the escape, and the journey to the end. Tag that along with the predictable scenarios and a very bad deus ex, leaving this sequel the lacking knockout wonder and adventure from the film movie. At least, this one didn’t try to teach me it’s alright to steal someone else’s girl. Looking forward to Tron: Uprising when it comes here in Philippines.

The Simpsons (S1): it wasn’t as good as I remembered it, but some of those episodes were golden. “Simpson’s Roasting On An Open Fire”, I find, is a very good start, it established the Simpson’s family just right, and Homer wasn’t a complete duffus. On this episode, he was shown as a father having a lot of stress to support his family, his issues with the in-law sisters, and, him breaking down when he compares his home with the Flanders’. While his family remains oblivious to this potential holiday-disaster. Homer continues to put up a positive attitude, becoming, a, say, pillar of strength. Ultimately, the episode ended with somethnig warm, fuzzy, and sweet. Another memorable episode is “Life On The Fast Lane”, Homer’s continuous neglect almost drives Marge to infidelity. The emotional depth of this episode was unbelievable. There was no twist in the conclusion, we expected Homer and Marge to come through this, and they did. But how they did, no words can ever describe, almost literally since the two just looked at each other and knew then and there that they will be alright. It probably would have been better if the actual song, “Up Where We Belong”, was sang. The season finale was pretty amazing too, but one of the best episodes, but bold and daring. I just wish they had more episodes like this, every once in a while, instead of another Bob’s comical murder attempts.

Dust of Dreams: the 9th Malazan Book of The Fallen. Probably one of the largest books I’ve ever set my hands on. I used to be a big fan of the Malazan series by Steven Erikson. The immense density of each book is filled with epic awesomeness. However, right after book 5, starting with The Bonehunters, things got a little shaky. I’m not alone in that one, books 6-8 were a hit-or-miss, and for me it was a strike. Too many underdeveloped point-of-view characters we don’t really care about very much, and the few ones developed, the ones we actually like and care, ends up in Hood’s freaking domain. Now back to the 9th book, the exposition is terribly long, I spent some hours to get through the first 200-300 pages and nothing big happens, that’s fine in some books, but they talk about doing a fortune reading, and it took up over 300 pages before it actually starts, and it’s all about characters fearing the disaster that will happen, some uncooperative people who doesn’t want to participate, and other zig-zags that really just pissed me off. It doesn’t build tension, I didn’t feel the slightest bit closer to these characters, all I saw was chaos. I appreciate the marines fighting among themselves, I appreciate the action even if it had little to do with the actual story, I appreciate the large cast really, what I don’t appreciate is how it feels like we’re not moving forward at all. But, like all Malazan books, when the real action picks up, and I mean really picks up, expect a few hundred pages of mind-splitting climax.

God of War: EPIC

Now that I’ve got some of those out of the way – I can go on with my own writing. Hopefully, September will be a good harvest of numbers.