God of War
Score: 9.5 / 10
Sony decides to take us back for a different telling of Greek mythology for their latest adventure game God of War. The main character Kratos is the chosen warrior of the gods and he goes wherever the gods require his specific skills of bludgeoning and general pain-delivery. Unlike the traditional “ultimate warriors” of lore, Kratos is a tortured soul who has become numbed from the numerous battles he has fought on behalf of others and longs for the release of his duties and the nightmares that haunt him. Each of the game’s cut-scenes help to show off our hero as a man so tortured by his experiences to the point of becoming unable to interact with the rest of humanity.
first mission is simple enough, help protect a shipping fleet against
the hydra that has been devastating the ships. After a series of battles
against all sorts of mythical beasts (and defeating the multi-headed
hydra), Kratos is given his most important mission of all – to stop
Ares from destroying the city of Athens. It’s not exactly a one-on-one
battle, so you are going to guide Kratos through the horde of monsters
that are pillaging and destroying the city and eventually attain
Pandora’s Box to be able to stop Ares.
are not all the same mass of characters like in older games and each
type of character may not be easily defeated in the same way. Actually
the best way to defeat most enemies is to weaken them through repeated
attacks then grapple with them, which initiates a mini-game to earn
power-ups and a chance to kill the opponent in a single move. Most of
the mini-games are rather simple variants of pressing the button/analog
stick at the right time or button mashing but fight the same enemy too
many times and you’ll get a little bored of it. You can choose to not
engage these mini-games if you want to, but considering that it’s a
quick way to thin the enemy numbers it’s usually a good idea to tough
God of War’s fighting system is downright addictive. Kratos’ primary weapon are a pair of swords that are fused to his arms and which he can (and does) whip around like a kusari-gama (Ninja weapon: chain-sickle) to harm enemies up to distances of approximately 5-6 feet away. As you progress, you can pick up additional fighting techniques from the gods such as Poseidon’s Rage (area affect attack), Medusa’s Gaze (stone transformations), Zeus’ Fury (lightning bolt rampages), Army of Hades (undead assistance), and the Blade of Artemis (a different sword, but much better at eviscerating opponents). Each of these weapons can be upgraded to higher levels of range, power, or to gain new attacks by spending experience (orbs) that you gain through the game’s progression. How do you gain orbs exactly? Defeating enemies, breaking stuff, and optional mini-games that are littered around the world. The battles themselves are almost like dancing when Kratos is on a roll, the animation for every move is smooth and rolls between each combination effortlessly. It’s probably one of the few games that I can sit and watch someone else play with any sort of patience.
For difficulty, I died nine times from a pitfall or puzzle for every time that I died from my
at the initial difficulty setting. That surprised me the first time that I thought about it, because wounds I almost never die from pitfalls but from the actual combat. However, once I beat the game and replayed it on higher difficulty settings that rate drastically changed and I was much more likely to die in combat against the smarter and more numerous enemies. Most of the puzzle deaths can be attributed to the jumping puzzles where I was hit mid-air with no chance of you being able to recover.
Unlike the battles with the usual hordes of enemies, the battles against the bosses are sights to behold. Using the “old-school” approach to bosses, most of them are tiered, and you are going to have to defeat portions of the bosses before you can harm the main portion to actually kill the enemy. The boss fights are so awesome that you actually wish that there were more of them to face off against. For a first pass at the game, it took approximately twelve hours to pass the game; which is well above average for me and I was impressed with the designers ability to create an adventure game of this type and make it last for that long.
God of War is a very impressive game. The battle areas have a lot
of interactive surfaces and there is much to see in each level. To best
display this, the game uses a cinematic approach that fixes the camera
and you are free to move around on the screen from this perspective.
While this does improve the visual feel, it is aggravating when you get
attacked by a mystery opponent that you can’t see due to the forced
screen. Not that it happens often, but it did happen often enough to
annoy me. Each level has it’s own distinctive feel from the rocking
ships of the opening level, to the damaged ruins of Athens, the open
deserts, to the labyrinths where Pandora’s Box is stored. You really
get the feeling that each area is a world to itself and that every zone
is a stand-alone effort.
the game’s soundtrack, Sony used an orchestral score. If nothing else,
the score does lend to the cinematic experience that the designers were
going for, but it does much more in creating a drive for the gamer.
While playing, it’s quite easy to lose track of time and end up
playing for longer stretches than you intended, which certainly makes
for a great game to play as a stress reliever, but not so much for a few
minutes before work. (As an added bonus, the game’s soundtrack has
been made available on-line to people who purchase the game.)
most M-rated games as of late, God of War truly earned its’
rating for not only its violent content but the presence of nudity and
sexual content – not that it’s ever very graphic, some bared breast
on female characters and statues, and a mini-game where you can have sex
with a pair of concubines for “experience.” It’s not a major
portion of the game, but it’s something that might offend some people.
is a highly polished gore-fest that is easily the best game that I have
played on the Playstation 2 this last year.
(April 25, 2005)
you killed the zombie Flanders!”
that’s right. The zombie Flanders.”
- Bart and Homer (The Simpsons)
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