Chris Sell
23 Jun, 2005

God of War Review

PS2 Review | We review one of the hottest PS2 games of the year.
Amazingly, you could count on one hand the amount of games based upon Greek Mythology. And with such an array of legendary stories to dip into it’s no surprise that someone has finally put them to good use. Headed by Twisted Metal creator David Jaffe, God of War is a game that combines the frantic combat action of the Devil May Cry series with the platforming and puzzle solving of UbiSoft’s Prince of Persia. But have Sony produced a winner from fusing these disparate sources? Or is God of War really just a jack of all trades and a master of none?

The game begins, quite uniquely, with the suicide of the main character Kratos. From here, the player is introduced to the back-story and events that have lead Kratos to take his own life. It’s not long before we learn that Kratos is in fact a warrior, enslaved by the God’s in an attempt to have his past sins forgiven and torturing memories that haunt his dreams eradicated from his head. God of War features some of the best cut-scene storytelling in gaming. It’s not only the technical beauty of them that impresses, but the style in which the whole game is presented. Using a mix of in-game engine visuals, some FMV of Final Fantasy quality and some stunningly unique 2D artwork that actually comes in and out of movement as it tells the story, there’s nothing quite like this out there.

We then move to events three weeks previous, and it’s here when you get your first taste of the actual gameplay. What makes the combat in God of War so much fun is its simplicity. You have two main attack buttons to worry about: a weak, quick slash and a slow, strong slice attack. There is also a powerful grapple you can perform on weakened foes that effectively works as a finishing move. The left analog stick controls Kratos’ movement while the right stick is used for evading manouvres, such as flips and rolls. Blocking plays an important part in God of War. Not only is it essential for defense, bt it's also good for attack. By carefully timing enemy attacks with a block, you can parry their weapon, completely opening them up for your own attacks, an essential skill to master on the harder difficulty settings.

True Fact – Hydra’s breath smells of coconuts

True Fact – Hydra’s breath smells of coconuts
Kratos’s main weapons are the ‘Blades of Chaos’. These are two swords, bound to his arms by chains. This means that they have a long reach and flexibility and have a huge amount of attacking potential as a result. All kinds of spins, grabs and slashes can be unleashed at your foes with ease, and it all looks satisfyingly rewarding as you do so. In addition to the Blades of Chaos, Kratos has access to magic abilities (accessed through the d-pad and the L1 button) which you get given to by various Gods throughout the game, all of which mesh perfectly into the fighting engine. ‘Poseidon’s Rage’ for example is ideal when you’re surrounded by multiple enemies as it swamps the area around Kratos with a destructive storm of lightning, while Zeus’s lighting bolt attack is ideal for picking off distant foes. The star of the show has to be ‘Medusa’s Gaze’. For those familiar with Greek Mythology, Medusa is famous for turning people into stone with her eyes, and that’s exactly what happens here. Once you’ve torn off your first Medusa head, you can use it to turn enemies into stone, making them crumble instantly with a single blow – genius.

Like similar games such as Devil May Cry and Ninja Gaiden, Orbs are dropped by defeated enemies, and can also be found in various chests throughout the game. Orbs are used to upgrade the strength and effectiveness of magical spells as well as adding new skills, combos and power to the Blades of Chaos. As with the aforementioned games, style is rewarded here too as by defeating enemies with high combos you are given more Orbs in return.

Something we haven’t seen from the likes of Devil May Cry and Ninja Gaiden is the use of Resident Evil 4/Shenmue-style 'QTE' (Quick Timer Event) during combat. For some of the larger monsters in the game, such as the Minotaur, you’ll be able to initiate these ‘QTE’s via the grab button once you’ve worn down the enemy enough. Once started, Kratos will leap all around the enemy with various slashes and powerful blows. Here button/stick commands will appear on screen and you have a short time to input them and providing you get them in time, Kratos will continue his assault. These are superbly enjoyable to watch and highly satisfying as a result.

Ok Mr Minotaur, say AHHHHHHHHH!

