God of War PS2 Review

“The gods of Olympus have abandoned me, now there is no hope” and so within the first minute of the game we see Kratos, the main character and ultimate anti-hero, cast himself off a cliff down to the rocks below. A very dramatic opening to a very dramatic game. God of War has a story that unfolds like a Greek myth, we are given a protagonist (Kratos) who on the surface seems rather two dimensional but by observing him through the trials placed before him we come to see a deep character that you genuinely end up caring about. This however does not stop the game from being one of the most visually impressive displays of pain and gore this side of Devil May Cry.

This being one of Sony’s biggest titles of the year can it square up to the likes of Resident Evil 4, Half-life 2 and Shadow of The Colossus? Read on and find out!

Graphics

God of War pushes the PS2 to its limits; from the opening scene to the closing battle every second looks as visually impressive as the previous. With no noticeable dips in frame rate it’s as smooth as it is sweet. The backgrounds are visually stunning and always have something interesting going on, not only a good display of the games graphical capabilities but it also aids the immersion of the player. A good example of this would be in Athens, whilst Kratos is jumping from platform to platform you can see guards fighting legions of the undead. Another effective trick happens only a few times in the game but leaves you breathless each time is when you can be simply running across a bridge and the camera will pan out until Kratos is a meagre dot on the screen, really emphasising the scale of things he has to overcome.

The character models are all superbly constructed, Kratos looks as sinister and evil as the demons he lays waste to. This is all tied together with a myriad of stunning special effects that are simply jaw dropping. The Blades of Chaos (the weapons that Kratos wields for the majority of the game) will dazzle you as they twist and turn in a fiery display of orgasmic proportions. You also can’t help but love the more subtle effects such as collecting red or green orbs or how the blood sprays from your hapless victims.

Gameplay

This is where God of War really stands out as a prime example of genre conversion, not only does it incorporate an extremely easy to use multi-layered combat system that can lead to 200 hit combo’s (not as impossible as you’d think), it also incorporates death defying platform sections a la Prince of Persia and Simon says movie sequences that allow you to see what Kratos is really capable of and still be involved (think Fahrenheit or Resident Evil 4). All of these aspects are performed as if God of War invented them it all flows naturally and simply put, feels natural. God of War also features a pseudo RPG levelling up system whereby you collect red orbs from your fallen foes and can choose what particular move to level up next, you will have to plan ahead and think about what moves you prefer to use against certain enemies for this to be truly effective. Using the red orbs on the blades of chaos will result in more available moves to chain together for lengthy dazzling combos whereas spending them on magic items will usually power up that item to a higher level of damage with a greater range. Very useful when in a tight spot and you manage to level up an item that can save your hide to fight another day. Another key feature worth noting is Rage of The Gods it is essentially your “get mad and kill anything that moves” mode, this therefore makes you stronger, faster and changes your move set to a much wider range, again very good for tight situations. Occasionally the gameplay can feel rather samey but the designers have seen to it that you don’t get bored due to another hoard of undead legionnaires.

Sound

Excellent music that truly sets the mood, instrumental and operatic yet not out of place at any time, in fact I would say that it is more appropriate than the heavy rock music a lot of games choose to use that just becomes irritating (PoP: Warrior Within anyone?). Kratos is voiced superbly however the Gods on occasion can sound a little overacted but not enough to be off-putting.

Lifespan

God of War knows how to reward its players, playing through the game will unlock certain treasures but not all of them, the game is cunning in that it shows you the extras you can unlock with a brief explanation. This is enough to peak the players interest and being the curious beings we are, were willing to sit and play through the other modes, unfortunately there is not much difference in the game to keep most players interest, the only difference is the extra difficulty in combat. But for those willing to sit through and play again you will receive great extras such as early designs, character graveyards and even a message from the creators and indications to the next games. Unfortunately, no level select for those who would like to replay certain sections.

Conclusion

If you have a PS2 and are old enough to play it, then you need this game, the action is superb and backed up by a rich engrossing story, smooth controls gorgeous environments portrayed with the best graphics seen on a PS2 to date. With great replay value and a wealth of extras to tie the bow on the perfect package this is definitely a contender for the highly sought after game of the year award.

9.5 out of 10

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