Review by GodOfWarFanatic
"The definite God of War review."
Obviously, this is the game that inspired my user-name here. Now it's kind of predictable that I'd give God of War a 10 and not just because of my user-name, but also by recommendation lists I've posted on the message boards for PS2 owners. Whilst it's not my favorite game, well anymore, it's definitely my favorite PS2-exclusive and second favorite game of the last-generation. God of War received a lot of critical attention prior and after its initial release in March of 2005. After its release, it received mostly outstanding scores from professional and non-professional critics, alike. It's mainly a blend of three types of genres; Action/Adventure, 3-D Platforming, and Puzzles. On paper, this might not sound appealing, but it blends all three so well. Let's get on with the review.
Now unlike my newer reviews, I'm not going to have a catchy and cheesy tagline for each of the sub-categories that I'm rating. And that's because, honestly, I don't feel like it. But I'll still label them as the boring subtitles so you can easily get to where the part you want to read, since I know you won't read this whole thing. Unless, you appreciate people taking their own time to write a review and "reward" them by actually reading most of the review, or the whole thing.
So anyways, where were we? Oh yeah, the review...my bad.
In this game, you take the role of Kratos. He is the perfect definition of an "anti-hero." He is definitely troubled, but you just don't know why, yet you want to know. He's always pissed-off and he is obviously selfish. He doesn't care for anyone, but himself. The story is heavily based off of Greek Mythology. The main antagonist is Ares, the God of War, also the son of Zeus. Ares must be destroyed, but the Gods cannot stop him since Zeus has banned Gods from going to war against each other, so he must send in a mortal. Guess who that mortal is?
When first starting the game, you watch a little prologue of Kratos jumping from Mt. Olympus in an attempt of suicide. You don't know why this is happening. You don't know why this is the first thing they show. Then it cuts to a caption saying "three-weeks earlier" and you begin the game. As it turns out, Ares is producing havoc in the beautiful city of Athens, in which is named after Ares' sister, Athena. She soon tells you in order for a mortal to defeat a God; you must find Pandora's Box. Most of the game is attempting to reach Pandora's Temple whether Pandora's Box is located, trying to retrieve the box in Pandora's Temple, and escaping from the underworld. Now of course, this is not going to be an easy task.
As you progress, the plot holes you were wondering about are suddenly answered. And boy is it surprising and exciting. This just makes the already excellent story even better. Usually in Action/Adventure games such as God of War, the story isn't really what is important so the developers lack the motivation to create a half-way decent story. This game is an exception. Not only is it known for its epic game play, but also it's incredible story. This will definitely make you interested in Greek Mythology, as it did with me. If I heard those two words prior to playing this gem, I would just think Zeus or other mythical creatures. Now, I only think of Kratos of the actual game title, all though mythical creatures and Greek Gods are present.
Kratos is definitely one of the most recognizable characters in any game. Even though he isn't really a good guy, he is a great protagonist. Honestly, you don't know what to think of him. Is he a good guy? Is he a bad guy? It's just either way, you like him and you don't know why. His past (I'm not going to spoil anything) is it's own story altogether.
In modern action/adventure games, you don't expect an epic story at all. Even though it is sometimes generic, it's still one amazing story. It could be considered movie-worthy, even. And it's not just the story that's good, but how they tell it with the emotional and most of the time, brutal cut scenes.
By first-glance, you automatically know God of War isn't trying to look realistic, like how shooters do. While it is more of a "cartoony" look, it definitely doesn't feel like modern-day cartoons. Mainly due to the intense game play. But the actual detail is incredible, with the environments and characters alike. In many games, environments get repetitive looking, whether it'd be in a place where the background just doesn't change, or if it's later in the game. Again, like the story aspect, God of War is an exception. The thing that is worth noting the most is, of course, the animations. Whether it'd be in a cut-scene or in-game. When Kratos pulls off a large combo, the animation is solid. The cut-scenes are amazing, and I add emphasis on that word. Even the blood-shed looks incredible, I should add that this is a very bloody game. Usually in games, whether it'd be an RPG or FPS, I eventually get bored of cut-scenes and end of skipping them (unless it is a movie-worthy story). God of War in this case, I LOVE watching the cut-scenes. They are incredible looking and very entertaining.
Sorry for getting a little carried away with the cut-scene talk. Let's talk about magic-animation. Instead of getting too elaborate, I will just say that like the cut-scenes and in-game graphics, they are amazing, along with beautiful. I also love how the girls look on the board :). I will say the only downfalls are minimal frame-drops, only when in massive battles and you can obviously see that every character doesn't look as good as Kratos.
