“Bitter Seeds” by: Ian Tregillis – Book Review

 

Bitter Seeds 1

The Premise:

In an alternate history of Earth, in the years after the Great War, deep in the heart of Germany, a mysterious doctor takes two orphans into his home with nefarious purposes. In England, one young boy is brought into a dark family secret, and another is found and raised by a spymaster who sees great promise in him.

Years pass and the clouds of war come again. The Spanish Civil War is a petri dish for the Nazis where they are testing a new secret weapon – super powered humans. The British catch wind and they begin their own counter initiative. Their weapon against the “Jerries?” Warlocks, and the powers of the otherworldly beings they call upon.

World War II has begun.

 

The Short of It:

This is a great book, but I think the way it plays out won’t match the expectations of someone reading the basic description. In many ways, the strategy and progress of the war effort are just flavoring or a background to what is ultimately the focus of the book, which is the personal lives and conflicts of certain members of each side’s secret organization. Those who enjoy the setting and flavoring of WWII, but are mostly interested in sharp characters, intrigue, action, and a blend of nerdy genres will enjoy the book.

The Long of It:

Continue reading

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“Mass Effect 3” – Review


The most incredible space opera of our generation comes to a mostly satisfying close.

March 13, 2012 – Star Wars and Star Trek have long dominated the mindshare of popular culture in the science fiction realm. They had a right to. Both told epic stories from the small screen to the silver screen, exploring the wonders of the stars. But as time passed, with Star War’s fall from grace, the lack of Star Trek dominance on television, and with the rise of new media, other stories have stepped forward to take forth the banner of science fiction space operas. But none of them come close to the marvel that is the Mass Effect series.

Mass Effect 3 sees the return of the Reapers to the Galaxy, a doomsday warned of by Commander Shepherd and her stalwart crew, and now, with Earth and the Galaxy as a whole crumbling before everyone’s eyes, no one can doubt any more. Commander Shepherd must not only rally her crew mates, but now the entire Galaxy to fight off this dire threat to the existence of all civilization. It will not be an easy task. Shepherd will have to bridge over old animosities, bring peace to disparate factions, and forge alliances where once was open hatred and war.

The story that Mass Effect weaves is astonishing in scope, certainly, but equally as amazing is the quality with which it is achieved. Watching as Shepherd finds ways to bridge the gaps between the races is believable, and set in the foundation of information being built from Mass Effect 1 onward. The Genophage, the Geth, Cerberus – all of these issues have been present since the first game, and how they play out in the last feels natural and brilliant. What should be impossible is made possible, and the choices of the past come back to either haunt or strengthen Shepherd’s cause.

The game does a remarkable job portraying the costs of war.


The characters are similarly brilliantly portrayed. The dialogue, not just between Shepherd and the crew, but also between the crew mates themselves, is terrifically done. Each character is unique, wonderfully realized and either likeable or despicable based on their own terms. The authenticity of each character is never something questioned by the player. They have become real.

In my time with Garrus, Liara and the rest, I felt like I truly knew them. The new faces make welcome additions also. Vega, a character I was initially worried about, turned out to be a hilarious and colorful addition. Cortez provided another facet altogether, not prone to any stereotypes or bravado, he felt like a real person. This was especially important due to his status as one of the two homosexual characters in the game.

Old characters return, even if only for brief missions and cameos, and more often than not you’ll wish you could spend more time with them. Some of these characters have even moved on to different stages of their lives, and don’t rejoin the crew for believable reasons. Some have decided to settle down, others may be wrapped up in their own issues, and still others may be slowly waiting for death. You aren’t the center of these characters’ universes (for all that the game places such a responsibility on Shepherd’s shoulders), and that makes the world feel that much more real.

Now, all of this said, the story and characterization takes an abrupt turn for the worse at the very end of the game. If you have already played the game, and do not mind spoilers, you can read my analysis of the endings At My Main Blog, as well as some further analysis of what went wrong at the Rough Writers Blog. I can hardly imagine a player who won’t be disturbed on some level concerning the endings, so I have to mention it.

