Easily the most anxiously awaited PS2 for this year, God of War 2 exploded all expectations and takes the PS2 as far as it can go. In what is probably the last truly GREAT game of a truly great system, God of War brings an ass-kicking adventure whose only disappointment is that it has to end.
Playing as Kratos, a former general of the Spartan Army-who, in the first game had fought and defeated Ares to become the God of War-is betrayed by Zeus and is forced to work his way back to power so that he may fight and destroy the King of the Gods. Armed with the Blades of Athena, which are blades on the ends of chains that Kratos uses with great skill to destroy the enemies around him. As well, the blades are used to help scale up walls and swing from special hook points. Throughout the game, Kratos faces a slew of various enemies, many of whom will, near defeat, offer up a button prompt for Kratos to execute his execution moves. Control Kratos as he drives giant swords through the abdomens of his opponents, viciously beheads lumbering foes, cuts the wings off of gryphons or tears the eye out of a Cyclops' head.
The game starts out fast with an epic battle against the Colossus of Rhodes, this is no ordinary "get your feet wet" level; it's for real. Using a ballista to launch himself into the Colossus to crushing his arms in giant waterwheels, Kratos fights viciously, and that is only the first part of the battle! After Zeus betrays Kratos his epic journey for vengeance begins with Kratos going on to a myriad of interesting places, from the bottom of the earth with Atlas, to the giant horse monuments built by Cronos to the Temples of the Fates.
Featuring a wide array of cameos from the Greek mythological world, anyone familiar with the stories will recognize a slew of characters, many of who donate important relics to Kratos' journey. Among these, Gaia helps Kratos escape from Hades to begin his quest to destroy Zeus, (an outcome she also desires) and Prometheus grants the Rage of the Titans that increases the strength and power of Kratos and his attacks. Along the rest of his way Kratos will be attacked and forced to defeat waves upon waves of undead, skeletons, wraiths, harpies, nymphs, minotaurs, Gorgons, Cerberus hounds, sirens, satyrs and juggernauts amongst others.
Everyone defeated by Kratos drop red orbs that are automatically collected for you. These orbs are used to upgrade the weapons that you wield, including the Barbarian Hammer, the Spear of Destiny and the Blade of Olympus. Kratos' magic can also be upgraded and includes Typhon's Bane (a long-range arrow attack), Cronos' Rage (an electric attack useful against multiple targets) and Atlas' Quake (a ground pounding attack.)
Graphically the game takes the PS2 right up to its limits, with gorgeous, gigantic levels with loads of detail. Even though the game is not produced for an HD system, the creators added in an option to increase the quality of the graphics to a progressive scan and it does indeed look phenomenal on an HD screen even if it isn't a true HD game. One of the best features of the game is the camera focus; the game leads you along in the game, and if you get disorientated or lost the angle of the screen will guide you along the direction you are supposed to go. Unfortunately, there is no controlling the camera at all, which can lead to some frustration and decreased visibility in certain sections. However, if something is being obscured it is most likely for a reason.
The key to God of War and the reason why it is such an awesome game is that it is not just a button-mashing fighting affair, instead every section is littered with puzzles that require mental agility to solve them. The puzzles vary in difficulty but are what make the game worthwhile. The game does a good job of helping you along the way as well, for example, breakable walls have a slight glint to them, video cut-scenes upon entering a location give you clues as to how to beat a section. Further the cut-scenes are simply gorgeous, the detail and quality of each scene adds so much more to the game by creating a world that feels real and important.
Aurally the game is perfectly fine; in fact this is probably the weakest point in the game. That said, it is in no way a hindrance to the game nor unhelpful, it is merely the only part of the game that is not absolutely overwhelming cool. There are some top name voice talents in the game including Linda Hunt (trust us, you'll recognize her voice,) though the best being a cameo from Michael Clarke Duncan as Atlas. The in-game audio gets to be a little repetitive but is certainly passable.
With plenty of bonus levels available after beating the game, God of War 2 has plenty of replay ability as the chance to go through on different skill levels is absolutely worth it. God of War is so good there are levels where it is almost just as much fun to purposefully die in order for the change to redo an entire section.
God of War 2 is a truly great way to send off the PS2, a simply amazingly fun, well-designed, well drawn, well thought out game that stands up extremely well against any of the latest games on the next-gen systems. Playing God of War 2 is only bad because you will not want to stop, Kratos will enter your brain and never let go. Every aspect of the game is almost flawless. Flat out, God of War 2 is one of the greatest PS2 games of all time and one of the best games in the last 10 years, if Sony manages to keep God of War as an exclusive it has all the power to become a system seller all on its own. Long live Kratos!
Learning Curve: approximately 10-15 minutes
God of War 2 is available exclusively for the Playstation 2