God of War II [Playstation 2, 2007]

God of War II

God of War II
System: Playstaton 2
Publisher: SCEA
Release Date: March 13, 2007

WOW, now THIS is how you do a sequel! God of War II takes everything from its predecessor and increases it tenfold. After conquering Atlas in the first game, Kratos has taken over as the new God of War. Kratos’s bloodthirsty ways have not been kindly looked upon by the other gods, and the almighty Zeus has finally had enough and strips Kratos of his power. Now a down-and-broken man, Kratos sets off on the ultimate quest: to murder Zeus. A lofty task, to be sure, and the journey along the way is nothing short of incredible.

The original God of War is a great-looking game, but GOW2 is just beautiful (well, as beautiful as gory non-stop violence can be). The textures have been cleaned up admirably, and everything looks sharper as a whole. While I was impressed with the original GOW’s visuals, this is easily one of the best-looking games ever created for the PS2.

The game’s mechanics are largely the same. This is still a prominent hack ‘n slash brawler with platforming, puzzle and RPG elements. There are a handful of new traits that Kratos can acquire, such as the ability to glide and to fly atop the famed horse Pegasus, but the same principles remain. One of my biggest concerns with God of War was its lack of boss battles. This issue has been dramatically improved in GOW2. At the very beginning of the game, you are inserted into an epic battle against the massive Colossus, a boss fight that was forever immortalized by Penny Arcade. Boss battles are everywhere in this game, and some of them rank among the most memorable fights I have ever experienced in a video game. Some people complained about the first God of War’s length (about 8-10 hours). This has also been improved in GOW2, as now a typical campaign will last closer to 12+ hours. These enhancements really show that SCE Santa Monica listened to their fanbase, and you have to respect that.

God of War 2 has accomplished what sequels should do in the first place, and that is to improve upon as many aspects as possible. While I hesitate to say the game is “perfect” (there are still occasional camera issues, and some of the puzzles are absolutely frustrating), I would still consider GOW2 one of the best action/adventure games I have ever played, and it is easily among the best in the PS2’s gigantic library. Highly, highly recommended!

9/10

God of War [Playstation 2, 2005]

God of War [PS2]

God of War
System: Playstaton 2
Publisher: SCEA
Release Date: March 22, 2005

God of War is widely considered one of the best games on the now-hanging-on-a-thread Playstation 2 system. As a third-person action adventure game, God of War is certainly a strong offering. The game combines elements from all sorts of genres, including platform, puzzle and, to a lesser extent, RPGs. At its core, however, GoW is a hack ‘n slash brawler.

Users play as Kratos, a blood-thirsty Greek warrior with unbelievable strength who is on a revenge mission to kill Ares, the god of war. The story is simple, but as the game progresses it is easy to get behind the revenge plotine. The Greek mythological setting allows the game to provide some truly epic moments. Boss battles, although few and far in between, are incredibly intense, as there is nothing like taking on an opponent far bigger than Kratos. In order to slay bosses and some other tough enemies, users have to input certain buttons/joystick movements to match what is shown on screen. While some oppose these quick-time events, I found them to be satisfying since they help create a frantic atmosphere in the key moments of the game. There are dozens of memorable events in the game, and with an impressive soundtrack in the background, it truly feels as if you are partaking in something epic.

While God of War is a well-polished game (and easily one of the best-looking on the PS2), it does have a couple flaws that hold it back from being a masterpiece. As mentioned earlier, the boss battles are incredible yet there are only a few in the game. It would be nice to see more of them to break up the occasional monotony of entering a room, clearing it of enemies, and then repeating this over and over. Also, while the stationary camera angles are usually good enough, there are moments where they switch over at the most inopportune times. This doesn’t happen too often, but when it does it is frustrating. Overall, however, God of War is definitely an enjoyable experience and is one of the strongest hack ‘n slash games available on the PS2.

8/10