Ok Mr Minotaur, say AHHHHHHHHH!
However, it’s during the boss fights that these prove the most entertaining. Take the very first battle in the game against the Mini-Hydra for example. Here your button presses sees Kratos ducking and diving all over the place before finally landing some monstrous blows to water-dwelling beast. Once weakened he’ll then stick his blades into the creatures head and use the chains to act as a giant rope to pull the Hyrda crashing into the sharp vertical post in the centre of the screen, piercing into its face. The boss battles are truly epic to behold and what was just described is really only a taster of what lies ahead…

While God of War shares a lot with the Devil May Cry games, there’s also a strong Prince of Persia flavour throughout. Although the game features a huge amount of combat, it’s full of exploration and platforming with some genuinely enjoyable puzzles woven in. The levels are huge and full of tricks and tracks to stop you in your tracks. Players will find themselves climbing up walls, swimming underwater, swinging along ropes and sliding down zip lines. While Prince of Persia always had trouble combining combat with platforming, God of War pulls it off perfectly. While the game never tells you what you have to do, rarely do you find yourself stuck. The level design is of such quality that getting lost isn’t an issue as there’s very little in the way of backtracking. Even when you find yourself traveling a long way for an item, a secret door opens or lift activates and you find yourself back where that item needs to be used. In a game of this genre, it’s encouraging to see the developers went to some length to reduce needless wandering while others would have used it to add artificial length to the game.

Flaws in God of War are few and far between. The greatest issue worth mentioning is the camera. It’s a fixed camera and while it does a great job following Kratos for the most part, there are a fair few annoying moments when you’re attacked by something off-screen, or you fail to make a jump because you couldn’t really see the jump properly. PALGN's other main gripe with the game is that it’s not the kind of game you can replay over and over again like Devil May Cry 3 is. Whereas that game scored you after each mission with a rating, God of War is something you play to beat rather than something to play to get good at, so it’s not quite as addictive over long periods of time in the way Capcom’s game is. There are other smaller issues, though. Upgrading items with your Orbs takes far too long to actually do as spending minutes watching thousands of orbs being exchanged really isn’t necessary when they could have just made any upgrade a single second button press. And, the final boss is a little disappointing, but overall God of War is about as good as you could possibly expect, especially considering this is the developer's first attempt.

Graphically, God of War is a very impressive game and features quite possibly the best graphics on PS2 (and rivals many games on Xbox). The character models are superb, with both Kratos and his foes looking excellent, and animated with finesse. Each level has its own distinctive feel from the stormy weathered, rocking ships of the opening level, to the demolished ruins of Athens later in the game. There’s the vast, blistering deserts and fantastically designed labyrinth to enjoy. There are also some excellent special effects throughout with reflections on wooden floors, pools of glistening water and some top notch lighting. The whole thing runs satisfyingly smooth and there’s even a widescreen option too.

This could be painful…

This could be painful…
The game’s soundtrack is equally impressive. The score provides an epic, cinematic feel from start to finish, fitting each environment and situation perfectly. Sound effects are all suitably spot on with weapons clashing and magic spells cracking through enemies with satisfaction, while the voice acting is up there with the best in gaming. The cutscenes are superbly voiced, but it’s the narrator of the story that is the most professionally convincing throughout. DPLII surround sound support is the icing on the cake.

God of War isn’t an easy game, but it’s far more assessable than any Devil May Cry has been. It’s standard difficulty setting is ideal for most players, while the unlockable ‘God Mode’ provides expert players with something to get their teeth into. Though you are still restrained by a typical save point system, the save points are located evenly and are supported by about two check points you’ll restart from should you die. At around 10 hours long, it’s of perfect length as it is long enough to provide you with a non-stop supply of new weapons, levels and puzzles, yet finishes before ideas become overdone. The story too is superbly well laid out, rarely stalling from start to finish. On completion, God of War opens up a ton of extra content. There’s ‘making-of’ videos, deleted scenes, scrapped character designs, trailers, etc – all of which is actually rather interesting to watch (take a look at some of the awful Kratos designs they’ve had over the years for example) and makes up somewhat for not having the same replayability Devil May Cry 3 has.

