Cancelled Combos and What Not…

I spent a good amount of time in my teenage years playing God of War. The extremely liberating fights not only fed my unhealthy thirst for on-screen blood, but also probably woke the game designer in me. I played it for so many hours that I started seeing the beauty of the combat system, and then I played a lot more hours and I saw a few flaws in them, and then I played even more and came to the conclusion that it was still bloody good despite the flaws (I wasn’t really sure if those flaws were actually on purpose). Here are some of my observations and thoughts on this much debated topic.

Combat Phases
  • The combat system in God of War is primarily melee – melee. A crux of the engagement of the combat system lies in the player determining windows when he can attack, when he should block and when he should roll away to dodge attacks.
  • Given this system animation takes on a role beyond simple visual aesthetics. The animation in the interval between attack initiate and attack hit, serves as feedback for the player to determine and time his course of action.
  • Attack redirection is also a mechanic that is heavily animation dependent. Attack redirection occurs when Kratos blocks an attack during a specific window of time to return the attack.
  • In addition, certain attacks and moves render Kratos and enemies vulnerable or stunned for brief periods. These are also primarily indicated through animations.
  • The game also uses invincibility frames where Kratos becomes invulnerable after receiving damage for a brief period. These are also primarily indicated through animations.
COMBAT STYLE
  • In general, God of War is a responsive combat system. Yet, Kratos is certainly not a nimble character. His attacks tend to feel heavy.
  • This coexistence of heaviness and responsiveness is made possible through short attack sequences. Unlike a game like Arkham Asylum , Kratos rarely strings together rapid attacks. Each individual combo is usually no more than 3 attacks.
  • Furthermore, the attack sequences tend to be fairly diversified. Therefore, the element of engagement lies not in stringing combos but instead feeling a sense of autonomy as the player executes diverse moves.
  • Overall it seems like the combat style is meant to cater to a mid core audience, who aren’t necessarily playing for a deep combat experience.
Attack cancellation
  • Another key feature in combat is the ability to cancel an attack mid combo.
  • The feature creates a much stronger sense of timing as it allows players to simultaneously watch for incoming enemy attacks while in mid attack.
  • However, there is an interesting system of triangular, high risk – high reward that emerges from the cancellation feature.
  • Certain combos are simply not cancellable while most others remove the ability to cancel just before the last powerful strike in the combo sequence.

    (L1 + Square) is not cancellable

    (Square, Square, Triangle) is cancellable only before the final triangle.
  • This system puts the player in a mindset where he is surveying the battle scene to see whether it is safe to execute non cancellable combos

The upcoming God of War has Kratos using an axe and a shield, which basically means Sony Santa Monica is throwing whatever they had before outside the window and building something entirely new. I cant wait, and I can tell you that if they’ve put in half the thought they did for the previous versions, this is going to be a great experience.

 

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