If the enemies, along with other characters, were more detailed, I'd give the graphics department a solid 10/10. Most of the time, I don't take off points for frame-drops, unless they are so bad that they actually hinder the game play, which is void for this game.
Voice-acting, along with sound effects are superb. I'll first start with the outstanding voice-acting. First, I must congratulate everyone who did a voice-over in this game. I can't think of one instance where the voice-acting was appalling. But the two voice-overs that stand out from the rest are the actor who played Kratos and the actress who played the narrator. I'm not going to explain the narrator too much, except it sounds how a female, dramatic narrator should sound like...if you can understand that. The actor who played Kratos, on the other hand, was flawless. Since Kratos is an angry person 24/7 and never shows any other emotion than excessive anger, you'd expect an angry voice all the time, and that's what we got. Whether he is talking at a regular tone or yelling, it always emphasizes anger in such a brilliant way. Just plain, outstanding. I could go on, like I did with cut-scenes, but I won't.
The sound-effects sounds like what they should sound like; realistic. Unless it wants to be a reminiscent of a comic book, but it's not. Whether it'd be the sound of the Blades of Chaos (Kratos' signature weapon) hitting the pavement, or him performing magic, it all sounds beautiful. This has, without a doubt, some of the best sound-effect work and voice-acting to ever grace a video game. And I proudly say that.
The controls work perfectly. Instead of telling you which controls do what, (for the most part) I'm going to explain the combo simplicity. In games like God of War, you probably refer to it as a "button-masher." And while it is that, there are many combos you can perform. This also adds strategic game play with how you can take out your foes. You could probably just keep mashing the square button on the lowest difficulty and get away with it, but there are so many options of what combos you can do where you'd eventually think "Where's the fun in that?" Let me tell you something, since the animations of the different combos are executed so beautifully, you will want to experiment. To execute heavy attacks, you press the triangle button. For light attacks; the square button. Use them together; you can possibly string together a massive combo. There also many other variations to what kind of moves you can do, like pressing a shoulder button and triangle, etc.
Another bonus, that isn't relevant with combos, is that you can double-jump by pressing the X button twice. Awesome! Now remember, instead of button-mashing, experiment. There are so many moves you can pull of in this game that I can't even count. And aside from being for deadly, it's awesome to see a new combo pulled off.
This is truly where God of War shines. All though it is outstanding in practically every department mentioned, the game play takes the cake. Since we've already pointed out that it's fun to play with, I'm going to first mention special moves and grabs. When facing weaker enemies like foot soldiers and harpies, you can press "O" to grab them for a slightly cinematic, instant kill. Most enemies, you have to weaken them, then a button prompt will appear over the said enemy and they will be dazed, this is when you can do special moves. It consists of a little, but fun mini-game and if successful, you'll pull off an awesome finishing move (or special move).
You main weapon is the Blades of Chaos, which are those blades that are attached to a chain which are attached to Kratos' arm. These are in a simple word; bad-ass. As you progress, you obtain magic and one more weapon; the Blade of Artemis. You may be disappointed at the lack of weapon variety, but trust me, you won't even think of that once you play it. Every weapon at your disposal is upgradeable. How you do it exactly? I'll explain later.
Orbs: Orbs consist of three different types. Magic orbs (blue). Health orbs (green). And experience orbs (red). They are obviously so. Magic orbs refill a portion of you magic, health orbs does the same thing, but for health, and experience orbs are basically the currency you use to upgrade your weapons and magic. To obtain this you ask? Well there are chests populating each level, in which usually contain one of the three. Magic and Health orbs are easily marked and are usually both side by side. When you open these chests, they completely refill your health or magic. Chests containing experience orbs are rarer. Another way, also the most common and easy way, is by defeating enemies. You mainly earn experience points when you kill enemies, but if you do special kills, you receive health and/or magic orbs along with it.
Gorgon Eyes and Phoenix Feathers: These are in unmarked chests. They are rarer than the orbs. What these do is permanently increase your health (Gorgon Eyes) or magic (Phoenix Feathers). These are almost mandatory for survival on harder difficulties. You have to collect six of each for your health or magic to increase, so it'll be a semi-long process, depending on whether you explore the levels.
Weapons and Magic (Upgrades): Like I've already said, when you progress through the game, you obtain four different magic abilities given to you by the different Gods and another weapon. Every one of these is upgradeable. When you submit the required number of orbs to upgrade one level, the said weapon or magic ability becomes more powerful. For the Blades of Chaos, you will learn more moves. With magic, the power usually just becomes more powerful, like with Poseidon's Rage (explained later), the area it covers becomes bigger and the actual lightning becomes stronger.
