God of War

Preamble

I was cleaning up the Hard Disk and found this post lying somewhere deep within the bowels of the myriad folders that my organised mind prefers to arrange my work in. If I ever develop an OS, file cross indexing with respect to attributes will receive top priority. GUI and user friendliness can suck it. Anyhoo, a little editing and some pictures later, here we are.

I’m more of a connoisseur of gaming rather than one of those hard core time-flies-by-while-I-game-like-a-mad-person type of gamer. I can sit on a level for hours just thinking what tricks they might have used for that particular type of interaction the user experiences. What can I say? Graphics intrigue me. Not solely because of the amazing amount of concise programming they would have used for optimisation.

Anyway, when I bought the PS3, I got God of War 3 free along with it. Let me tell you something – There are few games which show off the might and power of that gaming console like GoW3. Suffice it to say, even my mom, who has no interest whatsoever in gaming and looks on at blu ray with some mild interest even though each frame is about 10 times as vivid as it’s older counterparts, was thoroughly impressed. Of course, the home theatre system gave life to all the sounds of the game but the animations were really something to look at.

Kratos - Man of men.

God of War 3 is a fantasy third person action adventure game created by Santa Monica studios. I have always appreciated Sony as a company with every bit of awesome foresight in terms of what companies to buy. I mean .. Santa Monica, Naughty Dog etc. .. They’ve got their heads on straight. God of War 3 is the first game in the series to feature on the PS3. To say they have done an awesome job of it would be an understatement. The game is exceptionally good.

GoW 3 follows where it left off in GoW 2. The protagonist is a dude called Kratos. I’ll be frank here – I don’t know *how* they did it but Santa Monica somehow created a character who can make every dude feel like a girl. Kratos oozes testosterone. There is no other way I can put it. One scar across his eye, covered in ash dust, goatee, bald head, body paint , two absolutely wicked looking blades connected to him by a chain, inhuman strength owing to demi god descent, voice like a truck going over very coarse gravel. He can make any other character feel like a pussy.

Suffice it to say that if an evil genius scientist took genes from Chuck Norris, Mr T, Bruce Lee, Superman, Batman, Magneto, Charles Xavier, Goku, Cell, Silver Surfer and Galactus and whoever else you can think of and spliced them together to create the perfect being, Kratos would take all of 10 minutes to bury that guy so deep in the ground, he’d think twice about coming out and fighting again.

The story is quite complicated – Kratos is this dude who is a former Spartan warrior and has those blood tattoos exactly like his brother. He sacrifices his family and kills Ares to become the God of War and help the Spartans win. The other Gods in Olympus hate his guts and plot his downfall. Zeus takes all his power through his sword and leaves him defenceless. Finally, Kratos realises that Zeus is his father and believe me when I say this, the guys who created the character knew the meaning of “His rage was great to behold!”. Vowing vengeance against Zeus and the rest of Olympus, Kratos stands on the brink of destroying the entire planet as he kills one god after another thanks to his own inhuman demi-god strength. That is how GoW 3 starts. I don’t know what it is about that starting scene but it gives me quite an adrenaline rush.

The God of War series is actually quite famous for its gory scenes. Blood spatters and limbs are torn like nobody’s business. My mom gave up long ago on such advice as is given by the ESRB dudes to anyone who’d listen. She’s seen me play through Mortal Kombat 4, Half Life and so much else. This game, although similar (there is only so much blood you can spill … unless you are Quentin Tarantino), has some .. er, unsavoury elements. I’ll not go very deep into that but let’s just say that Aphrodite tries seducing Kratos in the middle of the game and she is dressed .. well, a little sparsely (nod to the dudes doing sparse signal processing) if I might say so. I will now list all the boss fights. You can find all this info on Wikipedia, obviously, but take it from me, the videos are worth it.

