Searching For Sunshine

Happy Weekend TAY!

Man, what a week. Last Thursday was rough as we had to put down our remaining rat “Zelda” who had the cancer which claims so many rat’s lives. It seems somewhat cruel of nature to give such intelligent, curious, and loving animals only 2-3 years to live while those braindead gerbils get 2-5. It is always tough to lose a pet, she was a sweet girl.

I played very little last week as we are having a bathroom renovated and it is disruptive to the normal flow of our lives. The reno would have been enough of an annoyance on its own, but the snow...the snow came...and kept coming.

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This year, we seem to find ourselves living in an unlucky corridor that saw nothing but snow almost the entirety of last week. The areas just south of us have seen nothing and the north end of my city didn’t receive a fraction of the snow we have here. So, with all the people coming in and out of the house constantly for the renovation, I didn’t want anyone killing themselves on the snow-laden driveway and had to shovel and snowblow multiple times a day. It has been a while since I’ve had to deal with this much snow at once and it is rougher when it is just the beginning of the season. (it isn’t even officially winter yet!)

What little I did play last week was devoted exclusively to God Of War. After what I think are some big mistakes in the pacing of the opening of the game, which makes it duller than it needs to be, I quickly warmed to this fantastic reboot of one of my favourite franchises. God Of War still has many quirks that bug me, but the overall effect is pretty amazing. The map design is fantastic and with all the magic they perform on the landscape (don’t want to spoil here), they’ve nailed the type of exploration that makes good platform games so addictive. It is weird too since there is no active jump button in God of War; you can’t really even call it a platform game. It is part Tomb Raider (reboot) and part Uncharted but still retains much of the DNA from the God Of War series.

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I’m not finding the combat quite as fun as the fighting from the original series, but there were obviously some compromises that needed to be made with the fundamental way the game works and the new perspective. Also, they’ve seriously toned back the gore and violence. I imagine it is to appeal to a broader audience, but I really miss the over-the-top splatterfest of the original series; it now feels a little like Uncharted with a superhero (I could easily see Wonder Woman or Thor in place of Kratos). Not that the new God Of War isn’t violent, it is, it just doesn’t make me squirm like the older games did.

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Overall though, I’m loving the game. The genius level design, the gripping story, and the well designed puzzle-like approach to much of the game shows why Sony is killing it with the exclusive content. It also helps that this is some of the best looking stuff on the PS4.

Still...there are a few quirks that make me wonder how they made it out of committee.

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The boat is boring. It is necessary for the overall design of the game and the story, but it is a snooze. I haven’t had time to think about what I’d do to spruce it up, but a gift from the god “Outboard” wouldn’t have been turned down.

The biggest issues I have with the game are in the way Kratos moves through the world and the prompt system that slows it all down.

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Kratos is a little cumbersome and the overly close camera only seems to accentuate this. With no active jump, Kratos feels similar to Link’s jumping in almost all of the 3D Zelda games, except even Link abandoned this archaic mechanic in favour of a real jump in BotW.

The new God Of War seems like they took a look at how Drake moves around in Uncharted and said: “how can we make it play worse and be more annoying to the player?”

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The climbing in the new God Of War is TERRIBLE. It is similar to Uncharted’s climbing, in that you have a single path to move along and there is little skill involved with the controls (which was bad enough). God Of War makes this even worse by forcing you to move the camera, to locate a prompt, that will allow you to jump across gaps in the walls, often bringing a slow climb to a complete stop. Uncharted is smarter and faster than this and while it was still terrible at climbing, you could at least mash the controller to quickly get Drake through it. The original God Of War series had a more robust climbing system than Uncharted and included combat while clinging to ceilings and walls. This new God Of War feels like a huge step back with many of the control choices.

And despite all that...God Of War is one of those games I can’t put down while playing it and think about getting back to it when I am away from it. It is smart, fun, and gorgeous. I also love that this game isn’t afraid to kick your ass; between it and all the snow shovelling I’ve been doing, my hands are a little wrecked.

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My family is hopefully going to see Ralph Breaks the Internet this weekend, otherwise, I’m sure it will be more The Legend Of Zelda: Breath of The Wild and God of War around here while we mourn our furry friend. I think there might be a pilgrimage to Ikea as well if the weather holds.

So, what are you playing this weekend?