Review by JakylReborn
"Frailty, thy name is definitely not Kratos."
Yes, I know. I just used a Shakespeare reference for a game that was set long before the man ever lived. But the point remains; it's almost as hard to find a weakness in this game as it is to find one in its main character (Kratos). Everything from the graphics to the gameplay was relatively close to perfect. There were, as is the case with all video games, drawbacks, but what God of War has to offer far more than compensates for these.
To begin with, the story of God of War was engaging enough that it didn't lend rise to boredom. Personally, I can think of few more creative ways to begin a game than by having the main character hurl himself from the tallest mountain in Greece. Speaking of Greece, God of War (as if the title alone wasn't indicative enough of this) is set in Greek mythology. The mythology in the game isn't always exactly accurate, but that is to be expected when the protagonist has an objective such as Kratos's. I'm not going to go into too much detail as to what this objective is, but I'll give you a small hint: think of the game's title.
As far as the characters are concerned, there's really only a few that get a significant amount of speaking time. Ares, the god of war, was depicted in an interesting manner, as were the other gods you meet during your quest. There's an oracle and an old man in the game, but despite their actual significance in facilitating the completion of Kratos's quest, their roles are rather downplayed. Kratos -- now there's an interesting fellow... Never in my life have I seen a character (the "good guy," no less) be such a brute. Not only does he appear to care about nobody but himself, but he also seems to try to kill his enemies in the goriest ways possible. For example, if you kill a minotaur in a certain way, you end up watching Kratos stab him in the face and...twist his blade.
Kratos's personality rendered this game the single goriest, most violent game I've ever witnessed. Although this doesn't detract from the game, per se, it doesn't really add much to it. The blood is often times so over-the-top that players can lose sight of the rest of the game. More so, God of War is not for the faint of heart. If you can't stand gore, or your morals prevent you from doing such things as *cough* ignoring the pleas of a human you've decided to sacrifice, then you most likely won't end up focusing on the positive aspects of this game. In short, if you are the aforementioned person, stay as far away from God of War as you possibly can. If not, revel in the bloodshed and enjoy the game.
Of course, the sheer amount of blood and gore in this game wouldn't mean much if it was poorly displayed. The graphics of God of War, thankfully for the gravity of the violence, were most excellent. The in-game graphics were surprisingly clear, and the cinematic sequences were possibly the best I've seen in a video game. As a result, the intense work that was done on the environment did not, by any means, go to waste. From the Aegean Sea to the city of Athens, Kratos's surroundings were extremely detailed. For the majority of God of War, the environments created a very gloomy atmosphere of despair, which coupled with Kratos's personality, gave rise to a rather dark, if not Stygian gaming experience.
There were patches of brightness in God of War, even though they are ironically found in the very weapons Kratos uses to accomplish his destructive ends. What I'm referring to are the Blades of Chaos -- Kratos's sole initial weapon. By pushing square (the attack button), you not only defeat your enemies, but you also create a spectacular fiery light show. Basically, Kratos's moves look good. Damn good. They were also very entertaining to perform as an innovative "rack up your own combos" system was implemented. In God of War, apart from the basic attack combinations that already exist in the game, the player is able to create his own combos, often times exceeding 500 hits. As a result, God of War is a very fun, for lack of a better term, game to play.
The boss fights were also extremely captivating. Rather than simply pummeling away at the Hydra, you can push circle and engage it in a mini-game where you push the buttons as they appear and screen and watch Kratos pull off some pretty fancy moves. Different mini-games, such as ones where you move the joystick in a certain way or repeatedly push circle as fast as you can, can be engaged when combating different enemies. This allows the fighting in the game to be very diverse and wholly entertaining. At the same time, however, there are only so many times one can watch the ripping off of the wings of a harpy before becoming bored. Luckily enough, there are enough different types of enemies that you can move on from harpy de-winging to cyclops eye-gouging to keep yourself entertained.
Sound and camera angles can ruin a game if they aren't done correctly. Fortunately, this is not the case with God of War. The camera angles, although I had a little less control over them than I would personally have liked, were done well enough that I never found myself annoyed due to the lack of visibility. I would have liked the ability to look around in first-person so that I could better view the scenery, but to quote something David Jaffe likes to say, "maybe next time." The soundtrack was actually quite moving. A few of the pieces were a little bit on the dull side, but you can't expect epic scores to be constantly playing.
All in all, the game does have a few minor flaws. Apart from those, however, God of War is simply brilliant. It's brilliance more than compensates for its inequities. The story was engaging, the gameplay was riveting, the graphics were astonishing, and everything else fell nicely into place.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 04/06/05
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