Kratos starts at the base of mount Olympus where Zeus sends all of his minion gods to defeat him. The starting scene in GoW 3 is an absolute treat. As Kratos, you are on the back of Gaia, a titan. Gaia herself is climbing on mount Olympus and you are literally hitching a ride. The whole scene is an animation and not a cut scene. The first god to fall is Poseidon. Although the kill is quite gory, this is just the start.

 

The context buttons (all those buttons popping up) make sure your kill looks awesome although limiting the choice. He then proceeds to kill Hades, the god of the underworld.

 

This is followed by Helios. Now, *this* is a murderous kill. Just watch it. Gore max btw 😀

 

Those monsters you saw are pretty common in the game so don’t be alarmed. Also, he uses that head as a lantern for the rest of the game. In my eyes, that defines awesome 😀

The videos get boring so I’ll just list the next few boss battles – Hermes, Hercules, Hera and finally, after much ado, Zeus. The gore in the game is absolutely soul satisfying (assuming you have a soul, of course). In the end, Kratos has killed all the gods and released the power of hope, which he had unwittingly taken from the Pandora’s Box, by driving Zeus’ sword through himself.

You can see a trail of blood showing that Kratos is alive but wounded. This is confirmed since there are rumours that the next instalment is coming out. Santa Monica outdoes itself every time. I wonder how they’ll outdo this masterpiece. I can’t frickin wait though m/

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

So, I finally convinced myself that FPS games aren’t all that bad after watching the whole frickin hostel going at it in multiplayer on Call of Duty 6.

To be honest, I’ve never been good with games that require the mouse. On a joystick, after a point of playing, it becomes flesh memory to press the right buttons. My mind says things like “kill that guy” and my hand will press the appropriate buttons. On a mouse, it’s a right pain trying desperately to keep the sensitivity at just the right level, A bigger pain is finding the right surface (book, piece of wooden plank, mouse pad, whatever) to keep the mouse on so that it doesn’t act weirdly.

But I can manage playing with a mouse specifically because using a mouse is something we all do day in and day out through our lives (right?). So, there I was, one hostel hunt for games later, sitting in my room with COD 4, 5, 6 and 7 all loaded and ready to install. I thought I’d start with 4 cos it was the game that started the epic-ness in the whole series.

I started the game in Veteran mode which the game very clearly told me I “will not survive”. How true it was. But first the game:

The game is addictive … And I mean addictive as bloody hell. In veteran mode, after Act 1, every checkpoint took me a minimum of 5 tries to cross. Around the end of Act 2, I was stuck in a VERY tight spot. As in, my tries had exceeded 20 or so and I still was nowhere close to having a clue as to how to cross that stage. So I thought I’d see how the people with COD clans fare in that level and gave it to a pro. He tried the first 2 times and couldn’t get through after which he pressed “Restart Level”. It reset the game back by some 18 checkpoints 😐 and frustrated me as hell when I tried to cross the first 4 of those.

So I took the cowardly path out and restarted the game in “Recruit” mode (read: supremely easy). Then, I got bored running through the same levels (albeit as considerably faster pace) and resorted to cheats *hangs head in shame*

I finished the game today evening. I can honestly tell you I LOVED the game.

I’m not a big fan of FPS .. I mean beyond CS, this is the first game that has captured my attention (No, I’ve never played Half Life 2). But I will tell you this – the game is bloody BRILLIANT. I hated Crysis 1 because there was too much story. I have a love/hate relationship with games like CS and Rainbow 6 because they have too less (Rainbow 6 is actually a Tom Clancy game but I still found it lacking back when it released). COD 4 gave me a perfect blend. The story was simple but provided solid gameplay hours (multiplied many folds considering I was playing in Veteran).

Halfway through the game, you keep switching between playing as Sargent Paul Jackson of the US Marine Corps and ‘Soap’ Mactavish of SAS \m/ . Then you switch to Captain Price of the SAS for a brief period of time. The story follows the accession to power of Khaled Al-Asad who kills some random president and takes power and then detonates a nuke (sadly killing Paul Jackson). The rest of the team trace him, his partners and Imran Zakhaev and kill/execute all of them.

