Thursday, May 4, 2017

Keep 'em Short and Sweet

I finished God of War 3 awhile back. The game can be best summed up as “God of War 2 in HD”, which is fine with me. To my knowledge, God of War is the only series where you can kill a minotaur by stabbing it in the eye with its own horn, an experience more than worth of the admission.

The only problem with the game is the ending. It’s not that I was expecting Shakespeare, quite the opposite actually. It became clear a few hours in that the developers were writing themselves into a corner that wouldn’t leave them with much to work with once the adventure was over. But this didn’t stop the developers from attempting to shoehorn in some substance and weight during the final moments when (1)it wasn’t really necessary and (2) it didn’t make sense. As a result the ending was overly long and drawn-out.
Read also :  And now for something completely different...
It used to be different. Back in the 8-bit and 16-bit era, endings were mostly afterthoughts. Thrown-together and wholly unsatisfying. Sometimes you got a few lines of text and that’s it. Other times you might see one new sprite or if you were really lucky, some sprite art.

Many complained, but unlike movies and books, you frequently played the ending to video games. After the robot/evil wizard/veggie-hating frog went down, there wasn’t much left to see. Complex interpersonal relationships and political implications were (and are) practically nonexistent.

Game developers recognize this, and just as stories and characters have become more complex, so have the endings. Now the final battle is part of the ending. Now the villain must have dark revelations and surprising plot twists to unfurl before announcing that he’s had “enough talk” and a fight ensues. Then, having discovered the hero is more than a match for him, the villain taunts our determined savior before remarking that he’s grown tired/weary of this petty squabble/quarrel/game (never mind that he’s been aware of the hero’s doings from the beginning when he could’ve squashed him like a bug). Now the fight is REALLY on, as the villain has revealed a spell/attack/mech suit that shows his true strength.

Once it’s all over, the villain gives one final unrepentant/conciliatory speech before breathing his last breath and the hero dusts himself off while consulting/celebrating/reflecting with the sidekick/partner/cheap floosie who was on his side throughout the adventure. Sometimes during the ending there’s an interactive portion that’s supposed to make the player relate to hero’s plight. This is where God of War 3 (remember that?) goes way off track. The player is forced navigate Kratos’ most painful memories in an effort to understand his heart. But it’s a futile exercise. For a “hero”, Kratos is, to put it bluntly, an asshole. He just spent the last ten hours or so beating in the faces and snapping the necks of Olympian gods because he’s still pissed that he accidentally killed his wife and kid while he was in midst of slaughtering thousands of wives and kids. After witnessing (and relishing) the carnage he inflicted, trying to feel an ounce of pity for Kratos is pointless.

Not every game has to become all introspective and deep with its ending. Certainly not one whose appeal revolves around gratuitous violence and nudity. It's better to just get the damn thing over with.

No comments:

Post a Comment