Magical Abilities: You have four different magical abilities. Poseidon's Rage is the first ability you get and probably the most useful, especially when upgraded. What it is basically Kratos summoning lightning damaging every nearby enemy. Medusa's Gaze is the second ability you get. If you know anything about Medusa, you'd probably know what this power does. As legend goes, if you look into the eyes of Medusa, you turn into stone. That's what this does. You pull out Medusa's head and point it at enemies, the bigger they are, the longer it takes. The problem is that you have to hold it pointing at the enemy for it to be successful. Gorgon's (minions of Medusa) have the same power, however. The third ability you obtain is Zeus' Fury, which is basically your long-range weapon. Since Zeus is the God of Lightning or thunder or whatever, you get to throw lightning bolts. You can also hold the lightning bolt in your hand to charge it and make it more powerful. The last ability is the Army of Hades. This is where you summon souls from the underworld to kill/attack any nearby enemy. This is also good for racking up big combos.
Bosses: Another quality God of War is known for. Each and every boss battle is epic, especially the Hydra, giant Minotaur, and predictable spoiler ahead!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!: Ares. All of them are not too easy, but they aren't too hard either. And I like that. It provides challenge, but not at the point where you are frustrating and ready to throw the controller at your window. When you kill them, you do the mini-game mentioned earlier which leads to a cinematic and gory finisher. Incredible. Just incredible.
Again, there are puzzles that you have to solve. Fortunately and surprisingly, they don't really make the game boring; it's a different change of pace that actually works. They are fairly simple, too, but some can provide a challenge. The feeling of accomplishment when completing the harder puzzles is just an excellent feeling, along with a quick burst of excitement (Stop thinking dirty). And yet again, this also has Platforming parts. It usually consists of keeping your balance on a wooden beam and if you fall, you die. Simple as that. It's just weird how three totally different genres all blend together perfectly.
The longevity of this game can last anywhere from 10-15 hours on your first play through. Afterwards, when you beat the game on any difficulty, you unlock God Mode. Good luck (And I'm proud to say I've beaten it). There is also a good number of unlockables. Without having to beat it, you can see the making of God of War and two different trailers. When you beat the game on any difficulty, you can view levels that were cut from the game, some of which make you wonder why they didn't keep it. You can also see how the levels were designed, the same with the different enemies. There is also the character graveyard, which is one of my personal favorites. You can see enemies and characters that didn't make it in the game, including prototypes of Kratos, Gorgons, etc. You can also view every cut-scene that was in the game as much as you want. The most notable, however, is the Challenge of the Gods, which is compiled into 10 difficult challenges and when you beat that, you unlock additional costumes. You also unlock three different things when you beat the game on God mode, but that's for you to figure out.
Replay ability: Honestly, this game strangely has god replay value...at least for me. There are three default difficulty modes, along with one unlockable difficulty mode. Also Challenge of the Gods is extremely entertaining. It's also interesting what other secrets are unveiled, even though you can probably look them up on Youtube, but that's just...I don't know, messed-up. If you dislike Challenge, you'll probably play this game on Mortal difficulty one time and be done, possibly give Challenge of the Gods a try, but give up quickly. For me, I actually played through this give at least 20 times, literally. But I seem to have addiction habits with games that I adore. I'm not going to guarantee that you'll play this game more than once or twice, but either way, the replay value was high for me.
Replay ability: 10/10
Final Rating: 10/10
God of War is a masterpiece. It might not be incredibly innovative, but it definitely overruns games that are similar. With some of the best combat systems, along with superb voice-acting and epic boss fights, among many other things, this deserves no less than a perfect score. And it being my favorite game for over a year is saying something. Even though now, it's only my third favorite game of all time.
Even though it may not have the same replay value to you as it did for me, I'd still buy this if you own a PS2. God of War is a must-have for any PS2 owner and/or collector. If this review motivates you to buy this game and you end up not liking it, well, there is nothing I can do for you. I wasn't disappointed with this game, at all. I loved every bit of it. It is outstanding on nearly every level that you can categorize games in making it an essential PS2 purchase. God of War is a game that created one of the most recognizable protagonists ever, along with one (actually two) of the most bad-ass weapons to ever grace a video game. This goes the same for God of War 2. So what are you waiting for? Buy the damn game. Now!
Oh, there is one thing I forgot to mention. The Blade of Artemis is a giant sword that takes bad-ass to a whole new level. All though it's a bit on the slow side, as rightfully so, it takes out enemies fast.
So if you want bad-ass weapons, an excellent story, gory game play, fantastic cut-scenes, epic boss battles, great unlockables, and just simply one of the greatest games to ever grace this earth in your collection, then God of War is your game. Especially if you liked games like the 3-D Ninja Gaidens and Devil May Cry.
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 08/01/08
Game Release: God of War (US, 03/22/05)
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