PS2 REVIEW: GOD OF WAR

The Gods have spoken. God of War has been created and they saw that it was good. They have put a good word into Santa Claus for the developers so that they may expect some extra goodies for their hard work come next Holiday Season when we've all but forgotten about what it was they did.

God of War is a game that got it right. It's as though the developers have actually been reading our reviews here and decided to take some things that we typically criticize into consideration. The voiceacting is good, there is a deep story, the combat system is fun and relatively easy to use, the music is perfect and the graphics are staggering. What did we mere mortals do to deserve a game like this? No doubt the Gods felt sorry for all of the Varmint Hunter and Big Rigs: Offroad Racing games that we reviewers have had to endure over the years. Thanks boys, it's nice to know we're appreciated. Yes, we're in tight with the Gods. Where do you think we get our cheat codes from?

This is one of the best games that I've played in a while, and by that I mean every aspect of this game is great. I have so few complaints that they're not even worth mentioning. How often does that happen? The story alone would have made a great novel. Using ancient Greek mythology as a backdrop is not new to movies and comics but God of War makes it more accessible than ever. It really comes alive as you feel part of the world and not alienated by it. This is due to the fearlessness of the title character. His powers and mental predilection gives us not only unprecedented access to this world but the ability to challenge it. Never have we dared to be so bold in the faces of the Gods.

I don't want to scare potential players by mentioning role playing because even though it does exist in this game it enhances the action adventure experience rather than overshadowing it. All of the elements in this game, including platforming, puzzles and skill upgrades have been included in such a way that they feel natural to the overall experience.

Ares is one of the sons of Zeus. He's become very dangerous and unpredictable. His brothers fear that he's insane. Ares, with the help of his Earth-bound slave warrior, Kratos, help spread terror among the mortals. Zeus has prohibited the brothers from directly confronting each other. In an effort to stop Ares, the brothers will have to turn to the mortals for help. It turns out that Kratos is becoming disillusioned with his master and agrees to destroy him. Kratos is still an evil bastard and is not doing this for any good but for his own pleasure. The good Gods, having no recourse, try to help Kratos by upgrading his abilities and making resources available to him.

Kratos is like the Hulk on crack. He's evil and viscous and he's got the means to carry out his murderous activity. Through a series of cutscenes you will witness acts of senseless brutality that define your character's role in this game. It doesn't take long for you to assume or at least accept some of these characteristics. The content of this game is not intended for children. It displays scenes of nudity and violence on a scale that's literally off the scale.

Enemies are culled from ancient mythology. You'll encounter creatures such as centaurs, hydras, Cyclops, giant stone statues, armies of skeletons and winged flying beasts. Each enemy has different strengths and weaknesses. Your fighting style will vary from creature to creature, often in the middle of a combo since you will face numerous different enemies at the same time. Thankfully the combat system is flexible and responsive.

Basic moves include strong and medium attacks, grapple, dash and a modifier. You can also block and dodge. Weapons and magic are also very effective for eliminating enemies. You can expect to get lots of hits off of a single chain. You can change course in mid combo if you see a better opportunity. Sometimes there's nothing like a giant blade to slice through an enemy but you won't find it very effective against a thousand-foot-tall statue. To finish off the enemy you'll have to activate a rhythmic mini-game of sorts.

The attention to detail is incredible. All of the locations have an ancient "lived-in" look to them. The marble columns expose the scars of past battles while the rusted chains and manacles speak of man's inhumanity to man. Corpses litter mountain plateaus, majestic waterfalls wash away the lingering scent of evil while ancient cities burn to ash in the distance. All of this is just going on in the background.

The graphics should be seen on a high definition TV, but you'll be able to appreciate them on virtually any TV. With virtually no load times this game rivals some of the best Xbox games. The character models are excellent and really excel at instilling a sense of awe at the gargantuan proportions of some of the enemies and Gods. The score is original and although you will hear some main strains repeated, every scene has its own theme and incidental music. The voiceover work compliments an equally excellent storyline.

God of War came as an incredible surprise. I wasn't anticipating much, and even if I had, what is presented here would have blown me away anyway. May this game be with you.

Preview By Chris

Next year Sony will introduce a new adventure game that is sure to grab gamers' attentions. While there is nothing new about epic adventure games, the fact that the main character is already dead certainly is a twist. GOW will feature a young warrior named Kratos who has been possessed by Ares the God of War. He now has all the power of the fiercest warrior as well as the skills to make good use of these special powers.

If you are wondering how you will play as this mighty warrior if he is dead already, there is a simple explanation. In the opening scene you see Kratos as a distraught man who winds up committing suicide, a disturbing thought and yes the opening will be a bit unsettling to watch. However, after the scene is over, you wind up a few weeks back in time and will play through the game to see what leads him to his final fate. Few games show the ending as the starting point of a huge adventure game.

GOW will have a mythological theme to it and feature those creatures and gods you have read about in those great books on the subject. The game will be in the third-person perspective and so far the game is looking fantastic. The game will rely on the graphics to help bring the epic adventure to life. As neat as it may sound to have the powers of Ares at your finger tips, it seems young Kratos knows he must find a way to release the possessed spirit from his body before he suffers the same fate as the god Of Ares did. I won't go into a long history lesson on mythology. Let's just say as powerful as this god was his fate was not very pleasant. Kratos must use the powers he has to actually find the only way of releasing the spirit of the very God he needs to accomplish this feat. There is a legend of a box, a Pandora's box, if you wish to think of it as that. As the legend goes if one can pass the test to reach the box and open it, the spirit will be release from the person's body and trapped into the box for ever.

You do not need to know anything about Mythology to see the next part of the game. The box is well protected in a huge tower filled with traps and hard to reach places while being protected by some of the mightiest monsters in mythology history. Kratos will have to fight the creatures and the monsters as well as work his way down the path to even get a chance to open the box. You see, only one that has the entire powers mastered can open the box. Thanks to a new level system in the game Kratos will learn new abilities as he reaches each level. Then by practicing on the monsters and other things that await the young warrior, he will learn to control and master those powers.

The game is certainly something different than your normal adventure game. The graphics will bring the huge hydra (A Hydra is a 3 headed monster that lived in the ocean) to life complete with its entire heads to battle. GOW is certain to push the limits of the PS2 graphically. The sound will be just as stunning and will bring each part of this strange adventure to life. The control system will also feature some pretty advanced moves and the game will have a tutorial to learn the basics. From there you will have to learn to master each new move.

Granted, this one sounds dark and disturbing but take a look at the screen shots and you will see that this one has that look of something special. Having the power to control lightning and other elements sounds cool but as young Kratos finds out, being a god is not all its cracked up to be. We will be updating this epic adventure with more features and details as soon as Sony releases more info to us. It looks like Sony may have a huge hit on their hands early next year. Stay tuned for more info on this very unique adventure game.

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System: PS2
Dev: SCE Studios Santa Monica
Pub: Sony
Released: March 2005
Players: 1
Review by Cole
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
4.5
GRAPHICS
5.0
CONTROL
4.5
MUSIC/FX
5.0
VALUE
3.5