Review by arcanehavoc

Reviewed: 08/08/05

A great, but generally overrated, game

God of War (GoW) has most of the elements that make up the ideal adventure / fighting video game. It lacks a few refinements, though, probably because the makers were more concerned with deadlines than final product.

Story: Not worth rating. Anyone who has read Greek mythology realizes that much of this is fantasy; the only nod toward the "true" mythology is the use of the gods' names and some of their weaponry (thunderbolts, dead souls, etc.). This might have been made more interesting if developed, but it's okay as is. The story is weak, but after all it's only meant as a rationale for the main character's actions. The story is well-told via flashbacks and cut-scenes. Narration is excellent. It's fairly simple, though, and the plot moves along an anticipated arc. No surprises.

Graphics: Fantastic! Good colors, fine detail, and fluid fight sequences. There are few games out there for the PS2 that can match GoW's graphics. The cut scenes are superb -- unfortunately, there aren't as many as I would have liked to see. I think this is partially due to the weak storyline. Again, the deadline issue (which is remarked upon in the bonus feature "Making of GoW") had to be a significant factor. STILL -- the fights look awesome and the cut-scenes are the best quality I've ever seen, rivaling Final Fantasy's.

Game Play: Slightly disappointing, but overall, excellent. Attacks are clearly laid out, combinations are possible, and the main weapons (Blades of Chaos) are all you need to carry the day -- provided you upgrade them completely. Magic (weaponless) attacks are possible, which are limited, but extremely helpful at key points in the game. The mini-game finales are extremely satisfying and add a lot to the game, only. . . they get repetitious later and the more difficult ones never allow you to see the stunning climax; you're too busy pulling off the combo to see the results. I got lots of oohs and ahs behind me from the peanut gallery, though. : ) There are also puzzles, which require thought, but are not overwhelming. A good mix of puzzles, but not especially challenging. One would think that in harder modes there would be different, more challenging puzzles . . . I separate puzzles from obstacle courses.... Anyway, the camera was generally right where I wanted it to be. It moved around to doorways and significant items to give hints on where to proceed, and usually wasn't a problem.

Problems: These are my reasons, in order of significance, why I don't want to give GoW a nine or ten.

First, I didn't much like the analog stick. Most fighting games don't use it, and there's a reason. Precise combinations and control is easier and more readily achieved with the directional buttons. Jumping hither and yon with the toggle stick, particularly in the heat of battle, was often a random affair. The marvelous weapon combinations were very forgiving, so that it was possible to beat opponents despite not having precise control re: techniques, but I found this frustrating. Toggle controls during obstacle course hazards was especially aggravating. Point of view had something to do with it also.

Second, I have to talk about the point of view. Yes, the camera was usually where I wanted it to be -- this alone makes the game better than most out there!! However, there were many times when I wanted to get a different point of view and couldn't do it. Sometimes I had to throw away a life and start over at an earlier time simply because I couldn't see well enough, given the angle of view, to make an intelligent decision as to how to proceed. This is annoying and needlessly frustrating.

Third, there weren't that many different types of opponents, and masking this with different colors, or flames, was mildly insulting to my intelligence. There are many more dangerous creatures in mythology -- certainly the game designers could have provided more than just a handful of examples. This affected the battles and made them less exciting about midway through the game. Once you've beaten one Minotaur or Gorgon or Harpy, you've beaten them all. It's just rehashing and rethrashing. It took away from the significance of achieving the higher levels of the game.

Fourth, the weaponry and magic was limited. Yes, the Blades of Chaos were very forgiving and could pull off a dazzling combination with just a little random button pushing, but the only alternative was the Blade of Artemis?? Also, most of the magic was kind of useless. The Gorgon's stony stare and Zeus's thunderbolts don't have to be used at all, except when they're first acquired. In fact, most people don't use them, unless the game forces them to, the whole game through. I know I didn't. This was a bitter lesson the first time through the game. The second time through I concentrated on upgrading just three items, and frankly that's all anyone needs to do to win handily. Why bother offering other superfluous magics/weapons? (All you need to upgrade are Blades of Chaos, Poseidon's Rage, and Souls of Hades, in about that order.)

Fifth, the game was too short, and too linear. Different choices spawning different puzzles, opponents, and endings seemed logical and possible -- why weren't they available? Replayability is limited. I've played it through twice and I'm done with it for a while -- I might even sell it now for something else. There's not much to be gained by playing it again on more difficult levels -- there are no new characters, cut-scenes (plot-based), or puzzles to experience, just more difficult battles. Why bother?

Sixth, parts of the game were a little too sensual. Yeah, I know, blood and guts and a mature rating. Did we really need the topless women and the sex min-game? These things sort of took away from the adventure aspect, and did nothing to add to the story or the fighting action, so why put them in? Since it may safely be presupposed that many minors are going to get ahold of this game (game developers, don't hide behind the Mature rating!!) I don't see the need for either the nudity or the sex. These things weren't integral to the story, nor were they play-oriented, nor helpful. (no new moves, no new weapons, no point to having them in the game) Character development? Nope, I don't think naked breasts developed the main character at all.

Seventh, and last: the game had a lot of glitches during play. This is a common complaint, and I don't know who's to blame for it. Is it a software issue? Or did the company who actually make the discs use faulty materials or processes???? In any case, there were three or four spots in the game when it froze up and wouldn't allow me to proceed. I had to restart the game and begin (again) from my last save point. This is a needless aggravation that steals from the excitement of the game, and replaces the thrill of working through a level with anger and frustration. This is particularly true the first time around, when I wasn't sure if I wasn't proceeding because I had failed to meet a requirement or if the game just wasn't letting me move on.

Overall, a significant game for the PS2 and worth playing by those who meet the MATURE rating requirement. However, I would suggest renting it, not buying it. You can buy it later at a much-reduced price, if you decide you MUST have it. However, you can beat it through two or three times during one rental period, and I suspect that most people will get their fill of the game at that point.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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