I’ve Never Played God of War

I’ve never played God of War. It’s one of PlayStation’s most iconic brands, featuring one of its most recognisable and potentially interesting protagonists and it has spawned multiple sequels across numerous platforms. It leaves a gaping hole in my gaming history.

I have dabbled with the series at various times. I vaguely remember trying God of War II on the PS2 many years ago. I played bits and pieces of one or both of the PSP games (I can’t recall), Chains of Olympus and Ghost of Sparta, on the PSP but no more than an hour or two. I played the first few levels of God of War III shortly after it came out and quickly lost interest. I bought the first HD collection in the US before it was released in the UK and never took it out of its cellophane before giving it away.

[drop]I’m sure everyone has these holes in their gaming history that leave others aghast at how you could pass up such a classic. Sometimes a game or an entire genre just doesn’t appeal. I have several gaps in my own CV of gaming but perhaps we’ll talk about those later. For now, let’s focus on Kratos’ adventures and why I may be a fool for missing it.

I just don’t connect with games of this type, which is fine – there are plenty of other great experiences for me to enjoy and God of War has enough fans that it won’t miss me.

I didn’t enjoy the Devil May Cry games, Dynasty Warrior games or even more modern touchstones of the hack-and-slash action genre like Dante’s Inferno or Bayonetta. Even though I’d generally be inclined to anything that uses historical periods or ancient mythologies as a basis, I couldn’t get over my general lack of enjoyment for this genre. But that’s not what I want to dwell on, it’s clear that I’m the odd one out here – the God of War games have all been very good.

So I would rather focus on what I might have missed. What does God of War have that nothing else does quite so well? Why has this series cemented itself so firmly in the hearts of PlayStation fans around the world?

One of the most obvious things, and something that I can enjoy without even picking up a DualShock, is the graphical accomplishment of each of the games. God of War was beautiful, God of War II surpassed it and the two PSP instalments were home to some of the most attractive visuals that the handheld console saw. God of War III is a couple of years old now and still wouldn’t look out of place on a list of most graphically impressive games. Partially I think that’s about the lighting, modelling and textures but I also think there’s a sense of scale in each of the God of War games that is unrivalled anywhere else.

The narrative of the series is also something I can enjoy, albeit in a diluted state. In this age of discussion boards and copious internet post mortems (not to mention excellent comedic abridgement), I can enjoy the general twists and turns of the series’ plot without playing the games.

[drop2]So what else is there, aside from the gameplay which I’m purposefully avoiding? What about character attachment? Reading about the developing plot is fine for knowing what happens but I miss out on forming any attachment with the characters that can be built by things like visual cues (settings, facial expressions, etc.) or dialogue delivery.

That’s something that I generally really enjoy about games – the emotional response they can incite. Does God of War do that especially well? Does it have moments of crushing, painful despair and instances of sheer elation?

Is there a thread of humour weaving through the series that any cold plot summaries I could catch up with are missing?

In spite of knowing that I simply don’t enjoy the gameplay mechanics on offer from God of War, I do still feel that I’m missing something. Perhaps it’s only the cultural connection with so many of my fellow videogame enthusiasts that I miss? I don’t have that shared experience, which is so widespread, so my associations and references will forever be slightly out of kilter in this area.

What am I missing?



  1. “Does it have moments of crushing, painful despair and instances of sheer elation?”

    Nope. You just get angry & rip a few limbs off.

    • And have sex to heal your wounds.

  2. I remember the first time I bought fallout 3 & though wtf is this put it back in the pack & refunded it. That was due to the fact I don’t like RPG games, I like my games to have point A to B then credits roll but then years later I rebought fallout 3, took my time with, played it, the more I played the more I got into it.

    God of war is an amazing series, no matter what anyone says that he is too angry etc that’s the whole point what makes it fun, the gameplay never got dull & repetitive (just the challenge of the Gods) the story is narrated well, the beginning of the first GoW is what sold it for me ‘the Gods have failed me’

    Give it a chance I say, it’s better than uncharted & I stand firm by that statement even though they different genre of games it’s the better exclusive

    • As much as I love GOW i’m not so sure about it being the better exclusive, especially when it comes to uncharted.

      Cant wait for GoWA and The last of us.

      • See that’s me though, I’m not big on uncharted it’s number 4 on my list of exclusive, GoW, MGS4, InFamous then uncharted. I love GoW, I like uncharted.

  3. Not played any of them either, although I was pleasantly surprised when I played the GoW3 demo – does that count? Although it was button-bashy for the most part, some of the set-piece, Bosses and level variations were great.

  4. I’ve never played a single GTA.
    Bought the Complete Edition of IV on sale on the PSN store. Let’s see if I get to play it :p

    GOW is, imho, a good series. The story is always nice, but the core of this is ripping enemies apart and try to chain amazing combos while button smashing. The bosses are usually awesome and all, but unless you enjoy some good button smashing agains hords of enemies, the game is not for you.

