God of War
As a raging tornado this game takes you on a trip through ancient Greece, with giant and mythical creatures, under threatening views with swirling waves and screaming balls of fire… it relentlessly takes you by the throat from the moment the menu appears, drags you around by your controller during the hours of brutal bloodshed and then smacks you against the sharp rocks in the Egeyan sea. God of War, my dear friends, is what we call a top game!
Piece by piece we get to swallow the dramatic adventures of Kratos, a Spartan warrior and the hero of the story. Before long we get to know the terribly story of the lead character who since the beginning of time has had to do the God’s dirty work. Tired and exhausted he takes his weaponry for one last time to fulfill an ultimate assignment: beating the god of war, Ares. In the hope to get forgiveness for his many sins, Kratos enters the battle arena on last time.
This quite simple story is shown in an epic way that – with the many cut-scenes – grabs you by the throat and sucks you into the hard world it was back then. And that hard world of Ancient Greece gets shown on your TV exquisitely during your playing. Piece by piece the surroundings are pearls of level design, filled with secrets and beautifully designed buildings, views and details. Some really make you believe you’re in an immense world filled with mountains, seas and infinite plains. On top of that, there’s always something going on in the background, and the models of Kratos and his enemies are top notch. All this is perfectly shown by the camera and as such you get a really cinematographic experience.
This isn’t only due to the fact that everything is beautifully made but also the way the animations are done. Each movement, each transition, jump or change of direction is truly perfectly done. But since GoW is primarily an action game, the makers haven’t forgotten to animate the combat moves and fights incredibly great and mean. bodyparts fly around, blood literally flies all around, heads are torn off without any hesitation and skulls are bashed with relent, but with an overdose of style.
Kratos’ main weapon, the ‘Blades of Chaos’, are two huge pieces of axe that were attached to his wrists with a chain and which he swirls around him. Need I explain that what you can do with them makes so of the most beautiful fighting I’ve ever seen on console?
Not only does this add to the violent character of the game, also the many combos have an important part. These are all fantastic to see, perfectly add to each other and even if you’re not looking for it, each hit by Kratos is a feast for the eye. I caught myself now and then shouting things like “Wow man, this is sooooo cool”. Something alike when you got to see the bullet time from The Matrix for the very first time.
Let me add that next to this piece of aggression there’s also another adult side to the game. The oracle for instance has a rather thin piece of textile around her meaning that you get quite a good impression of her impressive bosom. Also in other scenes you get such images and there’s even a mini-game where you can go to bed with two naked Greec women and drive them towards an orgasm. Square, triangle, circle, turn left, turn right and repeat and the rest you can find out for yourself! I only I knew this when for the first time I and my… (that’s enough, ed.)
Since we’re talking about the fine sides of the game, a word on the gameplay is more than appropriate. The biggest part of GoW you’ll be running, exploring, or fighting against the many and diverse enemies (minotaurs, cyclops, undead warriors, …), all this varied with boss fights and some puzzles.
Next to combos, during fights you sometimes also get the possibility to start up mini-games: at that moment, Kratos for instance will crawl on a monster and you will have to press a button or combination as fast as possible after which you get an instant bonus or smack a boss against a wall. Beautiful! Not only can you get it on with weapons, with a filled mana-meter you can also use magic (like sending a lightning or stuff)
You can improve yourself by collecting Red Orbs which you can exchange for weapon upgrades or magic tricks you get from the gods throughout the game. That way not only the range and force of your attacks will increase, but you also get new abilities that teach you bit by bit the combinations.
These latter you’ll be needing more than ever during the never-seen-before boss fights. These aren’t big in amount but so more extensive and creatively done. Often you need to use things in the surroundings, you have to react quickly, strike and evade, and with most of them you’ll eat dust more than once. All this is forgotten fast however, once your opponent goes down and you can check out the next movie with a big smile on your face.
The controls are very well done and although I found the fighting in Ninja Gaiden a bit deeper, especially since it gets quite repetitive in God of War, it’s extensive enough (you’ll really need to block) for this much more accessible game.
Some other weapons (with equally beautiful animations) would have been welcome though. The difficulty degree on Normal is – contrary to Ninja Gaiden – doable and thanks to the many checkpoints you’ll never have to replay long parts. The God Mode offers the very experienced player an additional challenge and rewards you with more movies if you manage to finish it. Together with some freely playable “deleted levels” and “behind the scenes”-material this difficulty level offers a higher replay value.
As said, you also get puzzles from time to time and these can vary from balancing on a supporting beam, sliding crates to solving complex constructions that will keep you occupied for some time. They have one thing in common: they’re fun, challenging and never bore!
The sound deserves an equal praise: the soundtrack is phenomenal with beautiful pieces of orchestral music that very well support the intense fights and add the necessary drama to the cut-scenes. The effects are less striking but they’re also of a high finishing. Also worth a serperate note is the voice-acting that’s of a sky high level. The storyteller is so good that after three seconds you’ve forgotten you’re not on a rock high above the water, but instead comfortably at home.
God of War is hours of pure action fun of the highest level, especially due to the beautiful story, the excellent graphics and music, the great animations and the satisfying puzzles. On top of that, this is supported by solid and perfectly balanced gameplay, better than the average fights and truly breathtaking boss fights, and added with an adult and dark sauce of bloodshed, sarcastic humour and scarsely dressed women. This is the virtual equivalent of a epic action movie, but the sole difference is that this time it’s you who can kick ass. The game isn’t without some minor flaws and maybe hardcore gamers will find this just a bit too mainstream, but as Kratos and God of War haven’t grabbed you by the throat after five minutes, you better throw away your PS2!