To put it in vague terms, for those avoiding spoilers, there is little real choice at the end of the game for the player, no matter how the player has played the game. Paragon, Renegade, it doesn’t really matter, the choices are the same, with very small differences. Also, forget closure. There is little to none. There are positive things in the endings. Some good nuggets that I cling to. But they are largely outweighed by the flaws.

It is one thing to have a bitter sweet ending. Bitter-sweet is laudable, especially given the context of the Reaper invasion. It is another thing entirely to have no good endings at all.

Forgetting for a moment DLC and any other possible ways Bioware may still fix these problems, the question remains: Despite the ending, was the game worth it?

The answer is unquestionably yes. I laughed and cried my way through the entire game. The bonds I had built over three games, the emotional investment, payed off in so many little ways. The journey of getting to the end was incredible, and easily one of the best journeys in gaming and in entertainment period. Mass Effect is on the same level for me as Star Wars and Star Trek – perhaps greater. It certainly has more of my emotions twisted up in it.

“Story story, character character, blah blah… how does it play?” – You might ask (you monster). Well, it plays a whole lot like Mass Effect 2. Nearly identically. However, it must be said that some elements of the controls have been smoothed out, and some RPG elements dropped from the first game have made a return. There are a lot more and varied weapons again, with modifications to boot. The leveling system has also gained some needed choice and variety to let the player decide exactly how they want to fight.

Surprisingly, the Kinect works pretty well.


More importantly, the enemy variety and level design have received some significant improvements. The battles I’ve had in Mass Effect 3 were easily the most interesting and intense I’ve had in the series to date. For all its prowess, the Mass Effect series has been said to be an average third-person cover-based shooter, hardly comparable to the likes of Gear of War 3. But with this entry I feel that the series has finally stepped into the the shooter big-leagues, both mechanically and tactically.

The graphics are the best in the series, even if I’ve experienced more bugs than I recall from the first two. There will be multiple times when a conversation will suffer from an inexplicably invisible or flickering squad-mate, or times when Shepherd bugs out and starts flying around Iron-Man style. But in the end, these are minor issues, and nothing like the lag from Mass Effect 2’s Omega Relay sequence is found anywhere.

To top it all off, despite the departure of the last composer, the music of Mass Effect 3 hasn’t suffered one bit. The music is wonderfully done, perfectly tailored to each moment, and drives the emotional crescendos the game will be remembered for. If any game soundtrack deserves a purchase, this would be it.

Closing Comments:
I loved this game. For all the heartbreak I have over the lame endings, the journey there was worth every second. Staying up all night never felt so good. If you haven’t played this game yet, or its predecessors, what are you waiting for? You’re missing out on one of, if not the greatest science fiction space epics of our time. It’ll be hard for anything to top this for game of the year come December. The Mass Effect series has etched its name on my heart.

STAR RATING: (4 & ½ Stars)

Four and one-half Stars

For those of you who stuck around after the rating, I’ve got a extra segment for you called Spoiler Talk. It’s a segment in which I discuss what I thought of certain elements of the story or themes that are too spoilerish or high-concept for the main review. What I say here doesn’t ever trump my review, instead it might give insight into what exactly made me give something the score I did. So let’s get started.

Spoiler Talk:
I feel utterly drained. What a ride. For as much as Bioware has me frustrated about their endings, I must also thank them for the experiences I’ve been able to have through their artistry. I would not trade my time with the Normandy and her crew, my time with Liara, Garrus, Joker, EDI and the others for anything.

Now, to be sure, the endings were pretty bad. Not completely bad, but certainly mostly bad. As for the why’s and wherefores, well I talk about the endings in some detail at both my Main Blog and over at the Rough Writers Blog, as I’ve mentioned before. I won’t be going into any more detail here. I feel like I’ve talked the subject into the ground.