What truly blew me away was this one particular mission when you don the role of Captain Price and move through tall grass in camouflage suits. It was TERRIFIC to say the least. I could not, at times, figure out where the other guy was before I spotted something that looked like a slightly taller strand of grass holding a camouflaged sniper rifle.

Consensus: MUST-PLAY. Epic Game. So awesome I read up on the history of CoD games here

PS: Started playing CoD 5 now – seems kinda drab after CoD4 but you’ll never know until you finish it 😉

The Life of Pi

And then he took the seventh day to rest. We call it a Sunday. My exams are about 2 days away. I can’t read a word of the book I’m trying to study. So I resorted to writing the much procrastinated review of one of the best books I’ve read and probably the only book I believe was worth the Man Booker it got.

As is usual with me, I will digress to the level of making you check the title of the post again. But yet, I will come through. So, we went to Odyssey at EA Mall one fine day and I go directly into the books section. Since I usually have an unlimited budget on what books I buy (Yeah 😀 .. My parents are THAT awesome), I tend to browse and buy a lot. I see this book. Although it was in the fiction section and I had heard of the fact that it was a great book from people who never were into math in the first place, it did not strike me that the book was not about the number pi. Ajay clarified that the book was complete fiction, had nothing to do with math and was one of the best books that he ever came across. Now I trust few people on the subject of reading. Ajay is definitely one of them.

So I bought the book with a debit card (Again, what can I say, I am COOL! :D) and went off home to read it.

The Life of Pi is hard to describe in one sentence. It is like nothing I’ve ever read before. That is saying something considering I read a lot. I am not being patronising, believe me. Some books leave a very deep imprint on your memory cells. This is definitely one of them. I categorise it in the same league as LotR, Shantaram and all the other classics which are worth their words.

The book is about a character named Piscine Molitor Patel – the great mix of names has a long story behind it – and this is a story of how his life completely changes from peaceful harmony to absolute chaos and a struggle for survival. Sounds like the government of 10 countries are chasing him around the globe, doesn’t it? There, you would be wrong. The story is about how he gets caught in a lifeboat after losing his family in a drowning ship and has a hyena, an orangutan, a zebra and a Royal Bengal Tiger for company. Getting interesting, isn’t it? Like the back of the book says – The scene is set for a great adventure 🙂

Rather than delve into the plot and make spoilers, I thought I’d just skim through my own thoughts on the book. I find most authors have a knack of being VERY exhaustive on the descriptions. Of particular notice among the contemporaries would be Dan Brown. Yann Martel has the same problem. If you read a lot, you will eventually start ignoring most of the facts or come back to the descriptions if some line in the book doesn’t match the imagined character in your head.

The author seems to have done his homework on both India (where the protagonist is from) and survival at sea. Although some of the descriptions may be too grotesque to the liking of others, I am quite acclimatised to it (I suggest watching dexter :P). It can get quite boring in the middle for people who get easily distracted though – one reason why I couldn’t finish the book within a day and a half as I usually do at my speed.

Yann Martel’s writing is kind of unique in a way (as is everyone else’s). He seems to go more into the language of the layman – which is pretty appropriate considering the style of narration – rather than the high end English that Amitav Ghosh resorts to. It is sheer hypocrisy to say I prefer that but I really do.

Final Consensus – The book is most definitely worth the read. If you feel bored after some time, keep the book down, go for a walk, whistle random tunes, log on to facebook, drink some coffee, have a KitKat and then come back to the book. I guarantee you that when you finish reading, you will feel the exact same way as I do.

Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood

I’ve been a great fan of Ubisoft’s astounding platformer since the first iteration came out sometime 2 years ago.

Assassin’s Creed is a beautiful game. In both design and story, I can see no parallel. In gameplay, it is somewhat similar to Prince of Persia for all the jumping around even though this is a free roam.

