Review by wolverinefan

Reviewed: 03/15/06

An epic journey with a few flaws holding it back from perfection

God of War is a year old now and I just got around to picking it up and playing it. Why did it take me this long to play the game that everyone talked about? I have no idea, it may be a price thing but I did go on a few vacations last year which required my extra cash so that might be a reason. But anyway, I've not played the game that people are calling the game of the year for 2005. Is it far from the truth? Well, maybe but it's always up to the individual.

The game starts off with Kratos screaming to the heavens "Why have the gods forsaken me" and he leaps to his death. It then cuts back to 3 weeks early. The god of war, Aries, is destroying the city. Kratos is seeking revenge and does not care who he kills to get it. Why is he seeking revenge? Why do we care? Well, I won't say because the game truly unfolds its plot layer by layer. It feeds you bits and pieces until it all makes sense. It's very nicely done.

At first glance I wasn't overly impressed with the graphics but as I got further into the game I became very interested in the detail that each location had. Vases, pots, stones it litters the floors, ground, dirt and whatever. While some textures are lifeless others are mind blowing. Entering the building after the one woman and coming into that room with the reflective flooring is almost awe inspiring. Character models are decent but the most detail has gone into the bosses and Kratos himself. I did find that whenever you see an enemy in CGI he looks way cooler than his in game model which just doesn't give justice to the art design of the enemies. Levels are large and pretty much don't load. A few instances the game paused to load, with a nice little loading message in the corner, to make sure you didn't think the game froze on you.

The sound in this game is flat out amazing. Voice acting is top notch; I had no beefs with any of it. No one sounded bad, or delivered a line flat or anything. Sound effects are top notch. Clashes of metal, ground breaking, splashes of water, waterfalls it all sounds good. As for the music well... My game came with something I'm sure all of the others came with; an offer for the soundtrack to be downloaded freely off of a Sony site. My code didn't work for some reason but Sony is sending me an actual CD so I'm happy about that. Anyway, the music is just amazing and I can't wait to own the soundtrack. Nice choral pieces ect. It fit the mood of the game perfectly.

I had a few problems with the control in the game but it wasn't the games fault. I had one controller die on me as I was nearing the end. It was expected as some of the buttons weren't responding 100% of the time. Then my back of controller has a slightly loose analog stick so it gave me some problems as well in the later more platform heavy moments of the game. Anyway, the fighting is so insanely easy that a two year old could pick this up and play but I'll cover that more in the game play part of this review. Jumping was okay but kind of hard at times due to the static camera (the camera follows you or stays in one spot; it is not moveable and causes some problems during some puzzles. I found that the swimming controls were very poor; perhaps this was due to the fact that the camera doesn't move. Underwater dashing mixed with puzzle was just a bad time for me. Everything else control wise was perfectly fine.

Ah, game play. The thing that makes or breaks a game. Well, I'll start this with the obvious. The game play works and it's done nicely but it does have a few minor flaws that keep the game from perfection. The basic idea of the fighting engine is that Kratos has two blades that are attached to chains and he swings them around doing damage. You have the quick attack and then the heavy attack. What I loved is how fluid it all is and while it's easy and is nothing but a button masher at its core, the game does force you to rethink your fighting when you encounter new enemies. There is a plethora of combos at your disposal and I found myself using a number of them. They are quick and easy to pull. Also, there are button prompt moments for quicker kills that may reward with magic or life which is always good. You also have magic to use. The D-pad selects which spell and you usually hit L2 + square to use a spell. There are four spells and they all do different things and can be used for different situations. The lighting one will be used the most.

Enemies have no problem with attacking you in groups of 5. They will attack from all sides but let me warn you early on it's easy enough but be careful with those dogs because they destroyed me rather quickly because I didn't know what they were capable of. I found the enemy variety to be good until the final areas of the game where they do the whole color coding thing which just doesn't fit with the theme of the game. Now enemies and chests contain orbs. Red is collected and used to level up your weapons and your spells. Green refills your life and blue refills your magic. Very simple. Some chests let you pick between the two.

Now the game is kind of split up into areas but it all follows a path of sorts. It's a huge world and if you've played the new Prince of Persia games then you get what I'm talking about. To be honest this game took a few things from the Persia series. It's not noticeable at first but the later areas have very Persia-esq puzzles and traps going on. It changes the mood a little in the game as well and it's a welcome change from the fighting. Some of the puzzles are easy but again some can cause problems. I found the time based ones where you need to kick things gave me the most problems. Also, the giant spires neat the end were a total nightmare for me. However, if you have played the Persia game you will find these puzzles rather lacking. Most require balance and quick reflexes instead of thinking fast on your feet and while that doesn't distract from the game or take anything away from it. Puzzles in the later half were just annoying for me as paths started to branch and I kept going the wrong ways.

Games have changed in the past few years. Where games use to have a lot of bosses, God of War keeps to the new idea of bigger and fewer is a better idea. The game features 3 total bosses. The first is just amazing while the other 2 kind of let me down as they didn't require as much thought as the first one. The button prompt thing is used a lot when it comes to the bosses but the final boss doesn't really have it as much as the first two.

The replay value is a bit low in God of War. The game took me just over 5 hours to beat. The average time seems to be 7 hours. Once you beat the game you unlock a challenge mode which isn't overly long. You also unlock new making of stuff, behind the scenes stuff and what not. You also unlock god mode which is the hardest setting and by beating it on that setting you unlock the final things in the game. It's a decent amount of replay value but it could have been a bit longer.

So, you might be wondering what kept this game from perfection for me. Well, the swimming moments in the game were a true nightmare as the dash was a bit tough to pull off as it's harder to tell when it's charged than when the kick is. Also, length plays a factor in it and the fact that the middle of the game takes place inside something and about three fourths of the way through it you want out so you can see the world. I really enjoyed the outside moments more than the indoor as those felt more unoriginal. Also, some of the puzzles are just there, no real clues on how to get past certain things. You get use to it later on though.

Should you rent or buy this game? Well, it's now a Greatest Hits title and can be found for $20 at the highest but if you now how to find deals $15 can be an average price for it. I got it used for a dirt cheap price. However, if you really don't replay your games or collect games then go ahead and rent this as it's rather easy to complete in the amount of time that you're allowed to keep rentals these days.

Story - 9/10
Graphics - 10/10
Sound - 10/10
Control - 8/10
Game Play - 9/10
Replay Value - 7/10

Final Score - 9/10

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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