The USS Quad Damage

Women are more badass than men

Sometimes you want to write a god of war review and sometimes you want to do something else.

I like the change in strategy a female character confers on the player.

Having only played the third God of War, and the demo at that, I have a fairly coloured opinion on Kratos, and that opinion is “man how can anyone relate to that character?”. The intro sequence has him baring his sharpened teeth — fangs really (although, looking at other pictures, I’ve either mis-remembered these fangs or didn’t see them clearly — he clearly has normal teeth). He is a grotesque ball of muscles, and going through the demo you find that he has no allegiances, and will equally kill the strong and the weak.

As far as I could tell, you (as Kratos) kill one dude who was killing another dude, and then you go and kill the other dude as well. Also, you kill the first dude by ripping their heads off using a quick-time event. It’s a fairly visceral experience. Basically, the first time through I had an eyebrow raised as I wondered exactly what the point was. I mean, to some extent, there was no real skill involved with being Kratos, only the visceral impact of his completionist attitude to murder.

I cannot say that this attitude is his alone. There was a point in Neverwinter Nights where I felt a little too babied by the developers, and I proceeded to kill off everyone I could. I did this by min-maxing my character in such a way that no one could compete with me. In effect, I created a Kratos and proceeded to play the game in an aesthetically similar way to God of War (let this be a lesson to you game designers who friggin' make some NPCs in the game invincible).

With this in mind — a general arrogance and indignation, I went and played the God of War demo again. This time I was all "Why are you fighting me, you fools, don’t you know I’m the motherfucking god of war?". I looked angrily at the innocents who run past me with a "You have got to be fucking kidding me! Why would you waste my time by having me even think about you? I am a killing machine!" Ripping that head off felt more like taking back an appendage that really should have been willingly given to me. So it felt good.

However, this is more releasing frustration and less “gaming”. You see, I normally play as a girl. There are a number of reasons for this, but one of the main ones is that the gaming experience is often changed, sometimes in challenging ways, when you play as a girl.

There’s a women’s T-shirt which has “-1 Str, +1 Cha” written on it. I vaguely recall an older version of Dungeons and Dragons having this rule (or a rule similar to this). In english, it means “as a girl, you're slightly weaker, but slightly more charismatic”. More recent versions of D&D, either for political correctness or game balance have ditched this rule, stating that “men and women are both equally capable”. Now, if you want to be a woman, you choose to be an Elf instead.

Not that the rules matter much — when you make the conscious decision to be a girl, you’re already thinking outside the box, and you want to do things differently to being burly. Case in point, in 3rd edition D&D I created a female barbarian with an average Strength but a very high Dexterity. Due to certain rules around being a barbarian (they can sacrifice a hit chance for damage, which increases the risk-reward dynamic) my character could make far more use of their abilities (because my risk was so low, I could take full advantage of the rewards). Since dexterity (unlike strength) was also a defensive characteristic, I was also very difficult to hit.

In short, it was a strategic decision which was more challenging but, used carefully, ended up making the character far more useful. See, some men choose to play chicks because it’s something nicer to look at, some choose them because they’re egging on a character they really like. I like the change in strategy a female character confers on the player.

A lot of gamers are also not used to the girly kind of game-play. This is a huge advantage in competitive play. Nathan was once talking about how Sakura’s moves, while similar to her male counterparts, was different enough in timing and distance that it will play with your mind. Her uppercut has the benefit of being the strongest single move in the game (IIRC), and her Shoryuken does an enormous number of hits (which is great for block damage). A lot of the techniques you employ as Sakura count as “cheap” (in short, easy and devastating) but that has the added benefit of infuriating your opponent.

Hibiki in “Strong” mode, from The Last Blade, similarly has one of the strongest single overheads in the game, and while being an difficult player to master (it’s extremely punishing if you try something as Hibiki and fail, but devastating if you succeed) she really pays off if you put in the effort. The fear you evoke by simply choosing Hibiki is probably worth it alone. Kasumi from King of Fighters is another interesting character whose moves consist almost entirely of counter-attacks.

In short, if you want the plain old way of playing the game, play as a guy. If you want the interesting, challenging, and basically just more bad-arse way of playing, choose to be a woman.