Describing God of War as godly is an understatement. Released on March 22, 2005, developed by Sony Computer Entertainment's Santa Monica division, God of War is action-adventure game loosely based on Greek mythology. The winner of over a dozen Game of the Year awards, God of War is certainly the best PS2 game of 2005, if not the best game on the console itself.
“You are Kratos and you will murder the God of War…”
The story unfolds through in game sequences complemented by some of the most beautiful (and gory!) FMV’s on par with the likes of Final Fantasy, though with a very different style and undertone. Kratos begins on a complex of ships which you must travel over and traverse through in order to rid the seas of the fearsome Hydra. Kratos does this because he must serve the gods in order to rid himself of his terrible nightmares which spawned from a gruesome event in his past. After defeating the Hydra, Athena asks Kratos of one final task - to kill a god. In order to do this he must use the only weapon, the only power capable of defeating a god: Pandora’s Box. So begins the epic adventure of Kratos as he sets out to murder his former master Ares, the God of War.
Graphics are seamless and realistic, capable in running in 480p widescreen. At the beginning of the Playstation 2’s era, these graphics might have seemed impossible to achieve. The polygon count is incredibly high for a PS2 game, the textures are great, and the frame rate is a rock solid 60 FPS (running in progressive scan). The game itself just feels perfectly polished when played through. Kratos’s blades of chaos are particularly well done, leaving behind a fiery streak of orange when swung. The environments are stunning and unbelievably detailed to say the least. They perfectly portray the feeling of Ancient Greece. The enemies and bosses are mostly recognizable from Ancient Greek myths, full of minotaurs, gorgons, and undead soldiers just to name a few. Also, one must keep in mind the mature title isn’t misleading, as there are buckets of blood, intense violence, and nudity practically teeming inside this game. Not that that’s a bad thing, just keep the young’uns away from this one.
Audio has never been this good
Graphics alone don’t fully immerse a player in the setting of a game; sound has to back that up -- otherwise you're simply sitting in their living room watching a pretty picture. In God of War, you're in a hidden temple stabbing a minotaur in the head. That is to say, the sound in this game fully immerses you in its setting. The musical score is epic, featuring Ancient Greek scores that insert flair, pressure, and overall emotion into the package. Of course the sound quality is top notch as well, and those with good speakers will truly appreciate it. The voice acting is another great feature of God of War. Linda Hunt plays the narrator, whose authentic voice really helps set the attitude during the unbelievable FMV’s. In the simplest terms possible, Kratos acts and sounds like a badass. He’s out for revenge and you can feel his anger and passion throughout the game. Ares also plays his part with his contemptuous attitude. The rest of the sound effects fill their place; whether it is listening to the blades of chaos hiss as they slice through the air, the sound of metal on metal as Kratos blocks an enemy attack, or the sound of a gorgon’s head being ripped off its shoulders, everything just fits. This is beyond doubt one of the most dramatic games ever.
Fluidity is key
God of War’s gameplay is by far the most fluid experience you will ever have with a game. No other action-adventure game matches God of War’s gameplay mechanics. The Blades of Chaos are the heart of your arsenal, effectively combining two blades with chain whips. The chains are attached to Kratos’s arms, and as he swoops around his enemies, the blades swing around him. Blocking and dodging is also a necessary part of the game, especially on either of the hard or god modes. Various types of attacks (light, heavy, rush, and more) can be combined to create devastating combos. The combo system is flawless, allowing for maximum freedom and dozens of ways to defeat enemies. As you defeat enemies and perform combos, you'll receive red orbs which are concurrently used to power up your arsenal.
Over the course of game Kratos acquires four different spells and one new weapon. All can be leveled up a maximum of three times yielding power upgrades and slightly more useful mechanics. The new weapon you receive is Artemis’ Blade. It is fun, but not nearly as useful or fluid as the Blades of Chaos. The four different magicks include Poseidon’s Rage (shocks all enemies in vicinity), Medusa’s Gaze (turns enemies to stone), Zeus’ Fury (hurls lightning bolts), and finally Army of Hades (unleashes the souls of the dead upon enemies).
When any enemy's life is low, a button sequence can be initiated. Depending on the type of enemy you're facing, these can range from quickly pressing circle to stab the Blades of Chaos down a minotaur’s throat, rolling the analog stick to rip off a gorgon’s head, or a multitude of other variations. These minigames are also initiated during miniboss and boss battles, often being truly unique sequences that are glorious to watch. Not to forget the sex minigame either (exercise your mind to imagine what you do). There is also the occasional puzzle that must be solved in order to progress. They are never mind-boggling, but sometimes you must act quickly or die. While there are only three main boss battles, they are so epic and incredible they make up for the small number.
When finishing the game on either easy, normal, or hard; a ton of new content (including the hardest mode) is unlocked. You also unlock “The Challenge of the Gods” which is a ridiculously hard set of 10 challenges that will keep anyone playing for a long time. After beating god mode one unlocks even more content which give many different paths for a sequel and details about Kratos's life. There is so much replayability in this game, it certainly warrants a purchase.
God of War is one of those rare games that nobody can afford to miss. With groundbreaking visuals, sound, and gameplay, this title will go down in history. Experience the phenomenon that is God of War.
-The Final Word-
One of the most outstanding games on PS2.