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God of War (PlayStation 2) artwork

God of War (PlayStation 2) review


"So I was playing God of War the other day. Iíd reached this one room inside the labyrinthian Temple of Pandora where you have to use a lever to knock the the world out of the hands of a model of Atlas. The world will roll down a hallway, destroying a locked door at the other hand. Sounds simple, right? But Iíll be damned if I couldnít get that lever to pull. I moved all around it, I jammed the buttons on my controller, I checked gamefaqs and still the damn thing wouldnít cooperate. ..."



So I was playing God of War the other day. Iíd reached this one room inside the labyrinthian Temple of Pandora where you have to use a lever to knock the the world out of the hands of a model of Atlas. The world will roll down a hallway, destroying a locked door at the other hand. Sounds simple, right? But Iíll be damned if I couldnít get that lever to pull. I moved all around it, I jammed the buttons on my controller, I checked gamefaqs and still the damn thing wouldnít cooperate. Slowly it dawned on me that Iíd encountered that bane of console gamers everywhere.

Iíd encountered a glitch.

There was no other way out of the room. This was no PC game where I could turn clipping off and float on through the door to destiny. Faced with the equally uninviting options of endlessly wandering the room forever or restarting the game from the beginning, I hung my head in despair. There was only one place I believed I could find solace. I reached deep into my soul and asked myself the all encompassing question...

ďWhat would Kratos do?Ē

From within me, I heard the gruff voice of my idol answering. ďJump off the highest cliff in Greece,Ē Kratos said.

Alright, so maybe a man who murders children and has blades grafted into his arms isnít the best guy to turn to in times of despair. But you know... something in his voice steeled my heart. If this life sucks, thereís always the halls of Hades to gallivant around in. What Kratos was really saying was, ďstop being a pansy and restart the game already.Ē Once I picked up on this message I realized I wasnít actually all that upset. So Iíd have to re-defend the besieged Athens from the attacks of a mile high (and very pissed off) Ares. So Iíd have to re-wander the storm ridden deserts of Greece, following the voices of Sirens to find my way. So Iíd have to re-navigate the halls of the dead, tossing enemies into the fiery pits of hell and ripping off the wings of harpies who tried to impede my progress. Who wouldnít want to do these things over and over again?

These are moments that would define the explosive endings of most action games. Not God of War. It holds a gamerís attention all the way through with heated battles and situations befitting a warrior of the gods.

The game starts you off by pitting you against a nine-headed Hydra on the heaving Aegean seas. You know from the moment you take your first swing at the beast that you arenít playing some novice Spartan soldier who may, through hard work and dedication, see himself become a great warrior by the end of the game. Youíre playing an already celebrated hero... a Perseus... a Heracles. Though Iíd like to think Kratos is a bit grimmer than those two.

After slaying the Hydra by repeatedly slamming its head into the jagged remains of the shipís main mast, Kratos hears a plea for help emanating from within its mouth. Venturing into its maw and advancing down its throat, he comes across the captain of the vessel, desperately clinging to the Hydraís slimy throat above a massive pit that drops into the beastís still active stomache.

ďThank the gods you came!Ē the old man cries as Kratos grabs him by the key-chain he wears around his neck and lifts him above the pit. Kratos grabs the key from the chain and stares the old man in the face.

ďI didnít come back for you,Ē he growls and releases his burden into the darkness. Then Kratos goes to his chambers to have his way with the naked women he left there.

In a word, Kratos is a bad ass. Heís also a terrible husband and father, the enemy of feminists everywhere, and a very good candidate for anger management classes, but itís all part of the surprising appeal of his character. More than anything, itís Kratosí inherent brutality that keeps players moving through God of War. You just want to see what this guy will do next.

When told to retrieve the head of Medusa for Aphrodite, you might expect Kratos to use his supernatural blades to do the nasty deed. But he doesnít. He rips the Gorgonís head off WITH HIS BARE HANDS. Shortly after, Kratos encounters a Minotaur. The Spartan is not impressed. He HEADBUTTS the beast and then jams a knife down its gullet. You can only imagine what he does to the lesser zombies and demons that try to get in his way.