But there is so much to say otherwise! I saw Earth burning, and civilians dying. I saw Palaven burning too. I saw men and women determined to fight for their worlds, and their lives, struggling against beings the size of skyscrapers with power that would make them seem gods. I cured the Genophage. I witnessed the death of a Reaper at the might of a Thresher Maw. I brought peace between the Krogan and the Turians. I passed through a virtual tron-meets-ghostbusters world.

I fought an evil, badass Space-Ninja.

I witnessed the advent of true sentience in the Geth, and brought an end to their long conflict with the Quarians, leaving them both to build their lives together on their newly shared home world. I built an allegiance spanning the whole of the Galaxy, and fielded the grandest fleet in history. I spurred the creation of the mightiest scientific project ever conceived of.

But more importantly… I saw old friends again, and made new ones.

I joked with Vega in the cargo hold. I comforted Cortez over the loss of his husband. I befriended Traynor and watched her turn from an uncertain tech to an irreplaceable crew member. I helped Jacob save his new life protecting a scientist he loved. I helped Wrex move beyond past hatreds on to a brighter future. I witnessed Jack’s redemption and acceptance of new responsibilities. I brought Tali home, where she saw her world for the first time unhindered by her mask. I helped Miranda save her sister from her father. I said goodbye to Thane one last time. I saw Legion sacrifice himself so that his species may evolve to something greater. I watched Moridin find redemption through aiding the Krogan he had wronged, and die in the process.

I watched EDI find meaning in life. And then I watched her and Joker find love in a bold new future, where synthetics and organics are one.

I became best friends with Garrus. A cool-headed, determined and heroic badass, and one of the most amazing characters in gaming, or any other medium. I’ll never forget that time with the Sniper Rifles at the Citadel.

"I'm Edward Cheever, and Garrus is my favorite character in Mass Effect."


My Shepherd worried, mourned, laughed and loved with Liara, and saw her turn from a scared and naïve scientist into the powerful and determined Shadow Broker. And only my Shepherd will ever know her softer side – who she really is at heart.

I sacrificed myself to try and provide a better future for the Galaxy, for my friends, and for Liara – evolving all life to another plane, beyond the dichotomy of synthetic and organic, to something new, something different, something beyond our imagination.

To put into words what all this means to me would be to diminish it. So while Bioware may have failed to bring closure to this life, I will let this simple record stand as a memorial to my Shepherd, and the experiences I had living these experiences through her.

Thanks Bioware. Thanks for what you’ve given me.

“Avatar: The Last Airbender” – TV Show Review (All Books)


It beats the pants off of anything else with the word “Avatar” in the title.

Aug 14, 2010 – There are many, many cartoons that come and go, relying on poor fart jokes, slapstick, simple stories and minimalistic artistry to capture their audience. They spark in the air, fall hard to the ground and get swept off to that watery graveyard of lost memories. But then there are some cartoons that surpass the chaff and show the power of their medium while becoming iconic pieces of popular culture that remain important and enjoyable for all time as works of art. Batman: The Animated Series was one of the best examples of this. It was a show that combined smart writing, voice acting and skillful animation into one grand work that remains a staple of animated television shows now and well into the future. There are not enough animated shows like that. The hall of fame is a small one.

But thankfully, every once and a while, something emerges from the ice of television business to grow into something that bends all the elements of a good show into something more than its parts. Avatar: The Last Airbender is a cartoon show of such caliber as to be inducted into the upper echelons instantly; becoming a classic alongside the aforementioned Batman: The Animated Series and the few others that achieve the same.

I came to the series after having watched the dreadful M. Night Shyamalan film translation (or butchering, perhaps?) and I admit that the film clouded my first impressions of the series. But as I watched, the values of the show that the film lacked became apparent. Not only was the television format more conducive to the plot structure, but it also allowed for far more time to build characterization and a sense of time and place. Characters who were mere cardboard cut-outs in the film, with wretched dialogue, became greater and more fleshed out. The performances were better, and far more alive. In the biggest turn, the sad Avatar of the film was replaced with the child-like, joyful and yet complex Aang of the TV show. The show may have suffered slightly through the first Book(season) for how much I hated the film, but each season was better than the last, perfectly building upon what came before to set up something deeper and better.

