I need you back Kratos. I got angry about the Great British Bake Off the other week and I’ve started shouting at the houseplants again because they refused to match my play-style to a character class in Destiny. I’m a tetchy and agitated man, Kratos. I need to indulge in jovial video game violence and wake anew. Just chuck a minotaur our way so I can dance around its throat like a psycho dentist again. I promise it will fix us right up. There’s a good lad.
God of War 3 is the ultimate pallet cleanser. After smashing, gutting and ripping apart every hellish creature in sight, there’s an odd feeling of reinvigoration. Like all you’re previous stresses have suddenly dissipated into the atmosphere like a shitty Airwick. You might need to take a few moments to remember attaching kitchen knives to a set of bungee cords isn’t the most pragmatic way to replicate the thrill outside the gaming world, but over the course of six bloody hours you’re somehow purified of all your seething rage. It’s amazing what punching the face of Zeus can do.
It’s therapeutic qualities shine even brighter in this trimmed and refined third instalment. The game length is shorter, the action finally lives up to its epic potential with staggering boss set-pieces and everything looks stunning under the HD graphical sugarcoat. From beginning to end, it’s easily the most thrilling of the trilogy. Blasting you from the clutches of Hades onto the back of a Goliath in a blood-gushing heartbeat.
What makes God of War so special however isn’t just the rush of the action. Sure it helps, but a lot of attention is paid to dressing it all up in a cohesive and satisfying package. Surprisingly clever puzzles creep up amidst the frenzy and while the story often amounts to Kratos simply being pissed off, it is a lot more engaging than many of the po-faced narratives triple A titles normally shoot for. There’s a loveably self aware silliness to God of War, and you can almost hear the guys at Santa Monica Studios chuckling away as you gouge out the eyes of Poseidon with the analogue sticks.
My own lasting memory of God of War 3 is its closing segment; hammering the circle button and watching as you pound Zeus with a flurry of fists until blood is literally blinding your vision on screen. What I didn’t realise is you do this for as long as you wish, and you only initiate the ending credits once you stop the beating. I did this for about 20 minutes, feeling queasy at initial concerns the game had crashed and thinking maybe, just maybe, the ridiculous team who designed this won’t let my experience end until my thumbs convulse out of their sockets.
It was only after some trembling internet research I actually stopped, which made me wonder what would have happened if this kind of mechanic crept up back in 80s or some other pre-internet time period. I’d probably still be there now, writing cover letters with the tip of my nose while stirring a pot of pasta between my toes. Those guys at Santa Monica are bastards. Beautiful, sick bastards.
So for all those who probably don’t read this and believe video game violence is a corruptive part of society. I’d like to riposte your accusations with God of War: the stress ball of video games. Everyone builds up a little bit of anger or frustration inside them, it’s part of the human condition. Now through the wonders of technology we can pile those feelings behind a mythical God who can slice through centaurs like wet lettuce. We should all thank God of War really. All its outrageous violence was just to make the world that little bit more pleasant for us all.
So thank you, God of War.
And thank you, video game violence. :)