Review by Archmonk Iga

Reviewed: 02/12/07

Action-platforming done right?

"By the gods!" Damn, if I had a dime every time I heard someone say that. Yeah, I'd probably be like 50 cents richer. But if I include the number of times I hear it in God of War, I might be, say, a dollar richer. I'll take it! So anyway, what is all this hullabaloo with God of War, anyway? Is it really as orgasmic as everyone seems to say? Or is it just the overhyped "game of the year" that all the foolish mortals don't want you to buy? Well, I guess I kind of disagree with both of those groups of people. God of War, while an extremely pleasing enhancement in the much lacking action-platform genre, still has some problems that occur here and there.

You are Kratos. He is an angry, disturbed, sick, ruthless, vengeful, violent, and ultimately pissed off man. He has one simple goal: kill Ares, the god of war. Why? Well, you see, it’s complicated. So like, Kratos was in battle, and was about to be defeated, right? And he was all “Oh my God, this totally sucks! And I am TOTALLY missing Laguna Beach!” So then he came up with a plan. He was like “OMG! I have a plan! ARES!! GOD, where is he?! Ares, if you kill all my enemies here, I will be your best and most loyalest friend in the whole wide world!” So then, like, Ares comes, and kills all of Kratos’s enemies, and Kratos is happy!

So from that point, Kratos must be loyal to the god of war, or else he’ll be in deep poop. Ares has him kill a bunch of people, and in the midst of one of his rampages, Kratos realizes he kills his wife and child. This kind of pisses him off. Not to mention how the other gods are annoyed that, like, pretty much all the people they watch over are getting slaughtered by Ares. So Kratos and Athena strike a deal—if Kratos kills Ares (which he wants to do anyway), the gods will for forgive him for all the misdeeds he’s committed. And thus, our adventure begins…

I make it sound simple, but the game decides to make the prologue way more jagged than it needed to be. I would have much rather just found out what happened in the beginning all at once. Instead, the game gives you bits and pieces throughout your adventure, which kind of ruins the pacing of the storytelling. Sure, it works for some stories, but I really think it would’ve been simpler if it was all in order. Still, the prologue, and what happens during the game, is a very interesting tale on an otherwise boring topic (who is really interested in Greek mythology?).
STORY: 7.5/10

Anyone can see that the graphics for GoW are fantastic. Every character model has amazing detail, and it’s cool to see some familiar creatures whose names we studied back in grade school, even though they don’t quite look like what we remember them to. Animations are also impressive, and there are TONS of them. Not just Kratos, even the enemies seem to have just as many.

The environments are equally great. Whether you’re in a menacing desert, a city in shambles, or on a ship during a thunderstorm, every place you go was given the utmost consideration. Honestly, some of the best environments to grace the PS2. Thank you, God of War. Thank you.

The music in GoW is fantastic. Sounding fully orchestral, with a chorus and everything, the score fits every situation perfectly. Although I never really remembered the tunes afterwards, it honestly didn’t disappoint me. It’s like a movie soundtrack—the music may not be remembered, but it can really enhance the experience while it lasts.

The voices are also well done. Kratos sounds like the angry badass that he is, as does Ares. Athena has an excellent voice actress who displays both her femininity and her “you SO don’t want to mess with me” authority at the same time.

Lastly, the sound effects. I often don’t pay too much attention to the effects in games, but GoW really does have quite a bit. Depending on what Kratos hits with his blades, the sound will be different. And uh… there are a lot of other good sound effects, too.
SOUNDS: 9/10

There is so much going on here, yet at the same time it falls just a WEE bit short. Kratos uses “Blades of Chaos,” fiery blades attached to chains, attached to his arms. He swings them, whips them, flings them, launches them, etc. Using the square and triangle buttons, you can create different types of attack combinations, and each different swing will yield different types of attacks. Despite the wide variety of combinations, it would still get old. Luckily, you can build the blades up, giving you newer attacks with them. And wouldn’t you believe it! Some of these new attacks you’ll actually find useful!! I really hope other action games are playing this. Sure, some of the new moves will never be used unless you just want to see what they look like, but there are also many that will make combating much easier for you. That is, if you can get out of the habit of consistently using the original moves you start off with.

Kratos will also be granted magical powers from the gods, initiated by pressing by the L2 button. “Poseidon’s Rage” has Kratos electrocute everyone within a certain range. Why a power given to him by the water god involves electricity is beyond me, but it’s still pretty effing sweet. Next we have Medusa’s head, which Kratos aims at enemies to turn them to stone. He must then proceed to quickly smash the stones to pieces. I really only liked this power when it was fully leveled up, since it covers an entire circular area. “Zeus’s Fury” is a simple projectile to throw at distant enemies, and will see rare use. Then we have “Army of Hades,” which I thought we get too late in the game. It basically summons a bunch of familiars to temporarily attack your enemies. It’s useful, but many won’t see its full awesomeness because they get it pretty late in the game. As a whole, I was only slightly disappointed by the magics in GoW, since I only really used one of them (Poseidon’s Rage).

