Review by NeoTS
"Not the God of Action Gaming"
If you want to play God of War for the senseless brutality and easy to pick up action, then you will love this game. If you want play for innovation and originality, then this game may not be for you. For months on end, I've heard about the cool new features in this game that were supposed to take action/adventure games to another level. God of War does nothing of the sort. What it does do, however, is borrow elements from other games and mesh them to create a great game to just pick up and play. The adventuring isn't as smooth as Prince of Persia's, nor is its action refined as Devil May Cry's. So while it isn't necessarily as deep as other action titles out there, it is a lot of fun to play.
You are Kratos, a murderous Spartan whose only objective in life is to kill the God of War, Ares. You find out why throughout the course of the game, in a slowly unravelling plot told through flashbacks inter-cut with his current actions. Ares is on a war path, and this time, the city of Athens is his target. Athena does not want her precious city to be destroyed, but the Gods cannot fight with each other. And so she enlists the help of Kratos. If he can defeat the God of War, he will be forgiven for his murderous past in which he sought nothing but power.
It seems as if Kratos was once a great servant of Ares. Bound to his wrists with chains are the Blades of Chaos, which serve as the primary weapon for cutting your foes in half with. The battle system is ordinary if anything. With the four face buttons, you can perform a jump, a grab, a normal attack and a heavy attack. You can of course mix things up quite a bit. When you've grabbed an enemy, you can fling him toward others or just rip him in half. If you manage to get an enemy up in the air, you can smash the hell out of him and send him back towards the crowd. Once defeated, enemies will drop red orbs (hmmm), which can be used to upgrade your movesets and make your magic more powerful. The extra moves involve holding down the L1 button while you fight, and while they're very cool, there really isn't a spot in the game where you'll need to have them. Even towards the end of the game, I was still using basic combos and blowing the enemies away without too much trouble. Thankfully, the action is lightning fast, and a lot of fun to watch, even if you aren't doing much. Most enemies have a threshold for abuse, and if you whittle their health down far enough, you'll be able to perform a Mortal Kombat-style fatality on them. For minotaurs, he'll jam his sword down their throat, for centaurs, he'll cut off their front legs and impale them through the chest. This game is all about the violence, make no mistake.
The magic is truly secondhand to the hack n slash. It's more of a back-up, if you're really desperate, you can let fly with a few cool attacks to give you space. You can turn your enemies to stone with the Medusa's head, zap them with Zeus' lightning bolt, ravage them with Posieden's rage, or call the army of Hades to help you out. I didn't use the magic very often, though certain spells are great for certain enemies. There is also quite a bit of adventuring, which is quite similar to that of Prince of Persia. You'll have to scamper across narrow beams, climb rock walls, leap great heights and swing from ropes. This is mostly filler, although at one stage toward the end of the game, the platforming became more annoying than fun. You'll occasionally have to fight on rock walls or while dangling from a rope, but there isn't very much variety to this game. The enemies are all the same, the traps are fairly standard, and the puzzles are, well, not exactly hard. There are also only three boss fights in the entire game. Now, a game based off Greek mythology should do better than that. For what it's worth, the boss fights are the best parts of the game, and really show you what this game is capable of. Unfortunately, it just didn't fall in with the rest of the game-play.
Don't get me wrong, this game does pretty much everything right as far as the game-play is concerned. But rather than being something completely unique, it feels like it has taken the best parts of the best games out there, and given them a slight downgrade to make the game more playable. This game will probably be amazing to casual gamers, who aren't used to the refined combat system found in DMC or the smoothness of PoP. I would like to call this an adventure game, or even an action game, but it really is just a hack n slash. You can get through the game easily just by button-mashing.
On the upside, the graphics and sound are absolutely amazing. This is easily one of the best looking games available on the PS2. Everything comes together to create the illusion that you are in Ancient Greece. Staring over a valley below Athens, you can see huge armies, burning cities and Ares in the middle of it all. The scope of the game is certainly impressive. Kratos himself has a really cool look, with the pale skin and red tattoo's. The rest of the creatures are animated with great detail, but the environments are the real star of the game. The music is as every bit as good as the graphics. The music is very cultural, so you won't be hearing any rock or techno. The music is usually a thundering drum solo, which just feels awesome when you're dueling your foes on a cliffside thousands of feet in the air. It also has a subdued side, like when Kratos makes his way through Athens after having killed most of the invaders. The voice acting is also quite good, and Kratos' voice really stands out.
There really isn't much replay here. You can unlock a few different things, but not enough to really warrant playing the game through again. You can't save your character's stats at the end of the game, so you won't be able to continue on to harder difficulties. As fun as this game, I would really recommend renting it, especially if you consider yourself to be an action aficionado. I've been playing DMC3 for the better part of a month, and I blazed through this game in only a few hours. It's not overly challenging, but it does offer a fun experience, a very cool story with stunning graphics. Please keep in mind that this is not a bad game, it's actually quite good. Perhaps it was the hype that did this one in. God of War just can't compete with the other action games out there. It's just too simple. But if you want a fun experience for a couple of hours, give this one a rent. I guarantee you'll have a good time.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 03/28/05
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