I've been a gamer all my life. I could play a Mario game before I could say his name. I stuck with the NES and SNES far past their prime, which eventually became standard practice for me. I'm not an early adopter. I was rocking N64 Smash Bros. when all the cool kids were playing Jak and Daxter. I've still never played Jak and Daxter.
So it took me until late 2011 to actually dig into the PS3. I'd played the big black Blu-ray box before, but when my girlfriend upgraded, I got to reap the benefits. Now, she was a fan of the PS2 God of War games, and bought the remastered “Origins” collection to both introduce me to the series, and play the side games she missed.
Now, this wasn't quite my first time with Kratos. I'd tried the PSP Chains of Olympus before, but the controls felt clunky and wrong. I didn't know at the time that this was because of the lost analog stick, all I knew was that I wasn't having fun. But beyond the clumsy dodging implementation, Kratos himself seemed lacking. The chained blades felt too basic, too shallow. So I shrugged it off as just another game that tried to impress simpletons with tits and blood. Not for me.
No, I don't have any titles in mind, Ubisoft. Why do you ask?
But at milady's behest, I kept going. And by the end of Chains of Olympus, I was actually having fun. The game that turned me off the series in the first place showed me all the ways I was wrong. Kratos's simplicity, I realized, is complemented by enemy complexity. The character's predictable strikes let the player focus on the action around them instead of wrestling with themselves. Even Kratos's simplicity hid a layer of depth inside its cancelable animations, emphasis on positioning, and invincible executions.
So I kept going, finishing Chains, Ghost, GoW I, II, and III over the next year and a half. It's a formulaic series, to be sure, but a consistently good one.
But what stood out to me the most in all this was that in the face of all the blood, mythology, and yelling, God of War was a videogame that loved videogames. I mean, intimately understood and bonded with them.
It was a strange revelation, but the proof was there. The gods and titans my questgivers, I ventured into the temples of the Olympians to crawl the (surprisingly polished and clever) dungeons, level up, get the loot, and save the [s]princess[/s] brother. Anita would be proud.
It probably sounds obvious. OF COURSE a videogame feels like a videogame. What shocked me was how I'd missed it. The fixed camera, gleeful violence, and QTEs just seemed stupid. A game that does those things isn't trying to be a game. It's trying to be bloody violence porn.
And, okay, it's that too. But under that mask is a quality series. One that introduced me to several new game design concepts and tools I wouldn't have given a second thought to. On a somewhat tangential note, it started me on the beauty of HD collections. God of War gave rise to ICO/SotC, Ratchet and Clank, Prince of Persia, and next up, hopefully, is Devil May Cry.
I guess the moral of the story is that sometimes it's worth going back to games you hated. I would have missed out on both God of War and Prince of Persia, and they're both among my favorites now. I'm even learning to be okay with Final Fantasy. Mostly.
I love videogames. They've been with me all my life, and I've got lots to say about them. I wanted to get some good, high-quality pictures for this entry, but a camera and a TV are no substitute for a good screencap. Maybe it'd be easier to illustrate my points with a snazzy new capture card. If I am chosen, I'll start off with either 3d action games, like God of War, or fighters, like UMvC3 or SSF4. I've also got a friend who's been talking about making Let's Plays, so that's not an impossibility. Thanks for your consideration anyway, and I hope you enjoyed the read.