The story is only generic in the sense that certain characters fit archetypes very well, Aang as the happy-go-lucky hero, Zuko as the outcast Prince, Sokka as the straight-guy to the fantasy around him, etc. What makes the show surpass cliché is how well the archetypes are done, with each character fitting the mold naturally according to their situation, personality and the events of the plot, rather than being forcefully adherent to predefined rules of how some character type should act. The terrific character arc for Zuko, taking him from pure adolescent rage born from shame, to his very different emotional range near the end, is especially arresting and gratifying.

The plotting, while being a simple tale of the hero’s journey, and of war between an evil empire and disparate nations, only appears simple from the widest perspective. The way the war is fought and portrayed is far more nuanced than it might appear at first glance. The hero’s journey follows a well worn but somehow never quite predictable path. What would be cliché in a lesser story is made iconic and polished in Avatar: TLA.

The voice acting is top-notch with only a few occasions where things felt too stiff or overdone. The ability of the people behind the voices to convey emotion and subtext far surpasses the ability of the live action counterparts from the recent summer blockbuster. It’s the voice acting that truly sells the already well done dialogue, and it is especially important when a character slips into exposition, which happens regularly enough to notice, but not enough to become annoying.

The animation compliments the story with expressive faces that are unique to each character, wonderful backdrops and smooth frame to frame transition. The style is, as has been noted by many, a blend of Anime and Western design, which could have been a failure, but instead borrows the strengths of both. Whether it was the writers or the animators or perhaps someone else entirely, the animated combat sequences are some of the best, most creative and most fluid I’ve ever seen in a cartoon. In some cartoons, combat is either boring or repetitive. Dragon Ball Z, and many other similar anime shows, waste loads of time with characters staring menacingly at one another while they power up for their next attack. Avatar never wastes time. Each scene is full of new frantic action that uses the environment and abilities of each character as skillfully as such a character might do in real life. And the fights themselves are expressive, carrying far more emotional weight than most fights in cartoons. Altogether, it’s the best action cartoon ever created.

To top everything off, the music is varied, appropriate and memorable. The composer made good use of exotic instruments to accompany the story in such a way as to punctuate the narrative without ever really drawing attention to itself.

Perhaps the strongest aspect of the show is the creator’s ability to know how to limit their story. Some shows will drag on and on forever, creating ever thinner plot threads in an effort to continue their run on television. This show is only three seasons long, despite its monumental success. There are filler episodes here and there, yes. But they are few, and still fun while doing a good job of illuminating characters and motivations. Each season is better than the last, and it has an epic, emotionally satisfying and climactic end.

Closing Comments:

I’m laying down a lot of praise for Avatar: The Last Airbender. While I wonder if I wouldn’t tone down the exclamations of praise a tad with more distance between myself and the show (I’m still on the high of finishing the last episode earlier today,) I know that it will remain one of my favorites even still. If you are an anime fan, a cartoon fan, a fantasy fan, an Asian culture fan, or simply a fan of well told stories, then give this a go. In the end, the best thing I feel I can ever say about a piece of art or entertainment is that I was sad that it was over, and this show fits that qualification thoroughly.

STAR RATING: (5 Stars)

Five out of Five Stars

For those of you who stuck around after the rating, I’ve got a segment called Spoiler Talk. This is a segment in which I discuss what I thought of certain elements of the story that is too spoilerish for the main review. What I say here doesn’t ever trump my review, instead it might give insight into what exactly made me give something the score I did. So let’s get started.

Spoiler Talk:

Whew. That finale was pretty sweet, huh? My favorite part was actually not Aang kicking the Phoenix King’s butt, but rather the portrayal of Azula’s character. Up until the end she was one of the most flatly evil characters of the show, making for an oppressive presence, but with little real character insight other than some vague hints about mommy issues. But the last couple of episodes did a lot to show just how fractured her mind really was. Looking back on the series, you can almost see the cracks showing. In reality she could have exploded into full-on looney bin territory at any time. She was a very fragile individual in the end, and I felt it was shown marvelously.

