All right, I want each and every last damn one of you to take a look at this trailer:
OK, listen, gaming industry. I get it. I get that you wanna put your best face forward for the normals during the most watched sports spectacle in the Western hemisphere, and that you want the kind of attention the Mad World trailer for Gears of War and the initial reverse time trailer for Dead Island garnered. And you know what, 8 years since the first game brought the little twist to the table to begin with, I’m still a huge fan of the ashes of Kratos’ wife and kid being grafted to his skin as punishment. It’s a grand justification for a defining character design trait, and perfectly in line with the kind of spiteful shit the ancient myths would pull to J. Walter Weatherman Greek society.
The games then spend the following four titles reminding us how irredeemable a motherfucker Kratos actually is. The guy murders gods, titans, sycophants, and generally anybody who hoves into his space. THAT’S THE APPEAL. There has never been a series more proud of its purpose as basic violent catharsis as God of War. The guy’s family is dead because he has nothing left to lose, so decides to put Godmurder at the top of his resume. When he’s done with that, and can’t hold down the Olympian day job of war god, Zeus demotes him, and Kratos essentially has himself a two-sequel office rampage, wiping out the entire Greek pantheon in the process ultimately ending in one of the more hollow victories in all gaming, strongly suggesting that because of Kratos, THERE IS NO GOD. There goes your hero. Watch him as he fucking goes.
So, do you maybe think an ad for God of War: Ascension that tries to lay on the pity and empathy thick as molasses, before showing an ever-more-constipated Kratos getting pumped while some young songstress warbles over his soundtrack was probably a misguided choice? Seriously, Kratos would probably break Ellie Goulding in half like a Kit Kat bar if he heard that song while he was trying to get his murder on, and probably have a QTE sexwich with 3 other women just like her 20 minutes later. A series so grounded in bastardry has no basis for this kind of cloying. This just comes off embarassingly bad, and it needs to be highlighted to make a point: Melancholy needs to be earned, not forced. That Dead Island trailer? That would’ve been heartbreakingly appropriate had that been a commercial for The Walking Dead. Instead, it was for a game that turned out to be Far Cry with zombies. This kind of bait-and-switch does nothing for the industry except highlight just how bad the stories being told *can* be. It’d be like a trailer showing meth addicts struggling with their addictions, abandoning their families, and whispering the names of their dead mothers with their dying breaths in the unforgiving rain, and then you find out it’s a trailer for Crank 3. God of War‘s tale is stronger than some, but still ultimately a hardcore vengeance saga. Be proud of it. Be classy about it if you want to. Be menacing, or funny, or creepy, or whatever it is your game ACTUALLY is. But don’t ask for my emotions when your game unrepentantly doesn’t. Because what you’re really asking for is my scorn. I can’t think of another medium that does this to this extent, and it needs to just. Fucking. Stop.
….oh yeah, and God of War: Ascension is out March 12th.