God of War: Betrayal
Now you can tell ladies that you have the God of War in your pocket. Ask them if they want to see it. They love that...
God of War: Betrayal is one of those games that is frustrating to critique as a reviewer. Not because it's awful, but because it's just... middling. It remained compelling enough, right through to the end, that I didn't mind playing through the whole title. Yet at no point during my time with it did I especially feel like I was having fun. Ultimately the gameplay is inoffensive enough, but it doesn't do much (with one big exception I'll get to in a minute) to elevate itself from the rest of the 2D action titles already out there.
The game takes place between the events of God of War and its sequel - Kratos has defeated Ares and become the new God of War, and, naturally, isn't just content to sit around, given his newly-bestowed title. The game allows gamers to play through the events that pissed off the Olympian Gods so much leading into GoW II, including killing the son of Hermes himself in the game's finale.
Despite the switch to 2D, franchise veterans should feel right at home. Kratos' primary tools of destruction remain Athena's Blades, which are basically two gigantic blades tied to the end of lengthy chains. Kratos also has access to Medusa's Head to freeze enemies in place, the Army of Hades to strike enemies from afar, and the two-handed Sword of Artemis to wreak havoc at close range.
Honestly though, the chain swords are all you need. My biggest issue with God of War is that the hordes of enemies seem to exist pretty much solely to act as punching (or slicing, as it were) bags for Kratos. They'll stand around and let the player wallop them with combo after combo, occasionally taking mindless swipes in the player's general direction. Additionally, Kratos' attacks *always* take priority over an enemy's. Including bosses. Meaning if an enemy has his weapon raised, about to strike, as long as your attack lands first, his is cancelled. This basically means that as long as Kratos mashes the attack button without stopping, it's pretty darn hard to get hit.
The combat itself is a little shallow - you basically just mash "attack" over and over and auto-perform combos, but the game compensates in a couple of major ways. The first is with the impressively fluid and varied animation Kratos exhibits. It truly is impressive, and, honestly, makes it possible to forget you're basically mashing just one button. The franchise's trademark uber-violent finishing moves also have been included, to great effect. When an enemy has been weakened, it's possible to initiate an attack that will put them down with a little more flair (say, ripping their head off, or flinging them across the screen). These moves are pulled off via 2-3 random, timed button presses that appear on-screen.
Light puzzle-solving and platform elements have also been included, although the focus of Betrayal is clearly on the combat. The "puzzles" basically consist of dragging a box never more than a couple feet to sit on a switch, or getting it into a position to give Kratos access to a higher ledge. The platforming is a little more robust, with Kratos avoiding all kinds of deathtraps through the proper timing of jumps.
God of War: Betrayal isn't great, but it isn't too bad, either. I have hope that future mobile iterations of the hit franchise will beef up the enemy AI and your options to combat said AI. With these changes in place, Sony would have a hit action platformer on its hands.
What's Hot: The violent, fluid combat.
What's Not: The mindlessness of it all.