Overall, it’s hard not to be incredibly impressed with God of War. It’s one of those rare games that, while playing, it’s quite easy to lose track of time and end up playing for longer stretches than you intended. Many times you’ll get to a save point that you planned to stop playing at, only to continue playing when you get there out of sheer curiosity and anticipation at what awaits you around the next corner. When we think of other games that have this same effect (Resident Evil 4 and Metal Gear Solid 3 spring to mind) it’s certainly in good company. We’ve intentionally spoke very little of the superb story as it’s something that’s better experienced afresh, but needless to say it fits the whole Greek Mythology theme with perfection. God of War is a game recommended to all PS2 owners and is essential for fans of the genre - quite simply, it's difficult to imagine there will be many games on any console that will match it this year. Stellar.
The Score
Superb from start to finish. With game releases quieting down now until Christmas, this should be on every PS2 owner's wishlist.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related God of War Content

God of War 2 in the works?
02 Mar, 2006 Details to surface next month.
Universal Pictures takes on God of War
27 Jul, 2005 A movie to break the trend?
Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War Review
01 Jun, 2005 PALGN grabs a heavy bolter and delves into the 41st Millennium.
8 years ago
i have to say those screens don't do the game any justice whatsoever... at least not while in motion icon_confused.gif

i've not had much of a go on this game (only beaten the second Hydra battle) but it is pretty damn fun...

(also, is that Hydra photo a battle with 2, or is this a non-aussie version... the HUD is a little different to what mine was/is... namely the double-directionality of the Hydra's health bar)
8 years ago
Hey, a good game based on Ancient Greek mythology!
Yay for everything Greek!

I don't think I'll get the game though - I don't really use my PS2 any more...
8 years ago
We don't take the screenshots ourselves, they're all materials given to the media. Hence why they sometimes look old, buggy, etc.
8 years ago
ObsoletE wrote
i have to say those screens don't do the game any justice whatsoever... at least not while in motion icon_confused.gif
Screenshots 'never' give a game justice. Never. That's why I don't really take them into consideration when judging a game on it's graphics through screenshots.

Good review though. Despite all the hype surrounding this game, I haven't actually seen a lot of it in action nor has it really interested me. I've played and enjoyed the Devil May Cry series and this looks right up my alley in that area. I'll buy the game, but might wait another month once some deals start kicking in.
8 years ago
^ i'm aware that they never do a game justice, but sometimes you can kind of imagine how a game will look in motion from some decent screens, those, however, are truly horrible screens (well, the three in the article... i didn't look at the media panel)

BTW: EB have demos of the game if you go and ask for them... they actually gave me one when i bought the game... which was bizarre, i thought it might have some extras or something, but if it does, i don't know where to get them (maybe i have to finish the demo)...

send me a PM with your address and i'll post it to you if you can't get one yourself...

EDIT: i don't have the demo anymore, so don't PM me...
8 years ago
Can anyone tell me if the game is unedited?
Why is this information so damn hard to find out!!!???
8 years ago
well, i've just started the new level with 2 naked women in my bed...

...and the game contains a lot of violence too icon_razz.gif

blood, dismemberment, gore galore

and yes... boobs...
8 years ago
Hooray for boobies.

But on a serious note, I definitely want to look into buying this game, but it seems the games have taken me over, as I am greatly behind in my buying schedule.

I'm definitely going to try to get this one though, even if I need to trade in other crap to get it.
8 years ago
So, can you have sex with the two girls? If you say yes, I'm definately buying it.
No, I'm not hard up for some porn action. I am simply sick of games getting edited or banned here.
I want all my gams uncut and untouched.
Same as any other media or artform I look/listen at/to.
8 years ago

I don't know whether you can 'do' the pretty ladies or not, but they are definitely there (see above). I had some family friends over and I just wanted to get outta that room as quickly as possible, they're a little uptight about this stuff, too bad. Apparently if you want to get down and dirty, you've got to jump onto the bed and press O. Apparently.

