God of War
Game Info
Platform(s)
Playstation 2
Publisher
SCEA
Developer
SCEA Santa Monica
Genre
Action
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Nudity, Strong Language, Sexual Themes
 
Grade
The Good

• Fast and intense action
• Nice challenge
• Large levels that look great
• Nice voice acting

The Bad

• Camera could be placed better
• Character models could look nicer

 
Grade
A-

Slowly but surely, Sony's own development studios are building a solid collection of exclusive titles in a wide range of genres. With the likes of Devil May Cry and Ninja Gaiden setting the bar for action titles, Sony's own Santa Monica office had a certain level of expectation that they had to meet when they released God of War. While God of War and it's nearest competitors share the same basic concepts, they certainly play differently.

The story begins with the brutal warrior, Kratos, throwing himself to his death. Why would he do such a thing? Because Kratos is being used as a pawn in a war between the gods of Olympus. As is revealed throughout the game, Kratos is changed into a killing machine by Ares, but revolts and is eventually used as a weapon by the other gods when Ares wages war on Athens.

The gameplay behind God of War is a nice balance of combat, puzzles, exploration and platforming, without being too heavy in one certain area. Because of this, the action never really gets too tedious and the flow of the game rarely lulls. Kratos is a breeze to control and comes packed with a ton of moves. The X Button allows you to jump, while the Square and Triangle Buttons serve as a standard and heavy attacks, which can be strung together in combination. The Circle Button is used for grabs, often only available after you damage an enemy enough. Once you grab an enemy, you can perform finishing moves which differ by the enemy type. Minotaurs can be finished off by tapping the Circle Button while Gorgons can be killed by certain on-screen analog stick motions. If successful with these, you earn green or blue orbs to replenish your health or magic. Most enemies drop red experience orbs.

The L1 Button is a block/parry button, while the R1 is used to dash. The R2 is an all-purpose interact button, while the L2 uses the equipped magic/magical item. These are gained throughout the game as Kratos runs into various gods. At first, you'll gain an area attack from Poseidon, but eventually, you'll be able to toss lightning bolts and use Medusa's head to turn enemies to stone. Each of the magics have different uses without much similarity. As you gain more and more red orbs, you'll be able to spend them to level up Kratos' weapons and attacks, making the attacks more powerful and opening up more combinations.

As you kill more and more enemies (and they will come at you in waves), your rage meter will fill. Once it does, you can unleash Kratos' Rage of the Gods, which gives you awesome damage dealing power, even if for a limited time.

Visually, God of War certainly does a lot good. Locations are large and feature a ton of detail. Many locations are so impressively large that the sense of scale is awe-inspiring. The character design for Kratos, the gods and many of the enemies are pretty interesting, even if they add a more modern taste to the characters. There's a lot of heavy metal flair to the overall character design. When it comes to the average human NPC, though, most of the characters are pretty uninteresting. Visual effects add an extra layer to the nice textures in creating a cohesive game world. One can not overlook some excellent level design, especially in Pandora's Temple, where the level is one large puzzle unto itself. To finish this all off are some excellently done CG story sequences that are both directed well and just look good to boot.

The sound portion of God of War works as a nice backdrop to the visuals. The music is finely scored and works hand-in-hand with the action to create both a fine mood when you're exploring and a certain level of excitement at the right moments. Sound effects have a nice variety and really give a punch to the on-screen action. The voicecast, featuring TC Carson, Steve Blum, Linda Hunt and Carole Ruggier, delivers on the wonderful developed story.

There is certainly a lot going right in God of War. With having said that, though, there are some minor issues that I wish could have been polished. First and foremost, the player has no control over the in-game camera. A lot of the time, this isn't much of an issue, but there are a few occasions where it proves to make things more challenging than needed. Also, there is a few times where the lower-poly character models stand out as a sore spot, especially in comparison to contemporaries in the genre.

God of War is a solidly executed action title that provides more than a decent challenge. The game balance is well done and the average gamer will find a lot here to enjoy. With high production values and a solid story, I have to hope that this quality title will spawn future sequels.

- - Kinderfeld

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