Am I the only one who feels the franchise peaked with the 2nd game? I mean, this series has a place for me, but its mostly the fresh feeling I got from the PS2 games back when it was new. GoW2 is in my top 50 favorite games ever, in fact! God of War 1 was bought because I heard good things and cuz I was craving an Action-adventure with combat and puzzles and quality presentation. The unrelenting angry mood was innovative and the music was 1st rate.
GoW2 came out and took the level to 10. The kills were cooler, there were finally more bosses, big and small, you could wield multiple weapons, the music was even better, and the puzzles were tighter. Two things to note - For one, the plot introduced a higher stakes goal of changing fate, when I heard I was supposed to go after the Sisters of Fate of all mythological beings, I was like "oh shit just got real". Also, your new enemy was Zeus and Olympus, while you sided with the mothafuggin Titans of Greek mythology. All the while Athena was kinda on your side just to spice things up. Simple plot, but awesome stakes for those with even the slightest knowings of Greek mythology.
The 2nd notable thing was that the locations of this game were better than all other GoW games before and since. You start off at Rhodes in the series' trademark great openings. Then we get a flying sequence, to pitstop at the Ice Titan's lair. We even fight the dude, sorta. Then we do another flying sequence to the Isle of Fates. While this Isle was basically the rest of the game, it had more diversity in visuals and tasks than Pandora's Tower from GoW1. Plus, a detour to Atlas underneath for a portion of the game. In GoW3, I felt Mount Olympus just wasn't as compelling, and I think they stuck in Hades Underworld for the 3rd (?) time just to add a little more diversity. The handheld titles' areas were fine (and had good final acts), but didn't come close to GoW2.
To top it off, after going through boss battles with several notable names including Perseus and the Barbarian King and the Sisters themselves, we get one of the best (if not the best) cliffhanger endings in gaming. A very literal cliffhanger, but still, that scene was done so well, just rewatch it on youtube to see what I mean. Maybe it's the magic rainbow that sprinkled upon basically every game that happened in 2007, but I was seriously impressed by GoW2 above the other entries. I hope Ascension brings back the diversity of areas found in GoW2, and even if Kratos doesn't travel much, I hope the location he spends time in is comparable to Isle of Fates.
Also, with Ascension being the 3rd/4th entry to go "backwards" in the timeline, why haven't they made a game with Kratos as a normal Spartan, before he slaughters his wife and child. If they're gonna make a prequel, I'd want to play that chapter. Have him slightly disempowered, an above-average Spartan human who leads an army, doesn't use Blades of Chaos for once, swears to Ares at some climactic point in the Barbarian battle, gets the blades and we're in business, does stuff for Ares, meanwhile conquers lands for the glory of Sparta, then ends in a tragic slaughter of wife/child...and possibly have the player do it themselves...even better if the game finds a way to make you do it on accident. I mean, GoW3 did succeed in tricking me into beating up Zeus for 3 minutes straight out of primal rage, not giving him a chance to breathe and making sure I do the most damage I could (damn I feel horrible typing that). I think it could work if done right. A prequel before the family slaughter would have a much different tone, and a less powerful Kratos who only grows more noticeably superhuman throughout.
So am I alone in loving GoW2 the most? Or was the 1st game's freshness more valuable than the sequel's improvements. Or did the franchise figuratively "Peak" with the 3rd game's journey up Mt. Olympus?