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God of War II (PlayStation 2) artwork

God of War II (PlayStation 2) review


"God of War II is not complicated. Multi-faceted plot? Pfft. How about five cutscenes in the whole game? Yeah, that's right. Even though the game is inundated with a stupidly self-conscious epic narrative and an equally pompous musical score, you won't care once you press the start button. From beginning to end, God of War II is Exhibit A for ass-kickery. You know those parts in other games where you're just forcing yourself along so you can get to the next cool part? They don't exist in GoW2. Ev..."



God of War II is not complicated. Multi-faceted plot? Pfft. How about five cutscenes in the whole game? Yeah, that's right. Even though the game is inundated with a stupidly self-conscious epic narrative and an equally pompous musical score, you won't care once you press the start button. From beginning to end, God of War II is Exhibit A for ass-kickery. You know those parts in other games where you're just forcing yourself along so you can get to the next cool part? They don't exist in GoW2. Every part is awesome. And that's why GoW2 is an awesome game.

Kratos is one cold-hearted SOB. He's paler than a bowl of Kix cereal, he carries a pair of bloody chain blades wherever he goes, and he's half-naked to boot. And right off the bat, he's battling the ancient Greek predecessor to every giant robot anime ever created. Enter the Colossus of Rhodes, who provides the first forty-five minutes of the game with a non-stop boss fight. You'll jump around the city as it's being demolished, unleashing some stupendously violent finishing moves on all the enemies along the way. And then it's time to face off against the colossus itself. The first such confrontation comes after you launch yourself off a giant catapult, land on its head, and mutilate its eye via Dragon's Lair-style timed button presses.

Oh, yes, the button presses. They've seen a resurgence lately, starting with Shenmue a few years back, and then Resident Evil 4 in 2005. More games need to pick up on these things; few game mechanics are as satisfying as ripping a Medusa's head off with a carefully executed spin of the analog stick. These types of commands are sprinkled all throughout the game, and every one of them is a welcome sight: slam a door into a man's head repeatedly until all his blood's squirted out! Backflip over a minotaur's head and decapitate the bastard on the way down! Wrench out Icarus' wings as the two of you grapple each other while falling from thousands of feet in the air! Lots more where those came from.

So, beyond those obviously entertaining scenarios, what does God of War II’s gameplay have to offer? It comes down to this: you’ve got your blades. You’ve got a bunch of mean-looking monsters coming your way. You kick some ass. Well, okay, you solve a few puzzles too, but the split between action and thinking is about 90/10. And I suppose there’s also other methods of attack besides your blades...unlike in the first GoW, some of them are actually useful, too. But since the blades are what you start out with, and since they look so damn cool, you’ll probably stick with them for most of the game. Just mash those two attack buttons--Circle is light, Triangle is heavy--and no matter which combination of the two you try, it’s going to look awesome. The death throes of your enemies are accompanied by fountains of blood; at times, it feels like Mortal Kombat in Greece.

This is the charm of God of War; it may not be as difficult, as deep, or as long as other games, but it’s a whole lot of fun. Virtually every complaint about the original game has been addressed: lack of boss battles? GoW2 has them in double digits. Only eight hours long? More like twelve this time around--still not the longest game in the world, but there’s quite a bit of content here. You have to use the blades throughout the whole game? Well, never really understood that complaint, since they’re fun as Hades, but GoW2 nonetheless gives the player some more options with the equally brutal hammer and spear. The whole game feels tremendously polished; the quest is so expertly paced, the battles so relentlessly entertaining, and the environments so gorgeous to look at that it must be backwards day if you don’t enjoy it. And while we’re on the topic of visuals: GoW2 is probably the best-looking game on the PS2. All this talk of next-gen consoles, and yet the little black brick of 2000 still manages to impress.

GoW2 isn’t perfect. The storyline is laughably pretentious, the voice acting is generally hammy, and the ending--epic though it may be--is pretty lame. Oh, and having to wait three years for God of War 3? Brutal. Though these flaws bring the game from HOLY CRAP AWESOME to just awesome, it’s still, well, awesome. This is the definition of brainless fun. Go play the game already so you can agree with me.

Rating: 8/10

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Community review by phediuk (March 21, 2007)

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