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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Final Review: God of War

So, I finally finished this incredible game, and have written up a small but complete review. Enjoy!

God of War

God of War is a game centered around Greek mythology; mythical beasts, weapons, powers and gods abound. You are Kratos, a mortal who serves the gods, bound to accomplish their bidding. Many years ago, Kratos was a Greek general, commanding an army that annihilated all who stood in their path. One dark day, Kratos' army met the barbarians on the field of battle, self-assured of another simple victory. However, fate had a trump in its hand that day. The tide of the battle soon turned against Kratos' army, and Kratos found himself lying on his back, with the leader of the barabaric army standing over him, blade poised for the death kill. Seeing his life flash before his eyes, he called out to Ares, the God of War, to save his life. In return, Kratos swore his life to the service of the great Ares. Ares complied, and the barbaric army was decimated, Kratos' life spared. And so begins your journey......

This game was incredible. I know, the hype was huge. Any game with a good deal of hype has a tough task ahead of it, trying to fulfill the expectations placed upon it. I believe God of War does this effortlessly, and looks/feels great while doing it. Allow me to break it down, gangsta-style. (Well, not really like a gangsta....I'm whiter than Anthony Michael Hall in The Breakfast Club)

The best word for the sound in God of War would be "fitting". The ambient sound, as well as the sound effects, are totally in keeping with the setting and feel of the game. Kratos' gravelly voice conveys his inner turmoil and torture, and the screams of his victims during the cutscenes will make you glad you never faced off against him. The enemy beasts emit the expected growls and bellows, and that makes it all the more fun to bash the living crap out of them.

Score: Great.
What I loved most about the sound: Kratos’ voice. Totally fits his persona.

While the graphics are impressive, they are earth-shattering like some reviews have touted them to be. They can't compare to some other recent PS2 titles, such as Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones, or Resident Evil 4. Still, they are quite nice. The build and muscle mass of Kratos' design really make him seem powerful and strong. The scenery is beautiful, even epic. My favorite image, however, is the swinging of the deadly Blades of Chaos as they slice the enemies to pieces. They flail about, leaving a trail of blood and gore in their path, and leaving me feeling totally satisfied. Good stuff.

Score: Good.
What I loved most about the graphics: The Blades of Chaos whirling around as they bring my enemies to their knees.

I loved the story. Kratos' journey to redemption is a believable one, and you can feel his pain as his story is played out before you. A creepy old woman serves as the narrator, and her voice is right on. The story begins with our anti-hero throwing himself from a cliff, in an attempt to end his pain and suffering. The narrator then takes you back to the beginning of Kratos' trek to slay the god Ares. During this trek, you are given flashbacks of Kratos' past, and these help clue you in as to why he is in so much personal hell. Cut scenes are used well, spaced correctly and helping to propel the story, without distracting from the action. And man, does the action abound! That is for the gameplay section, though....
I think the story is awesome. The devs took some creative freedom in the design of the enemies, levels, and background, and it works very well. You feel like you are in ancient Greece mythology, but somehow it seems almost modern in it's delivery. The gameplay actually only spans what seems to be a few days, but the story presented covers more than 10 years. It is done so fluently, you will always know what is going on.

Score: Great.
What I loved most about the story: The sheer goriness of it. The game is totally unapologetic about the murderous nature of Kratos, and I love it.

Ah, the meat of the review. Yes, God of War is best when served hot and messy, and that's the way you're gonna be getting it. Tons of enemies to slay, tons of puzzles to solve, tons of bosses and mini-bosses to overcome.....it's all here, and they even tied it up in a pretty package for you. The fighting is so much fun. You will ultimately have three weapons, but only two are available for the bulk of the game. Of those two, you will use the Blades of Chaos the most. The Blade of Artemis is a massive sword, slow and powerful, and not nearly as fun to wield as the Chaos Blades. These Blades are like short fat swords on chains, that you swing around using your square and triangle keys. X is used for jumping, and O is for holds, and for activating the fatality-esqe kill scenes. Throughout the course of the game, you will gain access to many different combos, so the fighting never gets stale. There is always some new combo or item to try out on the doomed enemies that rise before you.

To add to the mischief, you are able to acquire several special abilities during the course of the game. These are Poseidon’s Rage, Zeus’ Fury, Medusa’s Gaze, and Army of Hades. All are very unique, and come in handy in different situations. These would be considered the magic attacks of the game. All of them are upgradeable, as are the Blades of Chaos and the Blade of Artemis. This role-playing element really adds a nice touch, even though it is a rather small part of the game.

The combat is what kept me coming back for more. It is what compelled me to switch on my PS2 every chance I got. It is what made me replay certain parts of the game, just so I could kill the enemies again. And, it is what will have me playing this game again and again, and never selling/trading it. It really is THAT fun. It feels a good deal like the combat in Rygar, with Blades of Chaos handling similar to the Disc that Rygar uses. By the way, if you haven’t played Rygar for PS2, you really should. You can get it for less than $10, and it is a great gaming experience.

Score: Amazing.
What I loved most about the gameplay: How could I ever choose?

The game has some good extras. The Challenge of the Gods is unlocked once you beat the game, and it is a series of challenges that help you unlock costumes. These costumes can then be used in a new game, and offer varying strengths and weaknesses. These challenges are no pushover however; I have yet to complete this task.

The game also offers some great artwork from the game, deleted levels, and even some videos that hint at what the sequel might center around. Finally, beating the game unlocks God Mode. Beating the game in God Mode unlocks other extras, but seeing as how I haven’t attempted God Mode yet, I can’t clue you in on what those extras might be.

Score: Good.
What I loved most about the extras: The ability to unlock a cow suit. Hilarious.

This game, for me, was all it was cracked up to be. I enjoyed it from start to finish, and hope to play it again soon. The best part of the experience came in the beginning: As I began to control Kratos, I really and truly felt like a bada$$ myself. Kratos is undeniably strong and unforgiving, and that really translates well to the player. I could feel myself assuming his demeanor during the game, taking out all my vicious anger on the foes that rose before me. Down they went….oh yes, down they went.

Score: Great, great, great. Go buy this now. It’s worth the extra money. 9.5/10

Posted by Ender :: 1:17 PM :: 3 comments

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