FYI, I’m converting all of my future reviews over to my new Star System, for ease of use. Also, I’m not going to strive to be as technical, but instead I’ll just try to give you an impression of what I liked an didn’t like of whatever I review in the future. I’ve decided I’m not a wikipedia entry. I’m just a guy with opinions about games, which other people might want to know.
On to the Review!
Sorry, Cliffy, but God of War II beat you to the Bigger Better and More Badass idea.
Jan 20, 2010 – I really likes the first God of War. Perhaps I even borderline loved it. But the first God of War simply can’t compare to the second in most respects. The sequel was better graphically (if only slightly,) and it had better combat and more epic moments.
But before I get to gushing about the parts of the game I loved, let’s first talk about some of the downers. The puzzles simply aren’t as neat or interesting as the first one. In the first game, Pandora’s temple felt like a real masterful labyrinth. It felt truly crafted to be an excellent puzzle showpiece, with elements like the rotating room to be particularly gratifying. When you figure out one of the original’s puzzles, you really felt like you accomplished something.
In God of War II, the puzzles simply aren’t as engaging or satisfying. They are either very small, one room affairs, or they are merely long chains of “Grab the Keycard” style gameplay. Occasionally a puzzle will stand out, but really, the temples and such are just hallways to slaughter undead and monstrous foes in.
The other downer is that it doesn’t have as much of the flavor of personal loss and emotion as the first one. In that game, your hatred of Ares was really well done because it was tied directly to your personal tragedy. The second game focuses primarily on the betrayal of Zeus and Kratos’ revenge against the gods. It doesn’t have as much weight behind it. Sadness was in many ways just as important an emotion in Kratos’ motivation as his rage was. Now he’s mostly rage.
That’s not to say that the emotional aspects are altogether missing. Instead, you follow Kratos on an interesting and engaging journey of revenge that is very suitable for its mythological setting. In the first game, you were a Mortal fighting a God, and so the emotions were more human. Now the stage is set between Titans and Gods (Kratos now being a fallen god himself.) The emotional impact takes a backstep only inasmuch as the story becomes that much more mythological, and it is a natural progression for the story.
As God of War III nears, I hope they manage to bring the emotional impact once more down to a human level. We’ll see.
But as for the mythological elements, the game does it all spectacularly. The creative design for the characters and places is great (if a little bland for some of the Titans.) The places you go and the being you interact with become grander and grander. Epic is the only word I can think of to describe it all.
The fact that the very first level involves Kratos fighting the Colossus of Rhodes (the Colossus of freaking Rhodes!) is incredible. The scale and power of your enemies is impressive, and will often make you feel like an ant. Climbing up the face of Atlus is quite the experience.
But as amazing as all this is, it’s the gameplay which is the real star. They took the great fighting system from the first game and made it feel even smoother. Combos are slick and easy to pull off without feeling too much like a button masher. I felt in control of the chaos I was causing at all times. I never once felt like I did something I didn’t really want to do. The only time when this wasn’t true was in cases of platforming with the wings of Icarus, which was sometimes a little awkward due to the way the camera works in the game.
Perhaps the greatest improvement is in the slightly larger window in which to get the quicktime events. In the first game I would fail time and time again because I simply didn’t have enough time to register the symbol on screen and press the button on my controller. Now almost all of the quicktime events are just a tad easier to accomplish and it feels just right for the difficulty. Better yet, the more difficult enemies get, the quicker the quicktime events happen, making the progression in challenge feel believable and acceptable, even when Zeus kicked my butt over and over and over again at the end of the game.
The music and voice acting is as good as it was in the first game, especially for Kratos, though it sometimes seems like they could only afford two female voice actors. I’ll now how God of War music stuck in my head for a few days, but that’s fine with me. It’s good stuff.
God of War II is an excellent game. In many ways, though not all, it surpasses the original. This franchise is a classic of modern gaming, especially of the last console generation, and everyone who owns a PS2 should do themselves the favor of checking this one out. Or hey, if you have a PS3 get the God of War Collection. You won’t regret giving God of War II a spin.