I’m not certain whom I would label my favorite character, I love them all for different reasons. But if I were forced to choose it might be Zuko, simply because of his wonderful character arc (Yeah, he makes a great good-guy at the end.) Also high on my list would be his uncle Iroh, who would make a perfect grandfather to just about anyone, methinks. Characters that surprised me for how much I liked them in the end included Mae, Zuko’s girlfriend, Sokka, who is easy to write off for being the regular guy of the bunch, and finally Azula, whom I’ve already talked about. I don’t actually like her, but I think she’s a wonderful evil character.

How can you not like Zuko?


Her, and her father’s plan to commit genocide on the Earth Nation was a great way to raise the stakes after the defeat and conquest of Ba Sing Se. That’s something the writers truly knew how to balance well, increasing the danger and stakes every episode while never extinguishing the hope entirely.

Also of note were the White Lotuses. I found their involvement throughout the series to be nicely subtle, with their final appearance to be fun and interesting, though it was completely overshadowed by the other two fronts of the war being fought simultaneously. The fact that Iroh’s presence in the story was decrease severely near the end was necessary for Zuko’s development, but I still missed him.

The episode with the play put on about Aang and the group was also very well done, managing multiple responsibilities creatively. Not only did it give a recap of the story from beginning to end and provide relief from the building tension, but it also gave an opportunity for further character growth, interaction and self-reflection. On top of all that, it showed that the writers are capable of poking fun at their own work, which is endearing on one level, and comforting in another. It reassure the audience that, yes, they do know what they are doing, and every turn of the story is well thought out.

Even the Deus Ex Machina Moments Are Well-Done


There are so many things I could talk about, from how cool the air-ball that Aang can travel on is, to the integration and alienation of the spirit world. I think I’ll refrain from going any further here, however, as there’s only so many hours in an evening.

On one final note, that poor cabbage merchant is one hilarious and long-running gag. I don’t think I ever tired of it.

– Edward L. Cheever II

God of War II Review

FYI, I’m converting all of my future reviews over to my new Star System, for ease of use. Also, I’m not going to strive to be as technical, but instead I’ll just try to give you an impression of what I liked an didn’t like of whatever I review in the future. I’ve decided I’m not a wikipedia entry. I’m just a guy with opinions about games, which other people might want to know.

On to the Review!

“God of War II” Review (GoW Collection Edition)

Sorry, Cliffy, but God of War II beat you to the Bigger Better and More Badass idea.

Jan 20, 2010 – I really likes the first God of War. Perhaps I even borderline loved it. But the first God of War simply can’t compare to the second in most respects. The sequel was better graphically (if only slightly,) and it had better combat and more epic moments.

But before I get to gushing about the parts of the game I loved, let’s first talk about some of the downers. The puzzles simply aren’t as neat or interesting as the first one. In the first game, Pandora’s temple felt like a real masterful labyrinth.  It felt truly crafted to be an excellent puzzle showpiece, with elements like the rotating room to be particularly gratifying. When you figure out one of the original’s puzzles, you really felt like you accomplished something.

In God of War II, the puzzles simply aren’t as engaging or satisfying. They are either very small, one room affairs, or they are merely long chains of “Grab the Keycard” style gameplay. Occasionally a puzzle will stand out, but really, the temples and such are just hallways to slaughter undead and monstrous foes in.

The other downer is that it doesn’t have as much of the flavor of personal loss and emotion as the first one. In that game, your hatred of Ares was really well done because it was tied directly to your personal tragedy. The second game focuses primarily on the betrayal of Zeus and Kratos’ revenge against the gods. It doesn’t have as much weight behind it. Sadness was in many ways just as important an emotion in Kratos’ motivation as his rage was. Now he’s mostly rage.