I've put a few hours into this game and it is really living up to the hype. I'm a big fan of mythology, especially Greek, so I was destined to love this game. It looks great, plays great, load times are basically non-existent, the soundtrack is amazing. And Holy Freaking Bejeezus, that Hydra was bloody awesome. And you say that's a taste of what is to come? Wow, I find that hard to imagine.

Like the review said the only main issue I’ve got is with the camera, it does a very good job MOST of the time, but every now and then I get screwed over because I can't see what I'm doing.

Oh and this game is HARD! I've been getting my ass handed to me on a platter every time I face a new enemy for the first time. At least at Spartan difficulty anyway. Whenever a game I've been really looking forward to comes out I always max out the difficulty, to keep me at it for longer. And it's also good training for the inevitable run through on God mode, those unlockables seem to good to miss. I'd rather have the game be a bit harder than a hell of a lot harder if I had played on Normal. One thing I've learnt from this difficultly; L1 is your friend.

Anyway, this game really is a must by for all PS2 owners. If you're looking for a challenging action game with production values that are through the roof, look no further! Do it for the Hydra! icon_wink.gif

btw, the game has a lot of boobies. Really! icon_razz.gif
8 years ago
OK, I'll cave in - what is this game?

Is it like a 3rd person type action adventure game where you do stuff in Ancient Greece?
Free-roaming or linear?

What is this game?

Answer or not, I don't care - I'll look up a review somewhere...
8 years ago
Andro: it's quite a lot like PoP:SoT (haven't played WW) but more focus on action than on puzzles... the only puzzles i've really come across have been how to defeat a particular enemy to progress ahead... in between is (so far) been running from one place to another, and back again with a key...so: it's linear... so far... but then i've been on boats for now so there is only so much movement allowed in these circumstances anyway...

Sex: i did the sex "minigame" and yes, you jump on the bed and an "O" symbol comes up like when tackling a boss... the camera moves to the side showing a vase on a cabinet and you have to press buttons and move the left control stick as it tells you... if you "win" you get heaps of red orbs (buys upgrades) and the vase gets bounced off the cabinet...

all quite pointless IMO... if i was 10 years younger i'd probably get a kick out of it, but now it seems to detract from the game if anything... it kinda makes sense from a story POV... Kratos is running from his past and his memories and taking solice in the arms of big breasted women is a way of doing this...

i'm not actually too sure i like the minigame elements of the boss combats, you should be able to kill the boss's through sheer perserverance as well as pressing buttons in the right order... though i suppose in the case of the Hydra, it opened up the next story element...

and L1 (block) is indeed your friend... infact i've only come across 1 attack that this doesn't block, so combat is sometimes a little easy IMO, but then i'm only doing it on normal...
8 years ago
"What is this game?" I cracked up when I read that. If I saw the words boobies and sex in relation to a action game, I'd ask the very same thing...

ObsoletE wrote
i'm not actually too sure i like the minigame elements of the boss combats, you should be able to kill the boss's through sheer perserverance as well as pressing buttons in the right order... though i suppose in the case of the Hydra, it opened up the next story element...
Trust me, sheer perseverance is a good way of describing what is needed on Spartan mode, for me anyway. I've gotten pretty PO'd for getting chewed up and spit out by some undead bastards, but every successful battle is a small victory. I look forward to those minigames to pop up because it means I can finally relax a bit! Oh and that 'next story element' was pretty funny, "Help me!" huh? where's that coming from... icon_lol.gif (That transition from out to in was so cool. Seamless)

And what's with those "Would you like to play on easy mode?" messages! Damn, what a blow to your pride. They might as well have said, "Wow, you really suck. Let's drop the difficulty for the little baby baby." Screw you guy... icon_cry.gif
8 years ago
Heh - well Capoeira, I was getting curious as to what this was...

ObsoletE: I had to think for about a minute before I even knew what "PoP:SoT" even was...

But, I think I get you - I have never played a PoP game, so I don't exactly know what to expect - Zelda games are my main experience with thrid person advanture type games with enemies and such...