  5. Also, GOW is pretty much the first game I remember using QTE, so there’s that :)

    • Is that said as a benefit to gaming, or a detriment?

      • As a benefit, as in it introduced something. Nowadays it’s been quite overused, but I still like them here and there :)

      • Fair enough – Some people like them, some people loathe them.

        Fortunately, they do permeate the games i play but not too over-intrusively.

  6. I’ve played GOW 1 &2, and i struggled to get into it which is a bit surprising as i like the hack and slash genre. For some reason, i just didn’t like the angry spartan simulator. Prehaps it’s the gameplay that GOW has or the plot or something as everytime i play it, i usually put it away after 1 hour.

  7. You say you have never played god of war yet go on to contradict yourself saying you have played a hour or two across the series…… Make up your Fecking mind

    • You seem to be missing the general theme of the article – that being to pose the question of what someone who has never experienced God of War might be missing.

      I’m not sure if you’re doing that because you genuinely don’t understand, didn’t actually read it or just want to show off some aggressive ignorance in internet comments like some people seem to enjoy (genuinely, I can’t work out if you just missed the point or you’re trying to be an arse so please excuse the query) but aside from that, you’re also factually incorrect in your assertion.

      “I’ve never played God of War” and “I’ve played bits and pieces of GoW: CoO, GoW: GoS and GoWIII” are not mutually exclusive statements.

      • “I’ve played bits and pieces of GoW: CoO, GoW: GoS and GoWIII” is also a much less snappy title! ;)

      • Its not really about the theme. You have started and titled your blog “I’ve never played God of War” which implies you have never picked a controller up and played it ,You clearly have

        Now if you said “I played it but didn’t complete it” which links with the rest of blog of why you couldn’t get into it that would be a different affair.

      • still factually incorrect, even if you’re choosing to ignore the generalities (which is bonkers too).

      • The title clearly says “I’ve Never Played God of War”, u have gotten that right! but then if u just lower ur head 1 cm it says “The Things I’ve Missed”. So if one uses his/her brain a little u can actually interpret it to something like “I’ve Never Played God of War, to the point were everyone finds it really enjoyable, oh The Things I’ve Missed”.

        and lovely article Peter! =D
        U got me thinking about all the games i have missed that everyone else finds enjoyable! :P

  8. I’d never play GOW until III. I’ve since bought both remakes, mostly because of the reasonable prices and 3D support (on 2 of them).
    For me GOW’s hook is fairly simple gameplay. The puzzles are short, not too complicated and satisfying. The combat is fun, and again simple yet satisfying. I’m really not one for setting a game to hardcore and tearing my hair out nights on end.
    I like a game that you can play with, rather than just play. GOW and UC are two that spring to mind where I can have a bit of fun with it. Chaining attacks and and absolutely destroying the enemy in imaginitve ways is just great fun. Likewise with UC you can play with it and enjoy demolishing the enemy. Most satifying :-)

    Plus both UC & GOW both have that ‘ohh wheres this story going, whats going to happen next.

  9. I’ve never gotten into any GTA’s. I don’t know why. I imagine it to be a ‘go here, do this for this guy’ kind of game, although I’ve been told may times to give it a try. I just don’t want to, and the more I’m told to the more I don’t want to!

    On the other hand I LOVE God of War. I have some great memories playing the first one with some mates and the game has been special to me ever since. So much so that I have played and platinumed every game in the series. So far!

  10. I just love Kratos as a character. People seem to get annoyed by the lack of character development in the series, his one-dimensional nature and general ‘I’m an angry bastard all the time’ persona, but this is what I love about him. Forget nuance and subtlety, intricate plotlines and emotional attachments. Pacman eats, Mario jumps, and Kratos brutally kills stuff.

    As much as I loved Uncharted, for me it never quite resolves the juxtaposition between everyman wise-cracking cool adventurer guy and gameplay that involves murdering endless waves of hired goons and performing superhuman feats of acrobatics. Kratos on the other hand has pure motivations and operates in a mythical game universe where they are easily applied: he’s super pissed off, wants revenge, and nothing will get in his way, even if it means ripping off heads, wings, eyeballs and anything else he lays his hands on.

    Which leads me to the other reason I love the games: gore. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t enjoy torture porn films and I’m not some kind of sadist, but the God of War games are so over the top ludicrous in their animations and deaths, that it just brings a big smile to my face. This is also partly due to what XisTG says above, the games introduced quicktime events, which they are perfectly suited to, as you couldn’t really simulate getting a minotaur in a headlock and ramming a blade in his throat with regular controls. And every boss battle ends with something that you just won’t see in other games (acquiring the head of Helios is simply mind boggling).

    One last point, I absolutely love the fact they got Harry Hamlin to voice Perseus, and Kevin Sorbo to do Hercules. To me it just shows developers that really care about their product.

    Awesome games and I can’t wait for Ascension.

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