It probably goes without saying that when you’ve got a game and you’re going to fight the Gods, there can only be one word to describe it: epic. God of War is that game, and it is indeed epic. You are Kratos, a servant of the Ares, the God of War. Ares has forsaken you his most glorious warrior and you seek to exact revenge upon him the only way you know how, with violence. Violence the likes of which not even the God’s can fathom. To say that God of War is extremely violent is like saying that fish swim, it’s a given, you’re fighting a God, there’s only one way it can go. However, it’s not the violence (or the nudity for that matter) that makes God of War good, it’s everything else that it does so well. Come, take a mythological adventure, or odyssey if you will, and find out just what makes God of War the video game icon that it will one day soon be hailed as.There aren’t many games that can stand toe to toe with God of War visually. It truly is one of the best looking games on the PlayStation 2 (PS2). Everything is animated so wonderfully, the sheer amount of detail in the backgrounds look as good as the normal graphics in some games. It really is that good. They really must be pushing the hardware to its very limits. Kratos moves with grace and the killing is like a ballet, with blood, lots and lots of blood. The monsters are all taken from Greek mythology and look better than you could imagine. And the cut scenes? Oh, the cut scenes are a sight to behold, lips are perfectly in sync with the audio, and the detail of the characters gets even better with Kratos’ abdominal muscles perfectly defined, as well as the females, um, assets, also fully fleshed out. The cut scenes have a beautiful sense of style. At times they’re fully animated and at other times there is a distinctive almost comic book like appearance in hushed tones with bright red blood spilling out of static bodies. It’s a unique look, but it looks fantastic and very cinematic. Words just don’t do justice to this game; you really have to see it to truly know how gorgeous it is. Games of this generation just won’t look much better than this, and if they do, we all win.
God of War has one of the best scores you’ll ever hear composed specifically for a video game. The music gives your every movement the feeling of importance, and the crescendos at just the right spots give you a warning of impending doom, be it your own or your enemies. This is music that is meant to be turned up. Like that of a good film, you should listen to this at loud volumes. You will enjoy every note, but do yourself the favor of not listening to this on your television speakers. The music is perfect for surround sound and for the one area where you must find the Sirens following their music, surround sound is almost a must; it’s one of the best uses of surround sound ever in a game.
Along with the music, the voice work is also top notch. It is professionally acted out and you will tell from the very opening cinema that you’re in for one heck of a treat. When Zeus speaks, you will pay full attention, his voice echoes and booms, and sounds like you would fully expect a God to sound like. Lastly, the sound effects round out the entire delightful package, metal striking metal, loud crashes, explosions, the roar of the dozens of monsters you face along the way, it’s all done with awesome results, and all with the ears of the gamer kept in mind. You’ll have a hard time finding a game that could whip you into a frenzy with audio alone, but God of War could easily do just that to you.
The more buttons a controller has, the more likely a game is to get complicated by some over-zealous programmers trying to make the ultimate game with the ultimate gameplay. God of War uses every button on the controller and yet, it’s all very intuitive. If you want, you could probably get by on just smashing the same buttons and performing the same combinations over and over again, but that’s not going to reward you. Smart players will figure out different ways to link combinations to one another stringing together more consecutive hits for greater numbers. The more hits you can rack up, the more red orbs you earn. Red orbs are used to power up your various weapons and magic. Powering them up allows you to inflict more damage and learn more devastating combinations, which will in turn allow you to earn more red orbs. It’s all very simple, and yet so clever. It’s a reward based system that gives you more red orbs based on your performance not just your ability to walk around and find the hidden ones, though, those are in there too.
Unlike other games, the various abilities you acquire from the God’s are actually useful, and in many situations the only way to get you out of a jam. Kratos has in his arsenal some of the most wicked moves ever, he can rip heads off, cut an enemy to shreds or turn them to stone and break them to pieces, and all of this is more fluid than most games could ever hope to be. Performing combinations is easy, linking those combinations with others is more difficult, and then there is another way to kill off enemies, the timed button press. The timed button press happens with certain monsters and bosses. During your fighting you will see a button shape at a certain moment, and in that second that you see it, you have to push said button, which will perform a specific action. Sometimes, you have to push the button repeatedly, and other times you will string different button presses together to kill a monster and yet others, you have to move the controller in certain directions. This is the way you take down bosses, you can’t just attack over and over again until they drop, you have to time your attacks just right, and then hit those buttons when you get the chance because one wrong move and you’ve lost your window of opportunity.
Controlling Kratos is easy, all his movements are executed well, and whether you’re running or balancing on a beam or swinging on a rope, it couldn’t be more simple and spot on. What makes God of War good is that there is more to the game than spilling blood, there are puzzles to solve, but they are puzzles that make sense, they’re not a contrived means of extending the amount of playing time. The puzzles are clever and will make you think, but won’t send you running for a strategy guide. The platforming elements to the game really make it play better, there are moments where you need to have perfect jumping skills, but the game is very forgiving and doesn’t force you to backtrack too far should you miss. The list of incredible features that God of War has could go on and on because it really is at the upper echelon of games to be released this year.
God of War is one of those rare games that play so well, that the moment you finish it, you’re going to want to start a new game and start all over again, just so you can go through it again with your newly found knowledge of how to execute all those crazy combinations. There are also plenty of extras to find crammed into this disc, from making of featurettes, to a God mode to deleted levels, there’s just too much not to like. Hopefully, all the extras that God of War has managed to pack in become standard to every game. Gamers dole out a lot of money for these games and should get every pennies worth, whether it’s by including behind the scenes “making of” clips or interviews with the producers or whatever; gamers should be fully treated like they’ve just spent a good amount of money on a solid product.
That awesome soundtrack by the way can be downloaded with a special code that is listed on the back of the instruction manual, via the Sony Connect service. How can you argue with the total package that has been put together here? You can’t because God of War just fires on all cylinders and the bonuses don’t stop even after you think they should have. There’s also a God Mode for those of you who are gluttons for punishment and think that the game isn’t hard enough as it is. Good luck to you. Playing God of War is like eating ice cream on a hot day, you’re going to enjoy it to the very end.
There are some areas where God of War could use some improvements, but that’s probably going to have to wait for the sequel. While the camera is great and pans out far enough to get in on all the action, you have no control over it, so at times it can be hard to tell where you are supposed to go next. Sometimes, you will get thrown in another direction because the camera reverts to a different angle when you’re battling enemies and you accidentally step into a hallway, but it’s not often, so it’s only a minor quibble.
The game does get hard on occasion, you will die guaranteed, but luckily checkpoints are thrown in quite generously, along with save points. That’s good news for average players, but maybe bad news for advanced gamers because at times it can be too easy. If you can’t beat that boss, well, keep continuing until you do, there’s no penalty, and you always start right back where you were, fighting the boss. I suppose that’s why there are more difficult modes; if you think the game is too easy, by all means adjust it so that it provides you a challenge. Again, a minor gripe, but be wary of the challenge if you consider yourself a good gamer.
Lastly, the game is kind of short, but with all the replay value you’ll probably forgive it and just play again from the beginning. God of War is a welcome change to the tired hack and slash games that have been released on the PlayStation 2, so if you’re looking for the next big franchise, look no further than this game, it will not disappoint.
This game is destined for greatness, it was foretold by the stars and by stars, I mean, myself. God of War is more than just a beat’em up; its mind-numbing action with great elements of platforming, and so much more. If this is how games are to be made for the coming generation of consoles, then sign me up right now because God of War is too fun and action-packed to pass up. Get this game now because if you don’t, you too, may be forsaken. God of War is an instant classic. Go. Buy. Now.
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