I found Assassin’s Creed 1 stupendous. The major reason for Assassin’s Creed 1 was that the story was different. So different that it stunned me into bowing to its awesomeness. I realised that the convenience of having another device within the game – *spoiler* – the Animus, gave any faults that the game had to lend blame to the Animus rather than Ubisoft (or at least, that I guess would be their argument). Gameplay I found quite awesome what with climbing places and all but there was quite some similarity with Prince of Persia. Graphics were simply stunning. The different aspects of the game like Leap of Faith, counter attacks and all that were equally good. The ending was superb.

I found Assassin’s Creed 2 absolutely phenomenal. Story was, yet again, top class. It equalled if not exceeded expectations that AC1 set. I personally found it better than AC1. Gameplay largely remained the same although since the protagonist changed, the environment was recreated to pure pitch perfect awesomeness. The difference now was that you had levels in the game in terms of developing your hometown. Graphics actually exceeded AC1 even though it was the same engine far as I could tell. The new weapons in the game were well crafted and the introduction of Leonardo da Vinci as the eternal genius maverick was a clever move. The ending was just … stunning. There is no other word for it. It was just too good to be true.

I found Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood mildly boring. Yes, I’m not kidding you. The major problem was that Ubisoft clearly did not intend this to be Assassin’s Creed 3. They intended it to be Assassin’s Creed 2.5 or something.

The story still revolves around the spoilt noble’s son – turned awesomesauce killer assassin – Ezio Auditore. Although the game shifts focus entirely to Rome (which is HUGE in the game), it has basically very few differences. The story progresses a lot (in the real world and in the Animus) and the ending was very very very good. But it left a lot of unanswered questions (definitely intentional). The last 2 dialogues after the credits start are so enigmatic that some really awesome theories have cropped up.

The story mode ends with the usual amount of gameplay.. I guess a solid 5 or 6 hours would do it. Then come the side missions. There is no other word except “hell frickin lot”to describe it. It starts from Romulus Lairs, goes through Assassination Missions and contracts, encompasses thief and courtesan assignments, and finds a real niche in Leonardo Machines. I will explain none of that since the ingenuity of Ubisoft would be lost. They are numerous as HELL. Too many to count and too many to finish. So much so that hitting 70% of “synch” is turning out to be really tough (though I suspect not getting 100% synch in the smaller missions makes a difference).

No new weapons from what I could see though a ton of new tricks like horse to horse assassination, kill streak accumulation etc are superb. The best part of the game (gamers will LOVE this) is that the guards no longer attack you one at a time and they are no longer easily disposable. They can get REALLY tough and *spoiler* calling in assassin recruits sometimes becomes a necessity rather than an afterthought *spoiler end* . There are things like the guards grabbing you while the other guard hits you and all that. So yeah, you will definitely enjoy the level of fighting in this game. Obviously, you will get used to this one as well and it’ll look a lot easier later but that point is moot.

Leonardo da Vinci makes his appearance again as do many of the characters from AC2 including Rodrigo Borgia (who I found out was actually a Pope in öur”universe .. s#!t Ubisoft, what the hell were you thinking?), Ezio’s mother and sister, La Volpe and the dude who attacks France and calls his sword Bianca (I forgot his name).

There is also the “Virtual Training”mode in the Animus where you can go and earn medals for doing what you do best in video games – KILL. You also get medals for running around and all that but hell, who cares 😀

Consensus: If you worship the series (high-five btw) or simply liked the last 2 games, this is a must-buy. If you’re new to the series, please check out the first 2 games for 2 reasons: 1) They are a much better representation of the series’ awesomeness; 2) You will not understand the story of this game as it starts very abruptly from where it last left off.

PS: First post from new laptop 😀

Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood

I’ve been a great fan of Ubisoft’s astounding platformer since the first iteration came out sometime 2 years ago.

