This week on Zero Punctuation, God of War: Chains of Olympus.
Chains of Olympus is a PSP-exclusive prequel instalment in the God of War series, a bunch of games that combine an (at best) loose understanding of Greek mythology with a level of violence that hovers somewhere between "excessive" and "completely off its tits." If nothing else, there's no better series for working off frustration, which is handy, because I certainly have a lot to work off after I've been playing with a PSP for a while, when my index fingers are locked into hideous hook shapes, fit only for picking out the crumbs of filth that gather in the stupid analogue pad thing that my thumb keeps slipping off, like I'm trying to clumsily finger a robot prostitute, but I digress. There'll be plenty of time to beat on the PSP when I'm capable of making a fist again.
This review is probably going to end up as a general retrospective of the entire God of War series, because frankly, review one game, you've reviewed them all. You play pasty historical misery-guts Kratos, a Spartan warrior with a preposterous jawline, who works as a sort of independent contractor for the Olympian gods, specializing in killing things that would need to go on a starvation diet for years before they could be classified as humongous. You're hurled into a pitched battle right from the start, just in case you thought you were playing something with a modicum of restraint, and before long it's revealed that one or more gods have gone off the straight-and-narrow, and it's up to you brutalize them back into line. On the way, you'll kill enough blameless innocents to fill a decent-sized Parthenon, meet a few mythological creatures and tear their limbs off, and chances are good you'll die and go to Hades at some point, but it's OK, you generally just walk out again. In fact, Kratos does that with such reliability, they might as well install a revolving door.
There's some variation early on, but sooner or later, every God of War game goes through the same motions. You always end up at the Temple of Such-and-Such having to prove your worth, which is another thing Kratos has to do with anomalous frequency; makes me wonder why he didn't ask for a signed certificate after the first time. I'm not really sure how I feel about the rigidly unchanging formula though, because while forcing the same minotaur to give your dagger a terminal blowjob does get old after a while, I'm always the first to cry foul when developers wipe their dicks all over a good thing just for innovation's sake. And there's nothing about God of War that really needs changing. It all fits quite nicely together, like furious blood-stained Stickle Bricks.
Well, OK, there are certainly more than a few nitpicks I could make, and I wouldn't be the critic I like to think I am if I didn't furiously pick nits like an amphetamine-fuelled chimp. The fixed camera gets annoying when there are enemies off screen, at least half the spells and attacks you get loaded down with throughout the game generally prove to be bloody useless, around weaker enemies there's really no reason to use anything other than the instant-kill grab attack, or as I like to call it, the "Fuck You" button, and there's a terrible habit of having unskippable cutscenes just before really hard boss fights, because obviously after getting our gonads shoved down our throats, watching the same tedious dialogue play out a sixth time is just the kind of respite we need.
I've just realized I haven't even mentioned what kind of game it is yet, because I assume most viewers already know. But if you're one of those girlfriends of viewers, who don't actually play games but likes watching these videos anyway because they secretly want to fuck me, God of War is basically Devil May Cry meets Ray Harryhausen, but with less of the stop-motion plasticine of the latter or the smirking buggercunts of the former. And like Devil May Cry, what we're really here for is the combat, which as I've already said, is satisfying to the point of eroticism. There's something almost balletic about Kratos swinging his chains around, disembowelling a succession of gurgling dance partners, and there's actually skill to it. Mashing square and triangle will serve up to a point, but sooner or later you'll have to start learning how to get around attack patterns, you know, like you've actually got a brain and shit.
But I think what I like most about the combat is that it fits the character so well. It's like after they finished animating a sequence in which the player bites off a minotaur's face, they thought to themselves, "Well, there's really no way we can characterize this guy as anything other than a brutal psychotic", so they just rolled with it. He's not particularly deep, and he's not particularly congruous, especially when he starts whining about his poor mistreated family while cutting green healing blobs out of wailing bystanders, but Kratos' sheer unbridled horribleness offers an appealing holiday from our namby-pamby civilised selves. Which, along with most of us unwittingly living in an emasculated conformist nightmare world, is nice to have now and then, if only to stave off suicide for another few hours by running around in our pants mangling passers-by like a human smoothie-maker. In a game, I mean.
So after all that, let's return to our tissue-thin veneer of consumer advice and talk about whether Chains of Olympus is worth getting. Well, if you felt God of War needed to be about four or five hours longer, then go for it, but you wouldn't be missing much if you held out for a PS2 port. Don't expect anything new, but it's still fun, especially if you picture all the monsters as your childhood bullies. Yes, how do you like that, Brian Paine? We'll see how many dead legs you can give me when you've got a priceless historical artefact sticking out of your bonce!
God of bore: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
I want to know how it's become accepted fact that Spartan warriors ran around in their underpants
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