Yeah, He's Still Mad

That’s not to say that the emotional aspects are altogether missing. Instead, you follow Kratos on an interesting and engaging journey of revenge that is very suitable for its mythological setting. In the first game, you were a Mortal fighting a God, and so the emotions were more human. Now the stage is set between Titans and Gods (Kratos now being a fallen god himself.) The emotional impact takes a backstep only inasmuch as the story becomes that much more mythological, and it is a natural progression for the story.

As God of War III nears, I hope they manage to bring the emotional impact once more down to a human level. We’ll see.

But as for the mythological elements, the game does it all spectacularly. The creative design for the characters and places is great (if a little bland for some of the Titans.) The places you go and the being you interact with become grander and grander. Epic is the only word I can think of to describe it all.

Wow. Just Wow.

The fact that the very first level involves Kratos fighting the Colossus of Rhodes (the Colossus of freaking Rhodes!) is incredible. The scale and power of your enemies is impressive, and will often make you feel like an ant. Climbing up the face of Atlus is quite the experience.

But as amazing as all this is, it’s the gameplay which is the real star. They took the great fighting system from the first game and made it feel even smoother. Combos are slick and easy to pull off without feeling too much like a button masher. I felt in control of the chaos I was causing at all times. I never once felt like I did something I didn’t really want to do. The only time when this wasn’t true was in cases of platforming with the wings of Icarus, which was sometimes a little awkward due to the way the camera works in the game.

Kratos Will Beat Down At All Altitudes

Perhaps the greatest improvement is in the slightly larger window in which to get the quicktime events. In the first game I would fail time and time again because I simply didn’t have enough time to register the symbol on screen and press the button on my controller. Now almost all of the quicktime events are just a tad easier to accomplish and it feels just right for the difficulty. Better yet, the more difficult enemies get, the quicker the quicktime events happen, making the progression in challenge feel believable and acceptable, even when Zeus kicked my butt over and over and over again at the end of the game.

The music and voice acting is as good as it was in the first game, especially for Kratos, though it sometimes seems like they could only afford two female voice actors. I’ll now how God of War music stuck in my head for a few days, but that’s fine with me. It’s good stuff.

Closing Comments:

God of War II is an excellent game. In many ways, though not all, it surpasses the original. This franchise is a classic of modern gaming, especially of the last console generation, and everyone who owns a PS2 should do themselves the favor of checking this one out. Or hey, if you have a PS3 get the God of War Collection. You won’t regret giving God of War II a spin.

STAR RATING:

Four and one-half Stars

God of War Review

The god of action games still sits on his throne.

Oct 17, 2009 – The Santa Monica division of Sony Computer Entertainment has done a fantastic job at crafting a game that screams high production values while delivering excellent gameplay all set in a thoroughly designed world.

The game begins with Kratos committing suicide off of the highest cliff over the sea out of despair. With this powerful first image, the game is told through an extensive flashback that tells the story of what has brought Kratos to this. Flashbacks are used as a narrative device throughout the tale, and despite the fact that the game sets flashbacks within flashbacks, the way it is presented makes perfect sense, never careening off into inscrutable territory. The narrative is clear and strong, even if it is not terribly detailed.

The story itself is a tale of revenge and sadness. For all that the story glories in violence and occasionally sexually charge scenes, themes such as the power of family and the price of war are intrinsically tied into Kratos’ tale. The idea that violence begets violence, or that war begets war, is also a pertinent part of the finale. All told, it is a tale that sits proudly alongside the original Greek stories. Much as the Illiad could be seen to both glorify war and condemn it simultaneously, so too could it be said of God of War, and the game is all the deeper for it.

The setting strengthens the narrative, filling in the background details and giving the mythological tale context, and a suitably believable stage. The scope is epic, with sprawling cities, huge temples and towering enemies and background characters. The visual trickery that leads the player to believe in the size of Kronos is especially impressive. Also, look for a desert setting that, while not that large in reality, comes across as far more expansive and barren because of the limited visibility caused by the sandstorm.

