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God of War (PlayStation 2) artwork

God of War (PlayStation 2) review

"I put off buying God of War for a year. Despite people raving about it and critics praising it, I chose to spend my hard earned money on games like Kingdom Hearts and Shining Tears. Which makes me wonder if I’m crazy. I almost passed this gem up for Donald Duck and cartoon graphics? "

I put off buying God of War for a year. Despite people raving about it and critics praising it, I chose to spend my hard earned money on games like Kingdom Hearts and Shining Tears. Which makes me wonder if I’m crazy. I almost passed this gem up for Donald Duck and cartoon graphics?

Kratos would kick my ass. Violently.

That, however, is what makes God of War so original and one of the year’s best—the violence. It’s not your typical “Manhunter” or “Bloodrayne” that uses the violence as a central theme or a selling point, God of War simply uses the setting of a very violent time in history to tell its story. The violence is so intricately woven into that story it never becomes over bearing; I never saw it as a cheap gimmick much like I did with those games above. Yes, you do some downright brutal things. Ripping the heads off gorgons, impaling snakes on giant steel pikes and cramming your sword down Minotaurs mouths isn’t something you see everyday but that is just one of so many tremendous aspects God of War has going for it. Is this game brutal? Yes. Is that brutality used as a marketing ploy or a diversion to draw you away from all the flaws? Never. God of War has few flaws, if any.

Speaking of terrific elements, allow me to wax, for a moment about the game’s main character, Kratos. In crude and simple terms, Kratos is a bad ass. Kratos isn’t out to save “Spira” nor is he trying to rescue a princess or stop a countdown. Kratos is an anti-hero. The story depicts him in a desperate race to find “Pandora’s Box” all so he can harness enough of its power to kill Aries and save the city of Athens.

Ah ha. Didn't you just say he wasn't out to save anything?

I did, but you soon find out that his goal to save the city doesn't stem from a desire to do the right thing or play the hero, rather he was bribed; promised to be rid of his nightmares once and for all by Athena. This man’s sole motivation is selfishness. Kratos doesn’t care about saving lives, only saving himself.

That’s what makes him so cool, though. Yes, he is a bit one sided and is often only manipulated into doing heroic things, but it’s a downright blast playing a son of a bitch sometimes. I thought it was awesome when Kratos ran down the throat of the dead Hydra and saw the ship’s captain hanging there by one finger, trying to avoid the “belly of the beast.” I thought for sure that Kratos would help him to safety. Rather, he took the key to the female holding area from the captain’s neck then tossed him right into the creature’s stomach acid. It’s no question as to why he wanted that key, and what he would have done to the women had they still been alive when he finally got in there.

Later on in the game was another demonstration of Kratos’ original attitude. In one of the many hallways you travel down, dozens of soldiers are caged and hanging from the ceiling. As you lower one of them, the solider inside praises you as a hero and thanks you for his very life. Kratos, however, tells him each person needs to make a sacrifice to the Gods. He screams, rattles the cage and begs for his life but Kratos, oblivious to his pleading, drags him up the hill, shoves him in front of medieval afterburners, pulls the switch and burns him alive, all just to open a door.

Kratos can battle with the best of them, too. The chaos blades are wicked little swords permanently attached to his arm by chains that allow you to pull off some pretty brutal combos. You can sling the blades halfway across the screen, impale an enemy and then use him as a wrecking ball against the others. You can slam both blades into the ground to create an uproar of lava then leap into the air, outstretch the blades and spin around like a buff, tattooed figure skater. Kratos also has some wicked finishers to follow the combos. My favorite was where he took the arm of a skeletal soldier, snapped it and pulled it behind it’s back, then shoved the skeletons own sword through its spine.

God of War has only a few notable downsides. The game looks great, and the cut-scenes are some of the best I’ve seen but it’s lacking in the sound department. The voice-overs are great but as far as music goes, I don’t even remember it. It wouldn’t hurt to have some violent metal to listen to while committing violent acts.

Some of the levels can be enough to give you an aneurysm. Most of them, like the city of Athens, look great and are fun to play. God of War recreates the architecture of Greece with huge pillars, massive stair cases, incredibly detailed marble and gigantic statues tributed to the Gods, but a select few of them drag on longer than they should, which I wouldn’t mind if they had decent boss fights, but this game is missing boss fights in general. I think I recall three in the entire game, and that’s not enough for me considering there are three times as many levels. Then, there was Hades. It was hell. No, not the atmosphere, actually playing it. I just became so annoyed and frustrated because of an overabundance of “instant death” traps. I don’t mind of a few of them, but when the whole level is one big calamity it’s irritating.

In the end, so what? None of those things could ever really blemish this wonderful game. God of War is brutally stylish, menacingly original and a malevolent joy. It seamlessly blends together each element of any decent action game and even adds a few of its own. For all those who think of Devil May Cry and Castlevania as the lords of the action genre, make way for the new God.

True's avatar
Community review by True (April 05, 2006)

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