On the Ball: Like God of War, But …

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Wow why are so many people boning over GoW recently >.<

Um... because the latest GoW game JUST came out a week ago maybe?

Well i can understand fanboys doing it, but i'd expect journalists to not be so blatantly biased xD

I see some misconceptions in these comments and being the dick that I am, I am going to try and correct them.

Most notably is the argument that God of War (or any other title that carry the "like xxxxx but" mark) did not do all the things first and other games did it before. This is a null argument as the "like xxxxx but" marker is not based on originality. As all the things in gaming originality has value but it is not the end all and catch all measuring stick. To take an excellent example of this I present Blizzard. Blizzard does not make original games. They take other peoples ideas and polish them to a mirror shine (they don't always succeed but they do most of the time). Starcraft and Warcraft were not the first rts's but they epitomised the best the genre had to offer at the time. Since then better games has come out but they still stand tall in the minds of gamers (that can remember those times). Diablo was not the first of its kind either but again the mix of visceral action, treasure and leveling made the title stand out. The story wasn't bad either (not good but not bad either) and the mood was unsurpassed. And the there is WoW. No on can deny that World of Warcraft at this time is the game most people think of when they hear MMO. It is so well established that some gamers accused Warhammer Online of copying WoW in its design. GoW did the same. Game mechanics, story, mood, storytelling, voice directing, level design and design in general came together and created what was ultimately a game that was greater than its parts. And that is the key: "greater than its parts".

Which brings me to another argument: But this or that game does this thing better.
Well I have kinda given the punchline here, but I will cover it anyhow. Yes DMC is the best at the "fling enemies into the air and do stuff to them" style of combat. I personally like to shoot enemies with the grenade launcher even though it does not give that many points. However the rest of the game doesn't live up to the combat. It is a long sequence of set pieces fights, it never really shakes up the flow of the gameplay to do something else for a moment, the story is hard to follow or even understand, the voice acting is bad, the characters are two dimensional, the mood is kinda the same all the way through and the enemies - well ok the enemies are actually pretty great at least in the start (the string-puppets and the garden tool ghost). And there you have it. DMC does one thing better and one thing just as well and the rest is just not up to snuff. So let me reiterate: "the sum is greater then the parts."

Now lets move on. Why do some games get the - shall we call it mark - while others do not? It is a matter of polish and again the greater whole. Let us take Gears of War. The cover-to-cover type of gaming was pioneered by this game. It was well implemented, nicely polished and it was used throughout both the first game and the sequel with interesting tweaks in different set piece fights (the worms in GoW2 come to mind). However Gears of War is not a cover-game. It is a third-person shooter game. As such it had to have other parts to make it work and in all honesty it did them pretty well (I must admit I never really enjoyed the game without having a buddy sitting next to me but when he was there it was great fun). It actually did it so well that it got the mark for a time but it lost it fairly quickly. The reason was the even though the cover mechanic was cool and well done, and even if the rest of the game was good enough it turned out that other games could do it just as well. Wanted showed that there was much more interesting things to do with cover based combat. It was just too bad that after they showed they could do it they fucked it up again (which ultimately made this game blow badly). Later we saw call of Juarez Bound in Blood come with an even greater presentation of the mechanic (you didn't use a button to go into cover and you could poke out slowly from cover). And of course there was Uncharted. What basically happened was that Gears of War got crowded out as it did not have the incredible polish that God of War has. God of War has only recently been challenged on it and those challenges have in my opinion led directly to this discussion. As it stands now God of War reigns supreme in the brawler genre still but a spoiler has shown that even a godking can bleed.

So to summarize: It is not about being original or doing one thing really well. It is about making a complete experience that is greater then the sum of its parts.

I still don't see how God of War is the standard. I always figured everyone agreed DMC was the standard. Why is God of War the standard? Do we have a committee to decide these things? DMC had locked cameras, and IMO it's combat is superior to God of War's in every single way.

Why would I have what, in my eyes is an inferior game as the standard which to set everything?

Also, let's be fair. God of War is VERY similar to Rygar. What's that? You haven't played it? How about you let these two chaps put it in perspective for you:

God of War did NOTHING original.

Yet it's constantly hailed as amazing and every game that's LIKE God of War is ostracized because of it's similarities. Why, then, does God of War get off scot fucking free?

I just literally cannot believe people simply IGNORE things like this. Not even just casual players. Members of the press should KNOW these things, they should have played these games. I can't possibly be the only person whose recognized the similarities of God of War and Rygar and it just blows my mind that people whose job it is day in and day out to write about video games just don't KNOW about these games. You should! Even if you haven't played them, you should know they exist. They aren't hiding, they aren't unknown.

How do these things happen? I'm really losing my faith in gamers of all walks of life.

I just watched that video and boy are you right. It seems to me that GOW has paid handsome sums of money for all the gaming media attention it has gotten over the years. Lets call it for what it is, a game where you run around and beat up monsters. Whats original about that? Sure the game is fun, but so are lots of games.

