Getting all the new trophies was cool, and it was good motivation to go back and work on my backlog. Since I got a big chunk in most of the games I hadn't already finished, hopefully I will be able to wrap them all up without waiting forever. At the same time, now I have a handful of started and unfinished games that while I was chipping away at, managed to miss out playing a lot of other games in the mean time (Tomb Raider, I'm so sorry ... I'll be back soon).
Playing Ascension today (and a lot last night too), I'm glad I played the games in the order that I did because now I can finish up this game and then go through and finish the games chronologically and try to wrap my head around the storyline all over again. I think it will be a lot of fun to do it that way. However, with how visually stunning this game is, it might be hard to go back and play the much older games. We will see, though. The summer is ideal for game backlog grinding like the one I'm stack I'm building now. Remember how I've said that 2013 might be the biggest and best year for gaming, maybe ever? Well, this summer might be the best summer for gaming in its own right, just because everyone will still be playing all these awesome games instead of the usual summertime drought.
So God of War: Ascension is fantastic. Finally getting the complete history of before Kratos became a God is nice and finally feels like everything is now pretty much clear. The world is once again grand and stylish, and you feel so small and insignificant sometimes. In fact, there have been times where the camera pulls so far away to show off the amazing scenery, that while in the middle of a battle, you can easily lose sight of Kratos, and you are forced to button mash until completion. This isn't necessiarily a horrible thing, it's just a thing, as the basic controls and combat system doesn't demand intense focus at all times, if you know what I mean. Besides, even if you die because you can't see what's going on, at least the view makes it all worth it.
Everything you know and either love or hate about the series stays true in this game as well. Sure, they have added a few new touches here and there, like the ability to pick up random weapons and use them in battle, but nothing groundbreaking. Again, they aren't trying to reinvent the wheel, just rotate the tires a bit. If you are a fan of the series before hand, you will love this game. If you didn't like the previous games, then well, just move along, because there's nothing to see here.
There is a multiplayer mode which I honestly haven't even thought about checking out yet. I'm sure I will eventually, just out of sheer curiosity, but it should be no surprise to anyone that I'm probably not going to dive in head first into it. I'll try to write about it at some point if I feel the need to, just not tonight.
Ascension did something else, however, that sent the internet on fire with debate, and while not exactly timely anymore, I still want to add my two cents to the discussion. And I really don't want to throw anyone under the bus if I can avoid it at all possible, and I'm usually not one to complain about other gaming journalists, who by all accounts, are entitled to their opinions just like everyone else. With that being said, I do need to speak out against the highly-regarded Adam Sessler and his review of this game.
It wasn't his review that I had a problem with, as he pretty much said what I said: If you like God of War, you'll probably like this one. He did, however, hark on the violence in the game, and like I wrote about last night, it's such a pointless topic to keep writing about when talking about God of War. Yes, it's a violent game. Has the violence gotten worse, or is it just a case of the gore being more pronounced and showcased because of the graphical capabilities of the system that the game is running on? I think the latter is true, for sure.
After his mini-violence rant, he switched gears and went into full assault mode on, of all things, the name of a trophy that pops after a certain scene. In the game, a Fury (demon-like creature) takes the form of a female woman, and Kratos is forced to kill her by basically crushing her skull in and then impaling her on a spike. It's not exactly the most gruesome kill of the game by far. But because it was a "woman," Sessler got all up in arms at the name of the trophy, which was "Bros Before Hos." He threw out the misogyny that seems to be a hot button topic in the gaming industry already, and did so quite unfairly in my opinion. After his rant, he seemed to be more sour on the game than before it, and the score didn't seem indicative to what he thought about the game up until that trophy. Whether or nor his disdain for the name of the trophy had anything to do with the review score or now, we will probably never the full truth of it, so that is merely an observation I had as a consumer interested in the game.
And this is where I had the biggest problem of them all. Sure, he was offended by the trophy name, and that's fine. We are all allowed to be offended by whatever offends us without prosecution, last time I checked. And while a game review is purely based on the reviewers independent thoughts and feelings about the game being reviewed, I don't feel like reviews are the proper platform to preach about ethical issues you have, especially if they don't pertain to the game itself in any way. It wasn't the violence he was seriously offended by (though he wasn't thrilled about it), but it was the "Bros Before Hos" trophy name that set him off. The name of a trophy. You know, possibly the farthest thing from being relevant or important in a review OF THE GAME.
If he wanted to post an accompanying video sharing his opinions on it, that's fine. No problems at all with him doing that. But to highjack a review of a game to preach about morale standards from a soapbox is unfair to the game and the audience. There are times and places for everything, and he lacked poor judgement on this one.
Also, I can't even say his interpretation of the problem was even well thought out, but rather an overreaction for the sake of being controversial. He claimed "misogyny" because of the term "hos," which wasn't even spelled correctly for one. Sure, on paper it looks pretty brutal if he were actually doing it to a woman, but instead, it was a demon disguised as a female human, who has been trying to kill him the whole way. Another Fury even attempted to use the power of seduction and naked breasts to lure Kratos in to her deathtrap earlier in the campaign, again, because she was a demon. And that's OK, apparently?
Is the game itself, or even the franchise, misogynistic? Well yes, in a way, because it is trying to stay true to the time period in which the game is set. Women were mistreated, used as sex objects and not looked at as equals in real life during that time in history, so it would be unfair for this franchise to not be true to that aspect. They haven't completely thrown it in the audiences face for the most part, but sure, it's there. But that's not even Sessler's complaint, but rather the name of the trophy. He is basically saying that the developers and creators are as guilty of misogyny as Kratos is, and they should be held accountable for their actions.
That's all fine and dandy, except for one crucial detail. Sony Santa Monica Studios, the creators of this game, are ran by woman all the way to the top of the corporate ladder. A woman was responsible for writing this trophy name, and it all had to go through women to get pushed on to publishing. So is "misogyny" still a word that should be used in this circumstance? I think not.
Was it guilty of maybe being bad taste or juvenile? Sure, you could argue that. But that applies for many games these days. And again, it's the name of the trophy, not the actual act in the game that got the negative attention. In an attempt to nip it in the bud before the PR negativity spun out of control, Santa Monica announced and released a day-one patch for the game that changed the name from "Bros Before Hos" to "Bros Before Foes." They didn't say they were wrong, they just apologized for possibly offending anyone in the community.
Congratulations, Adam Sessler. I hope you bask in your own glory for getting the name of a trophy changed to appease your own personal morals. I just wish you would have addressed it in a different manner, or thought about it first before altering the review of a game to coordinate with your morals.
Unbiased journalism is dead, even in the gaming industry, apparently.