The Playstation 2 is at the end of it's life, the prime years of it gone a long time ago. Over the past 2-3 years, few games have grabbed my attention, the jaded gamer in me looking for a cheap thrill on his dusty Sony machine. Some great ones have come by, from RPGS like Suikoden, to complex adventures like Okami, but one of the biggest releases in the past 2 years was God of War, the game that many cite as one of the, if not the, best Playstation 2 game out there.
While the game has a LOT going for it, certian annoyances hinder it to being the true sucess it should be. Kind of like other blockbusters like Gears of War, Twilight Princess, and Halo 2.
Make no mistake, the game is graphically a piece of art. Excellent level design with great textures and lighting, crisp corners and a lot of details and effects make God Of War an excellent game in terms of graphics. The only complaint, lots of slowdown, at least on my old machine, during the awesome cutscenes. That really kills the power of the cutscenes a bit.
Final Score- A-
God of War first off is a semi-new premise. As Kratos, a spartan who can't really die, attempts to take down Ares, the God of War himself, by literally killing all in his path to obtain pandoras box. The story alone about Kratos's origins would make an excellent movie, novel and game, and surpasses many "by the numbers" stories any day. Unfortanatly, the major reveal in the end as to WHY Kratos is going after Ares is somewhat of a letdown, mainly because, at least to me, was seen before we got so far into the game.
Regardless of the minor plot problem, the gameplay is inspiring, smooth, and very effective if not as innovative as it should be. The context-based combat and the takedown games are, to be blunt, awesome. It oozes cinematic flair and an excellent player will fight gracefully, brutally, and easily through most levels in the game. Figuring out the various parts of the combos is a lot of fun, and makes fighting worth a go for most of the game.
The problem comes in with redundancy. After the first 3-4 levels, the fighting becomes more of the same, ripping the wings off harpies, stabbing minotaurs in the head, or cutting the arms off of undead legionnaires. Same motions, same combos, so once you get them all, the challenge is essentially gone. While Sony tries to remedy this with more enemies, stronger fights, and tighter levels, it is essentially the same in the later levels.
Another problem is the levels themselves. They look awesome, and there a ton of secrets and puzzles in each, with most of them really well contructed or well hidden, but it is essentially a linear adventure. Most gamers are spoiled of this, but I can see where God of War is coming from, trying to capture the magic Super Mario did years ago. The problem is that adventure games now have more of a degree of choice to them, and are, in a sense, more free-form than this game.
And with that, comes the platform elements, which annoy me to this day. It was ok to have open pits that lead to your doom back in 1996. But now, it is kind of a waste really? Especially if you didn't save, or are deep into a level. Naturally hardcore gamers will get through this, but casual players will be turned off by that annoyance.
If it wasn't for the linear, redundancy and platform bits, God of War would of been an A in gameplay. Am I nitpicking, a bit yeah, but you need to nitpick every game somewhat.
Final Score- B+
The game has a phenomenal orchestra score, an decent voice cast, and great sound effects. No problems here. Once again though, the cutscenes were slowing down, and this caused the sound and music to become disoriented, so I didn't hear it as well as I wanted to. Other than that, no complaints really.
Final Score- A-
God of War falls into the teirs that Twilight Princess, Gears of War, and Halo 2 do, excellent games that should be in the collection of the gamers, but are not "The best games ever." God of War 2 is coming out in less than a month, and will no doubt be phenomenal, but if there are fundamental differences between the controls and gameplay in GOW2 over this one, it will achieve the very same that is listed here.
Overall, God of War is one of the best games on the Playstation 2. So if you never played it, do your old system a favor, and rent it today, giving it one last grand battle before it's eventual death.
Final Score- B+
Overall Score- B+