All of this is made possible by some of the best graphics the PS2 has to offer. While there are some prettier games (such as the sequel,) God of war still stands as an achievement of Sony’s last generation capabilities. There were occasional hiccups however, only very occasionally in the frame rate, but more noticeably when the scanning would get out of sink and a bar of offset pixels would run up the screen. I do not know if this was caused by the game itself, as I have no other copy of God of War to compare it to, but it would kick me out of my immersion in the experience whenever it happened.

The game is presented very simply with a compelling title screen, and there are almost no menus in the game at all. There is an upgrades screen that is well crafted in design, even if the orb level system seems a bit awkward in how it all ties together (there is no rhyme or reason to the experience orb levels that I am aware of, why even have them?) There is also a menu screen for game options. There are no other menus in the game that I can think of.

The music is suitably epic and memorable with lots of brass work and percussion. It adds to the exotic feel of the game, and aids immersion. The voice work is similarly well done, though Athena and Kratos can come off as fairly one note (on the plus side, Athena is supposed to be a distant goddess and Kratos does angry really well.) Kratos has some despairing and sad moments, but before the audience is given much time to watch and listen to this side of him it is all swallowed up in the vengeful proceedings.

The Gameplay consists of environmental puzzles, platforming and combat. Lots of combat. The puzzles, while grand in scale and with stylish (and fascinating) design, are still ultimately fairly simple, when they are not merely slightly more complicated versions of “find the right key-card” that are too often the standard puzzle design. Just exchange skulls for keycards and you have it. That said, they were enjoyable puzzles for their scale and design all the same. The simplicity didn’t take anything away from the game, even though I don’t know that it added much.

Combat is the games real strength, and this comes in the form of numerous combos and intelligent and varied enemies. There is a nice sense of progression in the game as to how you level up compared to your opponents, and though it never becomes less of a challenge, you do feel like you are growing better equipped to deal with that challenge. That being said, there are some combos that are simply more useful than others, and most players will keep coming back to these standbys in just about every situation. The quicktime events can add a sense of cinematic flare to the game, but they can also be incredibly frustrating, and it is nigh impossible to concentrate on hitting the right button at just the right time at the same time as enjoying the cinematic experience, so ultimately I do not think they necessarily add that much to the overall experience.

Platforming is the game’s weakest portion, and thankfully it isn’t used overly much. The cleverest platforming sections come across mostly as a cheaper Prince of Persia, while other sections are beyond frustrating, such as the bladed turning columns in Hades. I can’t count how many times I was knocked down because my character’s hand touched the bottom or back of a blade. The hit detection was wretched in those sections.

There is no multiplayer to keep the player coming back, but this is one of those classic games that will always be replayed just to experience it all over again, and that is high praise for any single-player game.

Closing Comments:

God of War is the definitive game for the Playstation 2. Kratos gave Sony what it always needed: a mascot. A blood-drenched mascot, to be sure, with massive anger-management issues, but all the same, a symbol to carry the idea of quality gaming on Sony’s console. There is depth, scope, and a sense of grandiose mythology in God of War that set it apart from the general action titles of its time, and it still shines as a fantastic action game to this day.

Rating out of 10     Description

9/10 Presentation: Simple but compelling title screen and menus are

nice but the overwhelming quality of the artistic design in

game is what really makes the presentation of the game

shine. Oh, and the cinematics are very well directed too.

8.5/10 Graphics: They weren’t HD, and they don’t live up to today’s

standards, but for its time these graphics were terrific, and

they still look good today, despite next gen standards.

8.8/10 Sound: Powerful, memorable music, with some well-done if one-

note voice work.

9/10 Gameplay: Simple puzzles and serviceable platforming are

sideshows to the excellent combat.

8/10 Lasting Appeal: This is going to be one of those oft-revisited

classics that stay in most people’s permanent collections.

10/10 The Spark: The touches of humanity seen in Kratos serve to lift

the story up, and carry it past being a heartless tale of

revenge. The glimmers of Kratos’ love for his family are

small but significant in connecting the player to the action

on screen. While the epic scope, music, and setting are

excellently done, it is these moments that made the game

truly special for me.

OVERALL: 8.9/10 (Not an Average)