Review by KleenexTissue50
"Not a perfect action game, but still a head above the rest."
The God of War franchise is one of the bigger, if not the biggest new series to come out of the last generation of consoles. Appealing to casual gamers with its easy-to-learn gameplay it quickly became a household name (ok, not quite, but it certainly has more than a fair share of recognition). God of War 2 is, not surprisingly, the sequel to the original God of War improving on a number of complaints people had about the original game, as well as adding more content to try and spice things up.
God of War 2 picks up right where the original game left off. Kratos, the main character, had slain Ares and taken his spot as the God of War. Not happy with Kratos's general attitude, the gods namely Zeus betray Kratos and take away his newfound godly powers. The game follows Kratos on a quest to meet with the Sister of Fate in order to exact revenge on Zeus for his betrayal. That's about all there is to the story; nothing that takes place along the way really twists or turns the plot on its head, and you pretty much know where the game is going to end up right from the get-go. Not to say that this is bad thing, because God of War isn't really about the story at all. It's just there to move you from one place to the other in order to focus on the game's combat, which is where the meat of the game lies.
The combat system in GoW2 is pretty much what you'd expect. You have one button for weak attacks, one button for stronger attacks and you can combo the two together to make Kratos flip out and kill things. At it's core, that's really all there it to it. I'm hesitant to call the game a button masher, because it's not quite down to that level (definitely not the boss fights, but more on that later). Kratos starts out with Athena's Blades and over the course of the game acquires two more, but those prove to be fairly useless and you'll find yourself sticking to your main weapon most of the time. In addition, Kratos will fine 4 different magic spells' (they're not all really spells) to use in conjunction with his main weapon. Some are more useful than others you won't use the Medusa head ever again after the first time you get it but at least you'll find yourself using them more than your sub-weapons. There are also a few other techniques you'll come across along the way, like the ability to slow down time for a short period, and the Rage of the Titans, which throws Kratos in a rage (shocker!) that increases all his abilities while the meter lasts. The combat system is pretty well done, and even though it can be daunting at times (when you start up the game, there's a lot of controls to learn), but you'll find yourself adapting pretty quickly and it won't be long before you're pulling off all kinds of crazy combos.
One big new addition here is the inclusion of periodic boss fights against often-huge beasts that Kratos comes across. These fights are a nice change of pace because they require some strategy to fight, rather than just hacking away. The strategy is usually never more than recognizing some sort of pattern and following it until you can get some solid hits in on the boss, but it makes it more interesting than just fighting random grunts all the time. Ever boss fight it topped off with an excessively gruesome cut scene in which Kratos mangles and hacks away at the boss usually to a series of button prompts from you. Sure it's over the top and sometimes borderline ridiculous, but damned if it doesn't look cool.
On the technical side of things, God of War for the most part excels. The graphics are top notch and really take full use of the PS2's system specs. There are times where things got a tad chuggy, but those instances were rare and it never affected the game to any detrimental extent. The soundtrack it a lot more atmospheric than it is melodic, but in a game like God of War that not only works but is preferred. Granted, you probably won't remember anything you hear over the course of the game except for the main theme but that doesn't really detract from the game, and what is there fits the atmosphere well.
God of War 2 doesn't have a lot of flaws, but it's not a perfect game either. The combat has the tendency to get a tad repetitive after a while, especially because you're pretty much just hacking away at random enemies without thinking about it all that much. The monotony gets broken up with a puzzle every now and then, but those are very hit-and-miss. Don't expect any Zelda-type dungeons here. A fair amount of the puzzles are rather unintuitive and the solutions won't always make sense. It's not quite so bad towards the end of the game, but you'll find yourself at a few that just aren't very fun to solve. The other problem is a matter of frustration with some of the enemies. God of War 2 isn't a hard game per se, but some of the normal enemies are overly frustrating and a pain to kill. Pretty much anything that can freeze you in place is a culprit of this, like Medusas and Sirens. You can't block the attacks, and they usually come in groups of 3 or so. This means that while you're trying to finish off one, the other two are at your back, freezing you in place, taking pot shots at you. In the case of the Medusa, they can actually kill you in one shot if you're not careful. Thankfully these guys don't show up too frequently, but when they do it's an annoyance.
As far as replay value goes, GoW2 will takes you just about as far as you want to go with it. The main game will take you about 10-15 hours to complete, but you've also got 4 different difficulties to try out if you're so inclined, as well as a boss rush mode and a few other random goodies you'll unlock as you play through the game. You can even play with Kratos in a fish suit, which the game calls Cod of War. You can't make stuff like that up. If you're willing to go the distance, GoW2 will keep you playing for a while.
God of War 2 is the kind of game that most people should be able to enjoy and the kind of game that most people are usually curious to play. Hardcore gamers will shun it because its not as techy as other games from the genre like Devil May Cry or Ninja Gaiden, but that's not really who the game was made for. It's a little over the top and a little silly at times, but aside from a few frustrating points, it's a fun ride, and after the cliffhanger ending (why do all games seem to do that these days?), it'll leave you anxious for the next game in the series.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 02/06/08
Game Release: God of War II (US, 03/13/07)
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