mandag den 1. marts 2010

Refusing to be a bastard

In a pivotal scene in Paul Verhoeven's Total Recall, Douglas Quaid (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger) discovers that his personality is actually a memory implant ... and that the "real" Douglas Quaid (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger) wants his body back. The real Quaid, it turns out, is a real bastard - and best friends with Cohaagen, the evil villain. The "fake" Quaid refuses to revert to the real Quaid - he refuses to be the bastard.

God of War 3 will be gracing PS3's all over the world from March 16th. I just (briefly) played the demo last night and the game play seems as fun as ever. And it also seems as tasteless and unpleasant as ever.

I have always had mixed feelings about the God of War-series. On the one hand the game design is nearly flawless - a good mix of really groovy combat and cool puzzles. On the other hand the protagonist, Kratos, is a real bastard. He takes great pleasure tearing his enemies apart limb from limb - and killing innocent people means nothing to him.

When you play a game like God of War, you embody the main character of the game. In the time you play the game, you ARE the main character; and quite frankly, I don't really like being a psychopath.

Like Douglas Quaid (the fake one) I want to rebel against the character, I'm supposed to be - but I don't get the choice. If I want to complete the game, I will have to maim my way through it, like a meth-crazed serial killer.

Don't get me wrong: I don't disapprove of violence in games, not at all. Nico Belli of GTA IV is a violent man. Nathan Drake kills his fair share of people in the Uncharted games (as the villain also points in Uncharted 2 ... who, come to think of it, reminds me a lot of Kratos) - and in Assassin's Creed 2 you're cast as Ezio the Assassin. The difference is that all of these characters have their reasons for killing - in other words ... they aren't, like Kratos, stark raving mad.
I know that it's a matter of taste. Teenage boys all over the world will think that Kratos is really cool and that I'm just an old man - and they might be right. But as a game designer I have to say that I would never ever make a character like Kratos.

God of War 3 will get rave reviews when it comes out. It will sell better than any PS3 game this year. And it will be fun ... but no matter how fun it is, Kratos remains a sick bastard.

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