Review by skygto

Reviewed: 03/29/05

A grand epic adventure that will blow me away? Not quite, I only felt a nice breeze.

This is my first review so bare with me. You might notice that I gave it a 7, this is my personal opinion and does not reflect the quality of the game. As a reviewer my final score is based on the satisfaction of the product I bought, so even if every category of the game is executed near flawlessly, it can still dip downwards if I wasn’t satisfied with it overall. God of War is that such product. Such a fun game that, to me, didn’t live up to the hype that surrounded it. A grand epic adventure that will blow me away? Not quite, I only felt a nice breeze.

STORY 8/10
Kratos, a Spartan warrior that is haunted by his past doings has set out to destroy his former mentor, Ares, the God of War. Nothing groundbreaking about the story, pretty cliche “student exacting revenge on former master” sorta story. But I’ll be damned, the way the story is told is pure bliss. The opening cinema is also the ending cinema, so you get a glimpse of the ending but not told what happens, that right there is enough to spark a temple full of interest. Why is he on the cliff, why is he about to jump and kill himself, what did he mean by the Gods abandoning him? That’s like me letting you take a bite out of the worlds best tasting chocolate than snapping it away and making you find out how it was created first. Little bit’s of the story is revealed to you as you progress along the game until all the pieces have fit together to bring you to it’s final conclusion. Great execution, but a story about revenge that has been done to death. And after you beat Spartan mode and watched the two movies about Kratos’ past, you soon begin to wonder if everyone in Greek is out to get revenge on someone else.

This game deserves the name, God of War. Visually the combat is spectacular, it’s a very bloody and violent game. Decapitation, limbs flying everywhere, impalement of many different parts of the body, and you have full control over this. Every time you whittle an enemies health down to a low, a Circle icon appears over their head. Pressing Circle will initiate either a Circle button mashing game or a Simon-Says mini-game. When done correctly Kratos will perform a kill move that rivals Mortal Kombat’s fatalities. “Before you die, you see the ring” oh so true, so very true. I have changed the name of the Circle button to the “Ring of Impending Doom” button.

The fighting system is very simple so you don’t have to worry about writing up a database spreadsheet on all possible combos and their damage. It is not as deep as Devil May Cry 3, in fact if fighting engines where bodies of water DMC3 would be the Pacific Ocean and God of War would be you grandma’s inflatable pool. Ok maybe not to that extremity but you get the picture. But simple is good, very good for this game. Kratos is pissed off and is out to kick ass, he cares not for complex combos or well timed juggles, the only complexity is how to get his blades into the flesh of his victims in a way that will cause the most blood to spill out.

The best aspect of the game has to be the boss fights. God of War’s boss fight, yes all three of them, is as fun as watching fifty midgets drop kick a sumo wrestler. Each one has their own little flavor and tactics but all boils down to one concept: Drop the shield than pummel the beast to oblivion. Once again God of War adds it’s own special flavor to these boss fights in the form of the “Ring of Impending Doom”. Gameplay wise it’s just another mini-game that is required to kill a boss, but when you watch as Kratos struggle with large multi story beasts you’ll see that such a simple tool can create an epic battle. Instead of just slashing your weapon at a monster until it’s invisible health bar is depleted, Kratos actually gets up right in the face of these monsters and slaughters them. It makes you like your actually battling them and not just playing whack the mole until it’s green bar is gone.

What would an adventure game be without puzzles and this game is chalked full of them. None of them will make you rip out your hair in frustration, but none of them will make you think very hard either. The puzzle seems very laid out and only a minor distraction to the more important part of the game, the happy fun killing of Greek monsters.

Control 10/10
Simple, simple, simple. Your spells are mapped the four directional buttons and pressing L2 will use that selected spell. Blocking is on the easy to access L1 button and dodging is performed by flicking the Right Analog Stick in the direction you want. You have a fast normal attack and a slow strong attack, both can be chained together fluidly. Grabs are mapped to the “Ring of Impending Doom” button, and the jumping is performed with X. The controls feel like second nature after a few minutes of playing, and soon you’ll be hacking and slashing like the God of War himself.

Graphics 10/10
Somewhere up in heaven Zeus is smiling down on us, God of War is doing ancient Greece great justice. This game is just beautiful, and not just “I want to bang her” beautiful but “I want to bang her on camera so I can show it off to people and make them jealous” beautiful. The enemies’ look and feel like the way they fight and even though throughout the game some enemies become “upgraded” they’re not just simple palette swaps but a full fleshed model. The blood looks very good, kind of flowy, but a lot better than both Mortal Kombat games for the PS2. The detailed backgrounds are simply amazing. Seeing Ares towering over the burning city of Athens as you run by fighting undead soldier is one of the highlights of this game. I wholeheartedly believe the developers when they say they are pushing the PS2’s capabilities to the max. My only complaint, Ares doesn’t look like a God of War, more like God of the Pant Less Armor Wearing Lumberjacks.

Sound 9/10
The music is great to hear but forgettable, however they really set the mood and tone of each stage/fight/boss and create a heart pumping effect. The SFX are really something to hear. Grunts, cranks, blood spurting, monsters attacking, you know exactly what is going on just by listening to the noise, I can play this game blindfolded if wanted to and still know what I’m doing.

Replayabilitiy 6/10
To unlock everything you have to play through it at least twice, once on Spartan (Hard) and once on God. This game is easy enough to start on Spartan anyways. You have basically DVD bonus unlockables, a “Making of”, some deleted stuff, small movies that tell a small back-story about Kratos and leaves room for a sequel. The extra costumes can be unlocked by beating Challenge of the Gods, a short side-game, and that is unlocked by beating Spartan.
No one can argue that this is a short game. First time through on Spartan mode I beat it in under 8 hours, add in an hour or two for retries. Not a very “epic” adventure lengthwise and besides the unlockables there’s not much that’s motivating you to come back, maybe to see Kratos dress up, but that’s only a cosmetic appeal.

Final Score 7 (Opinionated, not an average)
A great game that is marred by a few flaws and a crippling low replay value. I enjoyed the game my first time through but was completely disappointed to find I had finished it 10 hours later. The unlockables are great but they’re not a good motivation to replay the game. Sure I can go back and replay the game and enjoy it’s viciously great gameplay, but even that gets stale. The story was good, but not something that will, 2 years from now, make me say “Hmm that was great, I think I’ll go back and play it again.” In my opinion the thing about the story that just kills it is the final battle. You’re suppose to be fighting a God but it just feels like a dry turkey sandwich when compared to the rest of the game’s feast. If Ares is the God of War I can see how people stop believing in him and moved on to Jesus.

Rent or Buy
A tough choice indeed. It has a rental length so if you usually only play through a game once than rent God of War, it'll save you money. You can unlock everything in the 5 day period. But this game IS fun so I'm going to say BUY, just not worth $50, maybe when it becomes a Greatest Hit. Short, but sweet.

Rating:   3.5 - Good

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