God of War

God of War is not only one of the best titles you will find for the Playstation 2, but it is one of the best action games ever . . . It’s one of those very rare games that you may find yourself popping in now and then five or ten years down the road just for the thrill of unleashing a little Spartan mayhem.

You may be asking yourself at this moment, do we really need yet another God of War review? That’s a valid question. This game arrived in 2005 with numerous reviews exclaiming what an outstanding game it is. As gamers got their hands on it, they realized that it wasn’t all hype and that Sony had produced an outstanding game that provided a rich experience with its visuals, sound, control, story, and cinematics. If you own a PS2, it’s quite likely you’ve played this game before. It’s quite possible it has become a beloved entry in your PS2 collection. So, why am I reviewing this game now, years after its release when the game has already been covered so extensively?

Two reasons—1) I played it for the first time this weekend (yes, I’m very behind the times) and 2) I want to share my experience, as it differs a little from what you may have read before.

Let’s start with what you already know—God of War is a good game. Actually, it’s a pretty fantastic game. In fact, it passed my lip test for video games. When I am really into a game and caught up in the action, I have a habit of sucking the inside of my bottom lip between my teeth. It’s something I do without thinking, and I don’t realize I’ve done it until after I’m done playing and I notice that my bottom lip is sore. After spending a day playing through this game, my bottom lip was aching quite a bit and even sported a few teeth marks from when the action got intense.

You’ve heard what is great about this game if you’ve read other reviews, but I’ll recap here. First off, you wield twin blades with ferocity and slice through enemies with combos of 30+ hits with tight, fluid controls. You can launch enemies in the air and continue to slice them as they descend to earth, or if you’re feeling especially merciless, you can grab them and rip them apart with your bare hands. There are also times when you’ll be prompted to press certain buttons by onscreen prompts that hover above an enemy’s head. Only by following these prompts will you be able to dispatch the larger boss enemies, such as the hydra and the armored minotaur. They will also appear on your normal foes, and by pressing the buttons or rotating the left analog stick as prompted, you will release more or better orbs for Kratos to absorb. These orbs will replenish health and magic or they can be used to upgrade your weapons and magic (a system that is almost identical to Onimusha).

I think what draws me to this game even more than the gameplay is the presentation. I cannot think of another game offhand that matches the overall presentation of God of War. The visuals are outstanding for the PS2 (especially if you have component cables and are outputting in progressive mode), and the way the scenes are put together is really breathtaking at times. The composition of certain scenes makes the game feel more like a big-budget movie than a video game. Add to that a good story, excellent voice acting, and interesting characters, and you have one of the few games that really deserves to be described as epic.

Even considering all that is outstanding about this game, God of War is not a perfect, though some reviewers may lead to you believe otherwise. One of the flaws I found with the game is some of the platforming action. In all likelihood, you will find yourself dying more from missed jumps than from enemy attacks. I don’t mind this to an extent, but there were a couple of areas in which I got a little frustrated. Perhaps the platforming parts were added to change up gameplay and prevent the battles from becoming boring, but I felt they really slowed down the game. Plus, this game feels epic on so many levels that having your character die from missing a moving platform or falling from a wooden beam just doesn’t seem to fit. This isn’t a gymnastics game and Kratos looks nothing like Kerri Strug. There was no need to put in parts to test his balance. Another frustrating part was climbing rotating towers in Hades. From a visual standpoint, the towers with their jutting blades worked and reminded me a little of the rotating pillars in the Hellraiser movies. What was truly hellish about the towers was the frustration they caused. Even grazing a blade sends Kratos plummeting from the tower to the ground below, and when climbing, there is no way to move faster other than to jump up, which may send you directly into one of the blades. To me, it was one of the least enjoyable parts of the game and had me wanting to launch my controller across the room more than once.

Even noting these frustrations, this game really does live up to most of the hype. God of War is not only one of the best titles you will find for the Playstation 2, but it is one of the best action games ever. If you are one of the uninitiated, as I was until this past weekend, then you should definitely add God of War to your must play list. It’s one of those very rare games that you may find yourself popping in now and then five or ten years down the road just for the thrill of unleashing a little Spartan mayhem.

Highly recommended

Note: the video below consists of the final two movies sequences of the game and may contain spoilers.

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