Kratos will also acquire Artemis’ Blade, which he can use alternately with his Blades of Chaos. It’s basically a huge sword with less range and more strength. Although more limited compared to the Blades of Chaos in regards to versatility, it will be much more useful than them in many instances. Luckily, Artemis’ Blade wasn’t just thrown in there for looks, since it is actually quite a bit of fun to use.

One of the best things about God of War is in the combat. As you have just read, for the most part, fighting is fun as hell. But what makes it stand out so much better than all those other action games? Well, I’d have to go with the minigames and boss fights. Almost every enemy you face has its own special way for you to kill it, instead of only attacking it over and over again. For example, when a gorgon becomes weak, pressing the O button prompts a minigame in which you must move the left analog stick according to the on-screen directions. If you succeed in doing this, then you’ll (this is awesome) RIP HER HEAD OFF. Yes, I’m not lying. See, why would you attack and attack until an enemy falls, when you can rip its head off? Or when you can beat it to death…with its own limb? Or smash its head onto the ground? Or rip its wings off? The list goes on and on. This is one of the most original aspects of GoW, and its one of the reasons people love it so much.

GoW also has the best boss fights I’ve ever seen this side of Voodoo Vince. Similar to the regular enemies, you don’t just beat your enemy to death with the Blades of Chaos, magic, or Artemis’ Blade. For each boss, you must figure out an intricate strategy in order to conquer it. To reach the big hydra, you have to defeat the two small ones. But they keep regaining consciousness, so how can you keep them both down for good? I will not give anything away, and, quite frankly, reading the FAQs will completely ruin the boss fights for you. Half the fun is in figuring out HOW you must kill them, followed by actually putting the plan into motion. If there’s one problem with the boss fights, however, it’s that there are so few of them. I really hope that GoW2 adds more epic battles like the few that we played through in this one.

Along with being an action game, GoW adds some platforming and puzzles into the mix as well. Many of the puzzles are very clever, but there are quite a few problems that should have been addressed. My main problem is that they usually are either too vague or too obvious, and rarely just right. “It looks like there should be a necklace here” is a little too obvious, while constantly getting smashed into the wall underwater gets frustrating because of lack of direction. Another problem I had was with the boxes… Kratos is a huge bodybuilder dude, so why the hell does he struggle so much to push a little wooden box? He moves soooo sloooowly, and it gets very tedious after awhile. How can he swiftly take down beasts that are five times his size, yet when it comes to a box, he looks like he’s in such deep pain? Come on Kratos, I thought you were a man’s man!

The platforming is also pretty fun, but, like the puzzles, could’ve had some improvements. My main gripe was with the constantly-changing camera angle. Too many times have I missed a jump or fallen off a cliff because the camera angle decided to suddenly move. While most of the time the angles were very nice and cinematic, they still managed to screw me over time and time again. But there is definitely some fun in the platforming, too. Besides just being on land, Kratos will swing, balance, hang, and climb. Hanging on a rope or climbing up walls can be especially fun, since Kratos can attack oncoming enemies. I had so much fun grabbing an enemy, repeatedly smashing it against the wall, and then throwing it down into oblivion. While it can get a little overwhelming, and some depth definitely could’ve been added to the rope-hanging segments, it’s still an innovative idea that involves some extra fun.

When I think about GoW, I don’t think about the platforming or puzzle aspects. Sure, those are pretty fun, but the combat is definitely what makes GoW shine so brightly. There are very few problems with it, unlike the several annoyances with the other two, and it provides an excellent amount of challenge and variety.
GAMEPLAY: 8.5/10

There are a lot of complaints that this game is too short, but my first playthrough didn’t seem that short at all. Especially because, by the time you’re done, you’re glad. It’s a fun run, but you’ll be happy it’s over when the credits roll. Nonetheless, the creators put in the further effort that too few other creators do—they put in EXTRAS. Extra levels, extra movies, behind the scenes stuff, art galleries… Not to mention God Mode. This, upon completion, grants you even more extras. There are not a lot of new things to discover within the main game in a replay, but still—this game is damn fun! So why not? I’d say this game is a keeper. You’ll want to put it away for awhile at times, but when you pick it back up you’ll be in flesh-ripping glee.

Besides having one of the most interesting new protagonists on a PS2 game, GoW also has some of the most fun gameplay as well. Although very lackluster at times, it will also have intense beheading, stabbing, and ripping. Pair that up with beautiful visuals and sounds, and you’ve got a game that really is one in a million.
OVERALL: 8/10 (8.4 with decimals)

Thanks for reading =)

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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