GOD OF WAR II / Sony / Playstation 2
I gave God of War a pretty high rating even though I didn't personally enjoy it all that much, or feel any desire to finish it. I did that because it was a very impressive visual spectacle for the time that it was released, and I presumed Joe Budweiser just has a much higher tolerance for design jank in return for a flashy spectacle than I do. Don't want to be an elitist cockbag and all that. Plus, there were ample segments where you were just tuning up on mooks, and those were actually pretty fun.
All that faith & credit is gone as of God Of War 2. This game minimizes the fun mook-bashing and boss-fighting (as opposed to boss-QTEing) in favor of all the Other Stuff. You know, all the Shit I Hated about the first game, and even some new Shit that's even more terrible. Long-ass finicky QTE battle sequences? Yep, we're into that right in the first five minutes of the game. Holding R1 forever or mashing Circle to do something that really should be done just by pressing those buttons once, like opening a door or chest? Check. Sudden MASH LIKE CRAZY QTEs all over the place? Oh yeah. Those stupid rope-walking/balance-beam segments? First ten minutes or so. More janky wall and rope climbing? Of course. Platform-puzzling segments that have simple puzzles yet are so obtuse and take place on such chaotic, confusing screens (the camera angle of which you still can't change) they become frustrating anyway, totally ruining the pace? Natch.
The thing that killed me this time is the new "fly on Pegasus" levels, which is like playing a retarted version of Afterburner where you have no range weapon or barrel roll and Griffons constantly poop homing energy missiles at you for no apparent reason.
I guess the story doesn't need to matter in a game like this ... but god damn, it would be more enjoyable if it was actually any good, or the characters even likable in any way. They seem to try to write Kratos as the biggest jagoff ever. As you'll recall from the first game, his whole trip is that he originally was the hitman of the gods or something, but has non-stop nightmares from the brutal things he did and innocents he killed and etc. He was hoping to get a stop put to them by killing Ares in the first game, but had to settle for the consolation prize of becoming the new God of War. He's still all whinypants about having nightmares ... so he decides to raise an army of spartans and go around the world slaughtering even more innocents and taking over cities for no well-explained purpose. He treats Athena like shit, so she strips him down to demigod status to start the game. Then Zeus fucks him over, makes him mortal, and casts him into Hades, so we can endure at least one more entire game of "I BOW TO NO ONE!!!" and "I WILL HAVE MY REVENGE!!!", variations of which constitute about 90% of Kratos' total dialogue.
Anyway, too much nonsense and segments with poor gameplay. The first game had more slack to get away with it because it was pushing current-gen hardware to the brink when it came out; it had more of that "WOW I CANT BELIEVE PS DIPPLE IS DOING THIS" factor that made putting up with iffy segments more palatable. Plus there were less iffy segments. Now with many, many more iffy segments, and actually coming out after the current-gen consoles were already on the market ... graphical spectacle games like this are common now, with the PS2 on the cusp of being two generations ago, and there's any number that are more impressive. GOW 2 just doesn't stand up to the test of time.
* Gameplay Video