Update: I was unfortunately not aware of Shamus Young's severe criticism of Fallout 3 available here to link in the original piece and I regret that. It dovetails rather nicely with what I've written and it's much better executed than my piece. I strongly recommend anyone...
If there is one thing I like, it's being super human. There's something about walking up to someone who means to hurt you, not realizing just who you actually are. In the back of my mind, I'm usually thinking "Do you know who I am!?" Knowing that you don't fear walking through the valley of the shadow of death SIMPLY because you happen to be the badest, coldest S.O.B. around can't be topped by anything. You can keep your level whatever Paladin. I'll stick with immortality. It's with these reasons in mind that I have come to love God of War. I love the sights and sounds that this game has. More importantly, however, I love the feeling of play Kratos. For the first time, I felt empowered playing a character in a game. And it felt good.
The game starts out fast, transitioning immediately from the main menu, to the opening cut scene. Kratos, sounding as emo as ever, mutters "...now there is no hope" as he plummets off the face of Mount Olympus. Before actually striking the rocky shores below, we are taken back in time to Kratos aiding the God's war against Aries. It seems that Zeus, the big giant head of the Gods, has decreed that no God will wage war on another. Aries, being...you know, a jerk, decided that now would be the perfect time to launch is assault on the living. Without the Gods to stand in his way, who is going to stop him? Kratos will.
Kratos was a Spartan Commander, and a brutal one at that. Employing the most bloodthirsty, cold, brutal tactics (until Bobby Knight starts coaching), Kratos earned a reputation of simply being a brutal leader. Until, of course, he finds himself on the receiving end of a Barbarian sword. Out numbered and surrounded, Kratos calls out to Aries for help. However, even though Kratos lived, he is now embodied with demonic super powers, and haunted every night by the souls he's taken. Now, it's time for his revenge, as the God’s need him to take down Aries.
The game itself plays like a first class action game. Kratos' main weapons are the "Blades of Chaos." These two blades, which are chained to his arms, can dish out some SERIOUS pain. They have a massive area of effect, and are fast as well. While you do get a few extra weapons in the game, none of them compare to how fun it is to chuck these things around. But he has more than the blades at his disposal. He also has a few magic spells. While they look good and can help you out in a jam, one of the best things about this system is just how easy it is to switch between fighting and using spells. Getting an 100+ combo isn't rare, but it's always awesome. Adding on to the combos, the fighting itself is amazing and graphic. Mini bosses require a certain bit of timing in order to take down, but their fall is worth the effort. From ramming your blades down the throat of a minotaur to pulling the wings off of harpies, this game doesn't spare on the finishing moves. The best part is they are so easy to pull off, you never end up dieing trying to perform a single move.
If there is one thing about this game that I love and that everyone can appreciate, it's the timing. Recently, outhouse lawyers and slimy politicians have waged an unconstitutional Crusade against violent video games, blaming them for the downfalls of crappy parenting. The gaming industry, under constant pressure, needed a game to give it a shot in the arm. God of War, with all it's sexuality and violence, IS that shot. I was so glad to see a producer and developer grow a pair of...something and release a game that flies in the face of every critic who claims to be an expert on the subject.
Sadly, this God isn't perfect. The game is a bit short and, sadly, there is no multiplayer. Though, it would be tough to incorporate more than 2 people for this game (seeing as how it is nearly 100% story driven), it would have been nice to see some kind of survival mode. Maybe see how long one player can last against the other in an ever-increasing difficulty of bad guys? Maybe next time.
Flaws aside, this game is gold. The story is engaging, the graphics are top notch, and the action, balanced with a few puzzles (which actually fit well into the level design), is very well paced. With the release of the PS3, 360, and Wii, the PS2 may be on it's last legs. God of War, and its sequel, may be the best kind of parting shot. When everyone is looking at Oblivion graphics and the Wii controller, it's nice to be able to go back and play a game that nearly got everything right. This time, brawn beats out beauty...then cuts it's pretty little arms off.