John Funk:

How do these things happen? I'm really losing my faith in gamers of all walks of life.

Because God of War took it and made it good?

So you're saying God of War is, "Like Rygar, but better?" Actually I guess if they "took it" then it should just be, "Rygar, but better." Which does sound like a description for Rygar II if it's a sequel that improves on the original.

I guess if you two are agreeing then there's no argument? >.>

if reviewer thinks it might be better for some people thnan the game he compares it to, he should use "like xxx and it has yyy"

FPSs are all now considered "like Halo but.."

Any objections?

It was the first polished entry in the genre, Doom wasn't the first FPS either but it got the tag. I don't even know if the tag is really that sticky I always say "Like DMC but" even after I've tagged Bayonetta as "Like DMC but much better"

This is nearly what I was going to say, so I'm going to quote it and ride on its coat-tails. And now, exactly what I was going to say:

I'm wondering if it's because we haven't really come up with a 'proper' name for the genre beyond "third-person brawler" which is very broad and doesn't really describe what GoW or DMC or whatever is- Shenmue is arguably a third-person brawler, but you'd hardly put it next to either of the other games.

I'm thinking this because I've got a handful of mid-90's games magazines that, when pressed for a genre to fit what we now call First Person Shooters, they use the term "Doom clone" or "Doom game". Are we just waiting for a better name to come along? And should we use Yahtzee's "Spectacle Fighter" name, or is that something else still?

I still really like the first action game of this genre I ever played: Spartan - Total Warrior. The one thing it did better than GoW was weapons. Once acquired, there was a sword and shield, dual swords, a warhammer, a polearm and each one had a unique special ability. The sword and shield could turn your enemies into stone (medusa style) the dual swords allowed you to quickly zip between targets and deliver a lethal jab, the hammer I sorta forget but I think it did a big explosion thing sending people flying, and the polearm... um I think it just became super lethal or something. Anyway, that was awesome. And they had arena battles as a side feature to the main game, somewhat Batman: AA style but much bigger. Speaking of Batman, I really like and even prefer it's method of freeflow combat to God of War button mashing. GoW combat is really quite simplistic which to me is only ok.

Either way I'll probably be picking up GoW3 sometime soon as it should still be an epic adventure.

On the topic of genres, maybe we just need a formula like perspective - main gameplay element - secondary gameplay element. So you might get "3rd person shooter adventure" for Uncharted 2, or "1st person shooter action" for CoD, and "3rd person role playing real time combat" for FF XIII. We should come up with something like that.

John Funk:
Because God of War took it and made it good?

Tadaa! See children, short and simple answers do exist.

DMC pioneerd the hack n' slasher, but as we saw with DMC4 the gameplay concept doesn't really hold up very well anymore.
I GoW the combat isn't very deep and complex, but it doesn't need to be. It only needs to give you enough options to deal with any situation the game throws at you. Plus, the combat always keeps reminding you of what kind of character Kratos is while at the same time being fun and simple.

And ultimately it shows Greek Mythology the way I've always wanted to see it; dark, violent and with colorful characters.

It makes me so happy to see Spartan: Total Warrior appear in a couple of posts here. That is one of my favorite games in this genre. Great weapons, the combat was better (it was more a strategic, boxing-like, back and forth with each enemy), and the HUGE battles were awesome (hundreds of allies and enemies all killing each other independently, in real time).

Seriously, if you like God of War, check out Spartan: Total Warrior. It rocks, but be warned, it can KICK YOUR ASS. It's about 10x harder.

On Topic: Why is God of War the paragon of the "Spectacle Brawler"? Is it because it's better? Maybe. I would argue that Spartan is better though.

No the truth is that it's because of the game's massive popularity (sales figures), unanimous critical praise, easy accessibility to the casual-core crowd (halo/madden-ites) (the game is pretty easy), and familiar setting. Almost every other game mentioned in this thread lacks some component of this list.

Afterall, history is written by the victors. And when it comes to popularity, God of War is the victor of the 3rd person brawler.

I take issue with the fact that the industry uses the moniker of "like GOW but" for games that it is completely inappropriate for. Bayonetta is not like God of War. The only similarities is the third person perspective. That's about it. Yet I read a few reviews for what I would consider a valid outlet (IGN, GameInformer, and the like) that slap that in the intro paragraph. Darksiders is not like God of War. Now Dante's Inferno: that's like God of War.

I think if we're honest it's not that hard to say why GoW has become the brawler standard and it's not that complicated.

The game uses western combat and character design sensibilities. That's it.

A lot of people are saying that GoW did what DMC did but made it "good", stating this like it's a fact. Personally, I disagree, as both DMC3 and Ninja Gaiden came out before GoW and I enjoyed every aspect of both of those games more than God of War.