Assassin’s Creed is a beautiful game. In both design and story, I can see no parallel. In gameplay, it is somewhat similar to Prince of Persia for all the jumping around even though this is a free roam.

I found Assassin’s Creed 1 stupendous. The major reason for Assassin’s Creed 1 was that the story was different. So different that it stunned me into bowing to its awesomeness. I realised that the convenience of having another device within the game – *spoiler* – the Animus, gave any faults that the game had to lend blame to the Animus rather than Ubisoft (or at least, that I guess would be their argument). Gameplay I found quite awesome what with climbing places and all but there was quite some similarity with Prince of Persia. Graphics were simply stunning. The different aspects of the game like Leap of Faith, counter attacks and all that were equally good. The ending was superb.

I found Assassin’s Creed 2 absolutely phenomenal. Story was, yet again, top class. It equalled if not exceeded expectations that AC1 set. I personally found it better than AC1. Gameplay largely remained the same although since the protagonist changed, the environment was recreated to pure pitch perfect awesomeness. The difference now was that you had levels in the game in terms of developing your hometown. Graphics actually exceeded AC1 even though it was the same engine far as I could tell. The new weapons in the game were well crafted and the introduction of Leonardo da Vinci as the eternal genius maverick was a clever move. The ending was just … stunning. There is no other word for it. It was just too good to be true.

I found Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood mildly boring. Yes, I’m not kidding you. The major problem was that Ubisoft clearly did not intend this to be Assassin’s Creed 3. They intended it to be Assassin’s Creed 2.5 or something.

The story still revolves around the spoilt noble’s son – turned awesomesauce killer assassin – Ezio Auditore. Although the game shifts focus entirely to Rome (which is HUGE in the game), it has basically very few differences. The story progresses a lot (in the real world and in the Animus) and the ending was very very very good. But it left a lot of unanswered questions (definitely intentional). The last 2 dialogues after the credits start are so enigmatic that some really awesome theories have cropped up.

The story mode ends with the usual amount of gameplay.. I guess a solid 5 or 6 hours would do it. Then come the side missions. There is no other word except “hell frickin lot”to describe it. It starts from Romulus Lairs, goes through Assassination Missions and contracts, encompasses thief and courtesan assignments, and finds a real niche in Leonardo Machines. I will explain none of that since the ingenuity of Ubisoft would be lost. They are numerous as HELL. Too many to count and too many to finish. So much so that hitting 70% of “synch” is turning out to be really tough (though I suspect not getting 100% synch in the smaller missions makes a difference).

No new weapons from what I could see though a ton of new tricks like horse to horse assassination, kill streak accumulation etc are superb. The best part of the game (gamers will LOVE this) is that the guards no longer attack you one at a time and they are no longer easily disposable. They can get REALLY tough and *spoiler* calling in assassin recruits sometimes becomes a necessity rather than an afterthought *spoiler end* . There are things like the guards grabbing you while the other guard hits you and all that. So yeah, you will definitely enjoy the level of fighting in this game. Obviously, you will get used to this one as well and it’ll look a lot easier later but that point is moot.

Leonardo da Vinci makes his appearance again as do many of the characters from AC2 including Rodrigo Borgia (who I found out was actually a Pope in öur”universe .. s#!t Ubisoft, what the hell were you thinking?), Ezio’s mother and sister, La Volpe and the dude who attacks France and calls his sword Bianca (I forgot his name).

There is also the “Virtual Training”mode in the Animus where you can go and earn medals for doing what you do best in video games – KILL. You also get medals for running around and all that but hell, who cares 😀

Consensus: If you worship the series (high-five btw) or simply liked the last 2 games, this is a must-buy. If you’re new to the series, please check out the first 2 games for 2 reasons: 1) They are a much better representation of the series’ awesomeness; 2) You will not understand the story of this game as it starts very abruptly from where it last left off.

PS: First post from new laptop 😀