Each month the Cinelinx staff will write a handful of articles covering a specified video game-related topic. These articles will be notified by the Gamerlinx banner. Gamerlinx, like our Movielinx counterpart, is an exploration and discussion of our personal connections with the world of gaming. This month our Gamer’s Club is putting the spotlight on Sony’s seminal console, the PlayStation 1, so for Gamerlinx we wanted take a look at the best first-party Sony games to have ever been release (through all generations).
The hype surrounding God of War‘s initial release was pretty large, having strong showings at E3 and just about everywhere else. Everyone was looking forward to playing it and seeing what all the buzz was about. I can tell you now, I was exactly prepared for what we got. God of War gave gamers a truly cinematic experience with crazy polished gameplay mechanics. It was seamless, and for many gamers, perhaps this was the most impressive aspect. I know it was for me.
For the longest time, gamers had to sit through loading screens and all manner of delays that broke up the gaming experience. It was a simple fact of life and many gamers had come to expect it and deal with it. God of War broke from that mold, and offered us something we hadn’t experienced before; a cohesive gaming experience with without interruptions. The ability to move from level to level without having to wait on a load screen may seem commonplace now, but it was unheard of back then.
More than just the lack of load times, the gameplay was ridiculously fun. Yes, it’s possible to go through the game by doing nothing more than mashing buttons, but the mechanics allowed for something far deeper than that. That’s part of the beauty of the game’s design, even if you weren’t a hardcore gamer you could still pick it up and have a lot of fun with it. However, the combat system allowed for a level of mastery, stringing combos together, swapping weapons, and generally being awesome, if you had the skill level to accomplish it.
It was a good balance accentuated by how polished the final product was. Everything flowed smoothly between fighting, puzzle solving, and transitioning between play time and cutscenes. From a technical standpoint, God of War was splendid and beyond anything we’d seen up to that point.
Let’s look beyond the technical aspects for a moment and swap to the game’s story. As I mentioned, God of War offered up a very cinematic experience and a big part of that had to do with the story. It was epic in scale, which is befitting the Greek mythology it’s based on, and presented itself more like a Hollywood blockbuster. It had a solid lead character, with a tragic and interesting background you couldn’t help but become enraptured by. Just the premise of finding a way to bring down a god, was interesting, and it was filled with mythology everyone knows and loves, but with unique twists to fit in the new characters. It was an impressive feat of storytelling, and despite the many sequels, I still feel the original God of War’s story is among the strongest.
In terms of being exclusive to Sony, this is one of their best and has been paying off for them for the last several years. God of War released fairly close to the end of the console’s cycle but demonstrated the PlayStation 2’s performance capabilities. The game’s strong narrative component and open ending left the door wide open for a franchise across all their platforms. While some will argue that the franchise has seen a significant decrease in quality over the years (a sentiment I’d largely agree with), there’s no denying the impact it’s had for Sony and their development studios.
I for one still believe there’s viability in the God of War franchise, but I think it’s necessary for them to push the boundaries of gameplay once again. A big part of the original game’s success stemmed from it’s innovation and the things it did to move the industry forward. There’s no telling what the future holds for the series, but no matter how diminished you may feel the latter games have become, the original is still a highlight for Sony and it’s PlayStation 2 system.
Be sure to check out last week’s Gamerlinx article, taking a look at Naughty Dog’s Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, and leave your thoughts on this week’s in the comments below!