Or rather, what YOU do to the poor saps. Thatís the other appeal of God of War. Though Kratos may be a bigger bad-ass than Hector, the link between player and character is never broken. Instead it is reinforced by the fact that Kratos canít fulfill his murderous tendencies without you at the helm, jamming buttons in impromptu quicktime events. Need to rip a foe apart? Jam that ďOĒ button. Need to climb up a Cyclopsí head and stab it in the eye? Pay attention, youíll need to hit the right combination of buttons to achieve this glorious feat.

Kratos isnít an incredibly bright man. But he doesnít need to be. Whereas most heroes have to use their intelligence to survive deadly traps and navigate the trickiest dungeons, ignoring his cranium never seems to get Kratos in any trouble. He makes it by on brawn alone. Sure, there are traps and tricky mazes in God of War, but Kratos doesnít spend time getting stuck in them. Heís not a passive kind of guy. Thereís no such thing as being stuck when you can punch holes through walls. Thatís part of what makes him so incredible. Youíd think his muscles would have their limits, but they donít. If itís bigger, Kratos aims higher. If itís stronger, he hits harder. If thereís a thousand of them, he swings faster. Whether heís climbing the back of the Titan Cronus or pitting his will against the gods themselves, Kratos never fails to overcome with nothing more than his blades and a lot of rage. There will never be a video game hero quite like him.

Itís been several years since God of War was released and itís still hard to find an action game that hits players with the same level of intensity. From the historical streets of Athens to the mythical temple of Pandora, itís an adventure that canít be rivaled and one that is proving to be as enduring as any Odyssey. Having to replay it is like being asked if you want dessert twice.

Rating: 10/10

zippdementia's avatar
Community review by zippdementia (August 10, 2009)

Zipp has spent most of his life standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door. There is a small mailbox there. Sometimes he writes reviews and puts them in the mailbox.

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Feedback

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randxian posted August 10, 2009:

Likes

- Appreciate how you describe Kratos as a character. That way, the player knows what he or she is getting into. Some people, myself included, wouldn't feel comfortable playing as someone this unscrupulous. Thanks for the heads up. I would hate to be out $50 or so playing as someone I don't particularly care for.

- Ties into the first comment, but really enjoyed the vivid descriptions despite having no interest in Kratos.


Dislikes

- A bit confused by how you argue that "doing all those things over again" is a good thing. Couldn't you save right before the glitch in the intro?

- Like Tomb Raider, don't care for the 180. This time, it's not as bad because you really don't go full boar into the issues and you do use it as a segue into selling the game, but still think the intro could be better. That's just me.

- Too many ALL CAPS too close together.

- One of the later paragraphs has you arguing for button mashing and impromptu buttons combos. Maybe it's just me, but I don't care for particularly either one. I'm not sure how this sells the game.

- Couldn't really get into this review, but maybe a large part of that is because I wouldn't care to play this game to begin with knowing Kratos is a real jerk. Not sure how much that skewed by comments.
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zippdementia posted August 10, 2009:

If my review interested you at all, I suggest you read Zig's review of God of War. I personally think he does a much better job of selling the game.

My review was kind've a "retrospective" more than a true sell. I appreciate the comments, as usual (if you ever want to cash in on my offer to look at your reviews, I owe you four at this point)
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Halon posted August 10, 2009:

Zig's God of War is one of my favorite reviews on the site.

Good thing you didn't use that for the TT, I remember a few years back someone used one (Jihad maybe?) and Jerec's critique was something like "fuck fuck fuck God of War fuck fuck fuck I'm not reading this".
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randxian posted August 10, 2009:

Zipp - Would like some feedback for Legacy of the Wizard and Dragon Warrior for right now. As far as the other two, I'll wait until I publish two more NES game reviews.
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bluberry posted August 10, 2009:

"Good thing you didn't use that for the TT, I remember a few years back someone used one (Jihad maybe?) and Jerec's critique was something like "fuck fuck fuck God of War fuck fuck fuck I'm not reading this".

EmP and I know what we're writing next round!

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