God of War Review

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Graphics: 9.5
Sound : 10
Gameplay : 9.5
Multiplayer : N/A
Overall : 9.6
Review by Andy Levine
God Of War is the quintessence of what every PS2 action game is supposed to be. This compilation of over three years of work will take you on our journey through Ancient Greece as Kratos. Through your conquests, you'll uncover more about Kratos' past as a merciless Spartan general. The culmination of this game takes you to a raging war in Athens, where you must destroy the God Of War, Ares. This tale of vengeance is filled with brutality, and will captivate you right from the very beginning.

God Of War is a fast paced action game filled with puzzles that will quickly put your mind to work. You start the game off on a ship in the Aegean Sea, where you are fighting skeletons and vampire-like bats. At this point, you are taught the basics of the game. Pressing square will have Kratos perform a quick attack with his two swords, and pressing triangle will have him perform a slower but more damage inflicting attack. Pressing these buttons in succession will allow Kratos to completely tear his enemies apart. Shortly after, you are taught the "grab" technique, which gives you the ability to take hold of your enemies and finish them off. You can obliterate them in several ways, such as literally ripping them into two halves, or bashing their head against the ground until there is nothing left of them. The beginning level introduces the basics at the perfect pace, so you keep learning new tricks, and at a slow enough pace so you have time to remember them all. Many other games will bombard you with combos and techniques to use, and if you're lucky you might remember a few of them; this is not an issue with God Of War. By the end of the mission you'll know how to climb, swim, and Kratos will even find himself rappelling in a few instances. Using such abilities, your warrior will be put into scenarios where it will appear there is no possible way to escape, however using your acumen will prove to be your deadliest weapon. To add to the difficulty of these mazes, most of the objects in the environment are at your disposal. Whether you need to hurdle over an enemy-infested wall, or swing over a seemingly bottomless pit, you will discover that using your surroundings can make the most challenging tasks much easier.

While Kratos is already a blood-thirsty combatant to begin with, as the exploration unfolds he will only become stronger. After slaying your enemies, some of them will leave behind Red Orbs that can be used to purchase upgrades. These enhancements can make your weapons stronger and faster, and can attribute your god-given powers. That's right, you'll come into contact with gods such as Zeus and Artemis, and they will help you on your conquest. These skills are powered by your magic, which is regenerated by collecting Blue Orbs. These orbs are harder to obtain than the Red, but magic is the most effective way to suppress the opposition. The last type of Orb in the game is the Green Orb, which will replenish your health when you are near death. At first, your health and magic meters will be enough to suffice you through the first few levels, but as you venture deeper into Athens it simply won't be enough. To solve this dilemma, you can collect Gorgon Eyes, which will raise your health, and Phoenix Feathers, which will raise your magic. Collecting six of either of these will considerably increase your ability to stay alive longer or attack more forceful. In short, Kratos' brute force intensifies as you pursue his legendary career.

While puzzles and character development are enough for some, the barbarity in this game will be sure to grab your attention. While some games have you believe a few measly swipes of the sword will be enough to kill the minions from hell, God Of War takes a different approach to this suggestion. While using simple melee attacks will be enough to hurt your enemy, if you want to annihilate them you must take a different approach. If the enemy is noticeably weaker than you, Kratos will be able to grab a hold of them and rip them apart, leaving their organs on the ground and blood spurting everywhere. For the stronger enemies, you must first weaken them, and then the "minigame" icon will appear, which is the circle button. By pressing circle, an icon will appear above your opponent, and you must do as the icon says. If it says square, press square, if it says rotate the analog clockwise, then rotate away. By doing this, your adversary will face a much more painful death than normally possible. For instance, performing this on a Gorgon will have you take your sword and ram it down his throat, leaving him dead on the ground. For the bosses, minigames are the only way in which they will able to meet their demise. While the boss levels can be very challenging, the final scene showing your foe in their last second alive makes it all worth it. Most importantly, the Rage of the Gods is certain raise your lust for blood. If enough damage has been inflicted on Kratos, the Rage of the Gods option is available, and when activated it will be very deadly. Once initiated, Kratos will become filled with adrenaline, and all of the enemies around you have no chance at survival. Filled with furious anger, Kratos will slash, gut, mangle, and mutilate anything who crosses his path in a grotesque manner. His anger displayed in battle exemplifies the true nature of this Spartan leader.

While the gameplay is simply outstanding, the graphics are just as impressive. Every minute detail has been meticulously created to truly bring out the full gaming experience. The opening cinematic is simply gorgeous; you can see every hair on Kratos' head, every curve of his skull, and every muscle on his body. As he plunges head-first off of a cliff, the clouds rush past him vigorously, and they are affected by his very movement. During gameplay, the graphics don't differentiate much either, which makes the experience much more intense. His shadow lays perfectly upon the surface of the ground beneath him, and as he walks it will adjust itself to fit to every change in elevation. Also, reflections on water and glossy surfaces are astonishing. Not only does Kratos gleam back at himself, but other influences, such as the moon and fires, are also reflected. The lighting effects are pure bliss; the strength of the light weakens as you travel farther from the source, and this is clearly shown by your shadow. The environment also helps show off the perfection of the graphics engine in several ways. First, as you walk over a musty area, each individual spec of dust will rise into the air. As you climb a rope, dust will fly off as your hand grabs the area above you. When an object, such as a stone statue or wooden crate, is smashed it will crumble in a realistic manner, leaving debris where it once stood. However, easily the most captivating visual feature would be the destruction of the enemies. As your sword stabs through them, blood surges out of their back in massive quantities. Your sword radiates an orange glow as you manage to bash enemies in succession, which is very good eye candy to say the least. The most memorable part of your confrontation with your enemies will be the way you bring them down. As the crushing blow is delivered, the assailant will explode tremendously in a burst of flesh and blood, and then finally crumble into a small pile.

The audio performance delivered fits right in with the rest of the game. Every object has its own distinct sound, whether it is the piercing of the sword or the crumbling of a statue. The vocals have been done eloquently, and it is hard to believe that actors with scripts were responsible for this. From the burning of the fire to the battle cries of your comrades, all of the sound effects work together to create a truly realistic feeling. The sound in this game can easily be compared to action movies such as Gladiator and the Lord of the Rings series, which truly sets it apart from any other PS2 game.

In conclusion, God Of War is an amazingly delivered epic journey through Ancient Greece overflowing with action and adventure. Finally, someone has taken all of the elements every game in this genre needed and combined them into a beautiful masterpiece. For all of the reasons mentioned in this article, you can be sure to expect God Of War to be a likely victor for the prestigious Game of the Year Award.