Thanks for the info though!
8 years ago
ok, it doesn't really compare with Zelda IMO...

but i've not played many since i hated the first 3D Zelda...
8 years ago
You hated "Ocarina of Time"?
I'm shocked and outraged!

Ah well, I guess they do look kind of EXTREMELY different as far as games go, but I just read a review of GoW intoday's Herald, and they gave it 5/5!
I might hire this one out next weekend and see what it's all about then.
8 years ago
it's strange... given your rants on sexism and so on, it makes me reluctant to tell you to buy it, but so far it's been a great game in spite of this content...

depending on your family, you might want to give it a miss if you don't have a private TV to play it on...

and yes... i hated OoT...

EDIT: Spelling FTW!
8 years ago
Well, we have one giant plasma TV over here, so there is 0% privacy in that respect - what I watch, eveybody else watches, and vica versa.
It makes it very hard to play video games too, in a household that is largely over video games...
Too bad for me...

The content might be a bit "mature", but if the game is as good as everyone says it is, then it might not be a problem...

But, I don't know - I was about to sell my PS2, and I still might - I need more money for future Nintendo stuffs.

And as for OoT - fair enough.
If you don't like it, then you don't like it.
First time I saw it, it was unlike anything I'd ever seen, so I've been hooked ever since.
Anyways man, thanks for the info and the recommendation!
8 years ago
I can't believe people are asking what God of War is about in a God Of War Review thread icon_razz.gif
8 years ago
That is funny, kinda.
Have you played Devil May Cry or Ninja Gaiden?
If you have you know what to expect with God of War.
8 years ago
After watching more of this game, Im starting to realise how much it really is like Devil May Cry.

One thing that is disturbing me is the combat system. Everything looks cool but it looks like more cinematic fights, for example like in RE4 the knife scene, when you need to quickly hit buttons that appear on the screen.

Is there actually more to the basic fighting than that?
8 years ago
i haven't played the knife scene in RE4 so i don't know how similar it is but basically this is the combat system:
you have 2 attack buttons, light/fast/horizontal swing and heavy/slow/vertical swing... plus block, jump and grab buttons and the right stick is used to dodge... and when you get them, there are magic spells/abilities you can use too...

you attack in combo's, such as [],[],[] (3x light attack) or [],[],/\ (light, light, heavy) to beat guys up...

but there are several "grades" of enemy... normal troops, heavier troops and bosses (so far)

normal troops are the everyday skeletons and harpies and so on, you kill them by normal attacks and grabs and so on...

the heavier troops i've come across have been Minotaurs, Cyclops and Gorgons... these can be killed in the normal way, by simply beating them to death, but once they are nearly dead the O button is used to activate a death move, which requires a button or control stick combo to be played correctly and the beast is finished off, usually yielding a health or mana restore pickup...

then there are the bosses... these are beaten like normal for a time, then a O move is activated and this repeats several times until it is killed... but they are killed through the combo moves...

this is a basic rundown on what happens anyway...

actually, these combo/deathmoves (the game calls them minigames) remind me in a way to Dance Dance Revolution... if you played without the mat... you basically press the buttons in time to the display in order to perform the moves...

also, these moves appear to be random... ie: the buttons you need to press aren't the same from enemy to enemy...
8 years ago
^ Thanks for that man. It does seem alot like RE4's cutscenes. Does the system get repetitive? or do you get new combos along the way or something?
8 years ago
you get new normal attack combos through upgrading your weapons/magic abilities...

throughout the game you collect different coloured orbs, red, blue and yellow (or is it green? being colour blind can be a hindrance)

the blue and yellow restore mana and health respectively, and the red orbs are used to buy upgrades... think Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers/Return of the King...

actually those games are very much like this game, except with only 1 character, and no ranged attack (initially)

the minigames do get a bit repetitive since there seems to only be one death-move animation per heavy troop... ie: Minotaurs - you jump on their chest and ram your sword down their throat...
Gorgons - break their neck... Cyclops - stab them in the eye...

but the actual combos are different... for minotaurs you press buttons in the right order (as per on screen prompting), for gorgons, you perform half and full circle moves on the control stick...
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