Sundays are (sometimes) for relishing the very un-Sunday-ish feeling of having a whole extra day off work ahead of you, and regretting not ordering God of War early enough for it to arrive in time.
Jennifer Allen’s article on Eurogamer about establishing rules for a gaming friendship is great, and I’d love to know how many people relate to it. Me and my childhood gaming friend never set up any rules, though maybe if we had he wouldn’t have grabbed the keyboard away from me in the middle of a velociraptor fight in Jurrassic Park: Danger Zone when I refused to stop spamming the tail-whip button.
Having tracked down a copy of Bubble Bobble for the Playstation 1, we realised that one of us was a little too keen to swipe up all the fruit at the end of the level. It didn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things but it also really, really mattered. There were principles at stake here. So, we set a ground rule. Mentally, we drew a line down the middle of the screen and each player had to keep to their side when it came to picking up fruit and diamonds. Anything that was located directly in the middle was free for the taking. Invariably, I’d grab it in time. That was a rule that extended to Bubble Bobble sessions with my mum, because I’d get too competitive there too and you really don’t want to fall out with your mum over a game.
Also on Eurogamer, Wesley Yin-Poole retold the story of Vault 11 from Fallout: New Vegas. I want to talk about it but also don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll settle for just saying it’s the best story to come out of any Fallout game. Wesley has a neat interview with the designer at the end, too.
Vault 11 is unusual in that when you first arrive its main door, the one with the number 11 on it, the one would normally hiss and creak before pulling back and rolling sideways, is open. Most of the vaults you encounter throughout the Fallout games are locked shut, which makes sense. The vaults were designed to keep nuclear fallout out and happy dwellers in. Why is Vault 11’s door open now?
I haven’t played the game nor read many reviews, but it seems Rose’s criticism of homogeneous God of War reviews on Video Game Choo Choo has a point. The only parts I’ve seen of the old God of War games have been the horrifically sexist moments that Rose highlights, and I agree reviews should bring up those past mistakes and ask whether God of War has truly done enough to distance itself from them…
Once a consensus is born from a collection of many like-minded opinions, it’s hard for any sort of counter argument to claw its way back up to relevance, especially when the subject matter is something like that of GoW. GoW has trumpeted its masculinity throughout the past decade and a half, whether it was the misogyny and hyperviolence of the original trilogy, or the new “Dads will hurt you and they have their own deep reasons for doing so” brand of masculinity that has started to seep into the plots of many games recently. When the series gets continuous rave reviews upon every release, the entire industry continues to perpetuate this ideology, that this is the correct way to think, knowingly or not.
…though I do think it’s a shame that Rose doesn’t mention the reviews that do engage with those issues. I read July Muncy’s review for Wired straight after reading Rose’s piece, though mine still isn’t an informed perspective. The new God of War might have addressed the past failings of the series, it might not have tried properly, or it might have tried and failed. Rose’s argument that the game straight up endorses toxic masculinity does sounds uncharitable, though.
God of War, then, is an endlessly dissonant and self-contradictory game, cut across the same fault lines as its protagonist. It abhors Kratos’ quiet cruelties and the distance he places between himself and his son, but, damn, it thinks he’s cool. It wants violence to be serious, and weighty, while placing endless nameless monsters in the player’s path. It wants you, in a sense, to be both father and son, viewing Kratos as a terrible man who’s only good at one thing and also as Atreus sees him, as a potential hero waiting to unfold before you.
On Waypoint, Patrick Klepek’s piece about reserving the right to change his mind sounds like it’s about God of War, but really it’s about the nature of reviews and why it should be acceptable for critics to adopt views that contradict their original thoughts. I know it’s a bit navel-gazey of me to use so much Paper space on ‘how reviews work’, but Patrick’s thoughts are just as interesting to me as a review reader as they are to me as a review writer. I 100% agree with him, though don’t blame me if that’s not the case a few years down the line.
Every time, someone says something that makes me go think, puts into words a feeling I couldn’t articulate, or argues in a way that forces a re-examination of conclusions. The opinions of others help me better form my own. It’s a process built on my reaction, and the result is a delightful mixture. What’s important is the fluidity, keeping one’s mind open to the possibility of not only challenging a personal reaction, but willing to admit you could be wrong.
Screw it, last God of War thing, promise – Waypoint also did a spoilerful podcast which will totally absolutely definitively tell you whether it’s a goodun or a badun.
ContraPoints made an excellent vid that deconstructs Jordan Peterson’s seductive baloney, as I think she’d appreciate me calling it.
You should treat yourself to some Hot Salad.
This ad is going to stay with me for a long time.
…as will this thread, about a man who wound up alone in a room with his boss and the President of Ireland while on ketamine.
Music this week is Space Girl by The Imagined Village.