Give it a Rest
God of War I and II were brilliant games and two of my favourites on the PlayStation 2. Like most PS gamers, I was disappointed that it took three years for the series to debut on the PS3. It was a puzzling delay, as at the time the PS3 was in desperate need of the excitement and mass appeal that this exclusive franchise would bring, as it found itself lagging far behind the competition.
When God of War III finally arrived in March 2010, I was a little underwhelmed. It was certainly a very entertaining game and brought the trilogy to a satisfying end, but it did feel a little too familiar. It attempted almost nothing that its predecessors hadn't already nailed in the previous generation, merely applying a new lick of paint. Viewed alone, GoW 3 is very repetitious, and when held alongside the first two entries it feels rather stale. I was still able to enjoy it, as there was a lot to like, but as I said at the time (see my God of War III Review) I felt that I would lose interest entirely if future instalments continued to stick so rigidly to the existing formula.
Last weekend brought new rumours that God of War IV is indeed in development, and according to a presumptuous listing by an online retailer, is due late next year. Job listings from months past for Sony's Santa Monica Studio suggest a further outing for our angry Spartan, but I'm not sure that I will be on board this time around. Who knows, maybe the series will get an influx of new ideas that will keep it fresh, but after five games - the console trilogy and two outings on the PSP - it does strike me as a series adverse to change and, at this moment in time, I have very little interest in a continuation of what has come before. Having played five entries in the space of four years - I first discovered the series in 2007 - as well as a plethora of subsequent games that borrowed heavily of its blueprint, I am pretty burnt out on Krato's brand of wan, super violence.
God of War is not the only series that has begun to out stay its welcome in the toomanywires household. As much as I love Assassin's Creed, I'm a little hesitant about purchasing this week's Revelations. I'm sure it will be an excellent game, but I'm wondering if the historical stabbery will start to wear thin with this, its third successive annual entry. As much as I have enjoyed Ezio's tale, three separate games feels like overkill for his particular story. To give credit where it’s due, I was a little wary of Brotherhood but, once I got stuck in, the familiarity didn't stand in the way of what became one of my favourites of 2010.
I'd like to see the story move away from Ezio, as it is set to do in AC4, and take a year off so that we may once again fully appreciate how good the AC games are once they return. In a game as substantial as Assassin's Creed, reliance on the same formula with a few tweaks here and there can be more problematic than in a more concentrated experience, such as our yearly dose of Call of Duty/Modern Warfare. In their single player output, Infinity Ward and Treyarch have done very little to innovate since Modern Warfare debuted in 2007, but the campaigns are so compact and explosive that they don't tend to outstay their welcome. The intensity is maintained over a 5 hour sprint and it’s all over before you start to dwell on recycled set pieces. Twenty hours spent traversing rooftops and air-holing Templars is a different matter, as the longer you spend playing the more you begin to recall similar sights and deeds. It is a credit to Ubisoft that AC games are still so much fun, even where they are rife with deja-vu.
As strange as it may sound coming from an unabashed Uncharted fan, I feel Naughty Dog's world-beater would benefit from taking a break from home consoles until the next generation, where new hardware will allow it to further push the boundaries of cinematic, gaming experiences. Running on current tech, I fear subsequent entries would only be treading water, at least as far as the already polished single player goes. Furthermore, I'd love to see Naughty Dog put all their resources into creating a new IP and excel outside of their comfort zone - something I'm sure they'd be able to do.
Are there any series that you are tired of or feel would benefit from an extended break?