God of War is simply an action-adventure game that every PlayStation 2 owner should have.
God of War is pretty unique as there are not that many companies willing to make a game with a similar quality. It has a dense plot that revolves around Greek mythology, a story of vengeance, tragedy and violence. Besides that, the game integrates challenging puzzles, a surprising combat and an epic adventure all in the same package. God of War blends in these features perfectly, balancing them out in just the right way.
The game follows the story of Kratos, a warrior in the service of the gods of Olympus. The introduction shows the main character as he is trying to commit suicide. As he states that the gods have abandoned him, Kratos throws himself off from the highest mountain of Greece. The narrator goes on to explain some details about his tragic life and what is driving him to do such an impulsive thing. Flashbacks are a recurrent element that the developers of the game use to tell the story. The first one takes us three weeks before to a destroyed ship in the Aegean Sea, where the character is fighting dozens of undead warriors and an immense Hydra. The introduction sets the tone for the rest of the adventure and it gives you a clear impression of what Kratos is like, a brutal, soulless and mean-spirited warrior. Even when he is an anti-hero, you’ll feel sympathy for him as he has suffered a lot and the only thing he wants is to forget the past and move on with his life.
Kratos’ main objective is to stop Ares (the god of war) from destroying Athens. To kill Ares, he needs a mythical weapon known as Pandora’s Box, the most powerful weapon in the world that even gods are terrified to use. As the story goes on you’ll learn many more details about Kratos’ life and his troubled past. He was one of the most respected warriors, but eventually he asked Ares for help. These details are given through more flashbacks, which create a particular effect as at the beginning of the story you know nothing about Kratos, but by the end of the game you’ll know everything there is to know about him.
As one of the most respected warriors in Greece Kratos uses a variety of weapons, the default ones are the Blades of Chaos, a pair of axelike blades united by chains. Each of these axes is wrapped around Kratos’ arms and with these you can perform many powerful attacks and maneuvers. But what’s most interesting is that the game incorporates some RPG elements, so every time you kill an enemy you’ll earn some red orbs, which you can use these to get new combos or improve your weapons. Though there are a variety of combos, most of them are really easy to pull of, even the most over-the-top ones. Overall, the combat system is pretty rewarding and satisfying. As you progress, the gods of Olympus will give you more powers and weapons to aid you on your quest against Ares. So basically, each God you encounter represents a new weapon you unlock. The most interesting thing to do is combine magic with weapons to improve your attacks and this adds even more variety to the game.
Additionally, God of War has four different difficulty levels and the default one is pretty forgiving, though the variety of enemies and challenging puzzles keep things interesting at all times. Most enemies are based on creatures from Greek mythology like Cyclops, minotaurs, undead warriors, gorgons, harpies, wraiths, sirens, centaurs and so on. Even the weakest enemies can be considered a threat when they come in groups as they’ll try to surround you attacking quickly. While most of the regular enemies can be beaten with normal attacks and combos, larger foes can easily be defeated through quick time events. Once you wear down one of these monsters a special icon will appear on his head. If you hit the button at the right time you’ll be engaged in a minigame which rewards you considering your timing and accuracy. Every time a new icon appears onscreen you have a limited amount of time to press it. At the same time and while you do that, Kratos struggles with the beast simulating the fight. There are many quick time events and most of them are awesome, though some take some time to master as you need to memorize the enemy’s attack pattern. These fights can be so engaging that you feel a unique sense of immersion, as instead of watching a cutscene the game lets you be a part of it.
Then we have the boss fights. What’s most interesting about them is that every one is unique and each one requires you to carefully think of different ways to defeat it. Even when there are only a few all of them are challenging and endearing and defeating a boss is highly satisfying.
Also, the game includes numerous puzzles for you to solve. These include traps or old artifacts proper of the Greek mythology. Though each puzzle is different to the other one, they require you to pull levers, push buttons or turn cranks. The one that really stands out is the puzzle in Pandora’s temple that actually allows you to rotate the room letting you reach new doors and chambers.
Even though the adventure is really intense there are some reasons to go back once you finished it. There are a few unlockable extras and bonus items like new suits, the extremely hard “God mode”, behind-the-scenes videos and deleted levels. On your first playthrough the game should take you between 10 and 15 hours to beat and considering the unlockable items you may get the second time you play it, the package has a great value.
The story along with the tone of the game creates a unique atmosphere that mixes elements from Greek mythology, horror, action and adventure. The monsters are horrifying and are pretty distinctive. Most of the creatures and characters have distinct personality and are quite original. But some people can be offended by its content. For example one of the puzzles requires you to place a cages soldier at an altar to sacrifice him while he begs for mercy. So God of War is not for everybody, its dark humor and morbid tone makes this a game that only some people can enjoy, while many others can consider it very, very offensive. Furthermore, the game is really gory, violent and has sexual content all the way. At a specific point in the adventure you’ll be engaged in a minigame with two ladies, and even when you don’t actually see what happens on camera, the moaning and the bumping jar on the table are enough to understand the situation, this is not exactly offensive but it feels kind of out of place. Besides that you’ll see many bare-breasted women during the adventure.
God of War will take you many fantastic places and even when most of the levels can be quite linear you’ll have many opportunities of exploration and you’ll find some hidden secrets items like extra health and magic. The different, levels, places and sceneries look really impressive and this is done by the fantastic use of the camera. This is one of the best design cameras to ever be featured in a video game, it’s never intrusive or awkward and its use is surprising.
Graphically, God of War is simply superb. Everything in the cities is animated, providing the different places with a lifelike quality. Kratos moves really fluidly even when he’s performing numerous combos one after the other. The transitions are done seamlessly and look realistic. There are a few loading times which you’ll barely notice, but for some reason the game is likely to have some issues with frame rate, which drops at certain points in the game.
Soundwise, the game is unmatched. Technically is probably one the games with the best sound on the PS2, it mixes music very reminiscent of Greece with choirs. The music is placed contextually so it’s always very fitting. The voice acting is very good too. Kratos and the narrator stand out from the rest, but the other characters sound very well too. All the other sound effects couldn’t be better.
In conclusion, God of War is one of the best productions to be released for a console in the last years. The gameplay is great and fun, the presentation is amazing, many extras were included, the graphics are awesome and the sound is near perfection. Everyone who is looking for an adult experience that features both action and adventure on the same package look no further. God of War is your game.