Review by corran450
"Corran 450'S Review Series Vol 3: God of War"
God of War is an action-adventure game released for the PS2 in 2005, but if you're reading this review, you probably already know that. I'd been on the fence about it for a while now, but finally decided to pick it up. Upon finishing the game, the only thing I can think about is why it took me so long to finally play this game. It's absolutely brilliant. And now that it's a Greatest Hit, anyone can pick it up for a bargain price, like I did. And everyone SHOULD pick it up.
God of War is a half platformer, half action game, with deceptively deep gameplay. You control Kratos, a Spartan warrior in ancient Greece. Your weapons against the armies of Ares are the Blades of Chaos, large machete-like blades attached to Kratos's arms by lengthy chains. He can stab and slice with these blades, as well as swing them like whips, inflicting grievous injuries upon his opponents. The blades can be used in dozens of combos you earn along the way, giving Kratos dozens of methods to dispense his revenge.
Along with the blades, Kratos acquires along the way several different magic abilities bestowed upon him by the gods. These abilities can be leveled up by acquiring red orbs from defeated enemies.
In battle against certain enemies, Kratos can grapple with them, entering a small minigame wherein you may be required to tap certain buttons in sequence, or particularly rapidly, in order to deliver a finishing blow against the enemy, usually with a reward of orbs, either red (experience), green (health), or blue (magic energy). This adds a freshness to each encounter with rewards for dexterity and strategy. All of these elements combine to create a strong battle system with surprising deepness.
As for the platforming elements, they are no less varied than enemy encounters, with few missteps. I speak here, of course, of the infamous challenges that await you in the realm of Hades. Make no mistake, these challenges can be brutally difficult. Expect to see YOU ARE DEAD plastered on your screen multiple times. The forced-angle camera makes many of the platforming elements a pain in the butt. But if you like platformers/action games, you should almost be used to that by now.
Kratos's story unfolds through a series of flashbacks that reveal his back story over time. The main gist of the story is this: Kratos is a Spartan warrior who, with the blessings of the Gods of Olympus, is dispatched to Athens to wage battle on the God of War, Ares, and save the city and it's people from destruction. Kratos thirsts for revenge against Ares for events that unfolded previously. I won't give anything away, but suffice to say that Kratos burns with smoldering rage over a great tragedy committed against him.
Okay so the story is not all that original, but the setting is utilized with great effect. Ancient Greece becomes Kratos's playground, and you interact with many characters and foes from ancient Greek mythology.
Warning, mythology buffs: don't expect God of War to accurately represent Greek mythology. The story, by necessity, plays fast and loose with the mythology it's based on. However, if you can find it in your heart to forgive these transgressions, you'll be rewarded with a thoroughly enjoyable experience that uses Greek mythology as a backdrop to the morality tale that plays before you.
The graphics of God of War are stunning. Kratos is appropriately muscled and tattooed. The enemies look interesting, even though there's not much variety. But lets face it, how distinct can they be when you're facing hordes of 5, 10, or even 15 enemies at a time? The settings are colorful and detailed, and of course, drenched in blood and littered with the corpses of the unfortunates who came before you. It begs the question though: if Kratos is the only one strong enough to make it this far, how can there still be corpses of grunts and foot soldiers strewn about? A bold choice by an insane interior decorator?
This game definitely earns its M rating. It is extremely bloody and violent. But it fits in well with the setting, and with Kratos' less than moral personality. Let's face it. Kratos is a jerk. He'll do whatever it takes to destroy his enemies, even kill innocent townspeople for the health orbs he'd receive from them. Also present are many instances of digital boobies, especially in the first act or so. And let's not forget the infamous threesome minigame where Kratos earns red orbs by utilizing two busty beauties in his bed on his ship. Parents, lock this game up from your kids!
The music of God of War is memorable and appropriate. The composers obviously used their orchestra to great effect, as well as the huge choir arrangements they used for the more important scenes. The voice acting is pretty good. A few missteps here and there, plus a ridiculous acting choice in the middle of the game (a wiseguy zombie?!?) keep it from being perfect, but it serves it's purpose. I wish they'd dispense with the ridiculous tradition of giving ancient Greek people British accents, but I guess it's just ingrained in our culture now. Kratos's voice actor is pretty good though.
Sound effects are meaty and bloody sounding. The enemies roar with zeal. Not much more to be said.
Play Time/Replayability: 8
This game is pretty short, especially on Easy/Normal mode. The puzzles are pretty inventive, but with only Three main bosses, your play time could clock in at less than 8 hours. Nevertheless, it's a fun game with several different difficulties to enhance replayability. There's tons of bonus features to unlock, so there's incentive to play again.
That said, one cannot ignore the sheer cathartic quality of beating the crap out of zombies with chained blades and watching their blood spew all over the ground. I know that sounds like something Jack Thompson would use as proof that Video Games are evil, but it's true that the very mature level of violence exhibited in this game can be stress-relieving. Therefore, for it's therapeutic qualities, I'd rate this game's replayability pretty high.
Final Score: 9
There's absolutely no reason not to get this game now that it's a bargain bin title. Unless, of course, you don't like violence, Greek mythology, or fun. I highly recommend this game as it's few flaws are far outweighed by the sheer awesomeness of everything else.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 05/12/08
Game Release: God of War (US, 03/22/05)
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