I don't really get what the big deal is, GoW doesn't do anything amazingly well really. My main problem is the combat, which is pretty important as that is the focus of the gameplay in all of these titles (the puzzles are distraction and we all know it). The enemies in GoW are big, but I don't get how they're called "epic" so often. The QTEs take pretty much all of the rush and excitement out of the fights because the designers say the fight has to end with a big gory special move that totally takes control away from the player. Nero's bosses in DMC4 and Bayonetta both have this same problem too, but they both compromise with the mechanic (with Nero you don't have to do them at all, and Bayonetta's allow the player to change the animation by extending the attack and some later boss' climaxes make the player manually control the attack with a new control scheme instead of just flashing up QTE's). Also, on the whole, everything is just too easy. The games doesn't really pose any challenge unless cranked up to the highest difficulty.

The enemies in GoW are big, but I don't get how they're called "epic" so often.

The massive overuse of the word "epic" could probably be a thread and article all its own. I don't know if the reasoning behind it could be neatly laid out in some form to resolve this confusion here.

I'll try anyway: somewhere in the progression of gaming (particularly online gaming) something new and impressive in scale and design was described as "epic," a number of people found the word fun to say and started using it to label things that they liked and it simply spread from there until its meaning degraded to the point of describing anything "cool" or "big" or "somewhat shiny when placed under fluorescent lights," the end result being that now you will see things called epic for no apparent reason if you think of the word in its original context.


After all, we've watched developers create new iterations of pretty much the same first-person shooter for the last 15 years, but no single title or series has risen up to claim the title of "FPS Archetype."

Just to nitpick... but after doom came out for several years all FPS games were deemed "Doom Clones"

Apart from that excellent article :D

Which is funny because quite a few FPS's after Doom were exceptionally better. (Though in its time I LOVED Doom)

Modern FPS's though have been so painfully stagnant.

I liken them to swimming in the olympics. You put in just as much work as everyone else but get WAY more credit.

Anytime a FPS gets 'game of the year' it stings my soul a little because of how little effort anyone (besides the graphics team) puts into them anymore compared to other projects.

Maybe there is more than a remote probability that this article overthinks God of War's appeal. It could be that the gameplay is just a pleasant (though compared to other entries in what loosely passes for a genre it is related to, it is looking pretty rough these days)bonus to the real main attraction.
What is that main attraction? Kratos is Tyler Durden.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92ZE62jnW28&feature=related
The makers of the Fight Club game can only dream of so perfectly capturing the essence of a wish-fulfillment figure of Tyler's ilk as Sony did and they had the blasted licensing rights to actually use the likeness of Tyler himself!
After so many years of either selfless paragons,mute protagonists flawed,conflicted heroes/anti-heroes,lots of players just wanted a protagonist who is everything that everyone,whether they have ever played a game or not, always imagined that videogame main characters are supposed to be.

He's ruggedly handsome yet he still has enough scars and tattoos to give players the impression that he isn't some pain-averse dandy. He's so smooth with the ladies that he doesn't even need to waste a second with trivialities such as foreplay or dialogue. He doesn't take guff from anyone, not even the gods themselves and he's more than tough enough to do something about it. He has a backstory filled with gory glory, establishing him as one of the ultimate tough guys among tough guys but not so soft that he looks like some whiner who is pouty because his charmed life hit a minor hitch.

If Dave Jaffe had any shame about putting his ideal self into a game*,Sony of America wouldn't have their Western equivalent to the giant sword weilding pretty boy that works so well in the East.
*Watch the making of God of war video to hear it from Jaffe himself. tropes aren't bad, right?

That leads to the question: why don't other action-adventure videogames just give players what they want instead of forcing the director/designer's vision down their throats without even waiting for the button prompt to appear over the players' heads?

For the record, First person shooters where origonally referred to as "Doom Clones" before finally establishing the FPS title. Doom was the first extremely popular 1st person shooter which many other companies tried to emulate. I think it might be of been around the time Half Life came out that the FPS title was set in stone since there where so many of them.

I saw someone retardedly refer to the first wolfenstien game as a "Doom Clone" despite Wolfenstien coming out about 3 or 4 years prior to it.

Halo Fanboy:
FPSs are all now considered "like Halo but.."

Any objections?

I object. Halo is considered a First Person Shooter, a genre which as been done and done better many many times before.

I think it might be of been around the time Half Life came out that the FPS title was set in stone since there where so many of them.

I could swear I remember the early Quake games being referred to as first-person shooters...but that was a while ago. I might just be filling in blanks in my memory.

Nice article, thanks:)

I've always thought that as gamers we liken games to other games in order to communicate our ideas better. We use a difining series of games like GoW because it's attributes are so far reaching. In useing such a widely popular model we are making our ideas more accessible.

I'm really impressed with GoW3. The level design is sencond to none.
Does anyone remember the level design in Soul Reaver? With it's gothic towers and warping scenary.

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