God of War

The Holy Goat of Power 3/28/2005 

Since most professional reviewers have gone off their rocker spoiling the plot and the coolest suprises while forgetting the important description of how the game actually plays, I've written a no-nonsense review for those seriously debating what game to spend their hard-earned money on.

In a nutshell:

Fussbett says: There is a puzzle in this game, I shit you not, where you have to protect a crate. An escort mission where you must deliver a crate to a destination unharmed. The best of all worlds! It would only be funnier if it happened in a minecart.
Over the top action game that finally delivers on the promises Sony made about the PS2 back in the heady days of the "emotion engine" and the "dancing couple" tech demo. Probably the best PS2 game ever made.

Compared to other games you might have played:

Equal parts Devil May Cry and Soul Calibur with a liberal dose of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and a dash of Half-Life.

Game Setting

Ancient Greece after being run though the Todd-McFarlane-o-matic. In-game environments are always huge and the music is a constant rush of thumping war-drums with chorus accompaniment. Gives a "Clash of the Titans" meets "Raiders of the Lost Ark" ambience. Don't expect any tittering coyness. This game doesn't fuck around with its blood and gore, its sexual themes, or its epic scale.

The protagonist is an anti-hero named Kratos. Bald dude with the strength of Hercules, the speed of Perseus, and the Crate-Shoving ability of Sisyphus. Your primary weapon is a pair of meat-cleaver-looking swords chained to your arms that catch on fire as you whip them around the room. His personality and design encourage playing him in the meanest, most brutal manner imaginable, innocent bystanders be damned.

The Combat

Like Soul Calibur, it has a horizontal attack, vertical attack, and a guard button. Tapping "guard" right when an enemy attacks gives you a guard break that triggers a counter move to knock your enemy on its ass. When an enemy becomes weak, an icon appears over its head giving you the opportunity to attempt a fatality. The fatality, depending on the enemy, is accomplished by hitting buttons as they appear on the screen, doing controller rotations, or just jamming a button rapidly to overpower the enemy. Fatalities almost always give you extra powerup orbs or health or magic. You also pick up Magic Spells of the Gods that do heavy damage but use up your magic meter. Very few enemies fill your magic meter and the treasure chests filled with magic become fewer and fewer as the game progresses, so it's best to save up for emergencies.

Enemies are as smart and tough as those seen in any other game of its type. Some have you dodging and rolling constantly to avoid crushing battering-ram blows, some have you blocking and countering incredible flurries of attacks, and some have you running after them just to catch them and tear them in two. One unique part of this game is that if you dodge right while an enemy begins the wind up for its attack, it'll adjust its aim and still hit you. You must dodge or block the instant the enemy is going to hit.

What all these mechanics result in is some of the most horrifically awesomely violent action ever seen in a video game. Enemies get flung in every directions by your white-hot blazing chain-swords. You'll catch airborne enemies bionic-commando-style and slam them back into the ground. You'll climb up monsters five times your size and gut them from throat to belly. You'll grab harpies and tear their wings off. You'll impale undead soldiers on their own weapons. You'll overpower giant beasts and shove your sword down their throat (complete with choking sound effects) then jerk it around their skull. And if you're good, you'll earn massive amounts of extra orbs by stringing literally hundreds of hits together in single combos.

The Other Stuff

Fussbett says: On the demo disc is a weird plea from the developer, masquerading as a "behind the scenes" video. It kicks off with the designer saying that the game will have great sales, and ends with the designer begging me to "get behind the game" and lend the demo disc to my friends to work up the buzz. Just like anyone else, I like to help out SCEA as much as I can (when I'm not handing out flyers to advertise local punk bands and my indie music zine) but beyond this warm review, they can't expect any more out of me. Goddamn bloodsuckers. Unless they send me stickers!
Platforming, jump puzzles, wallclimbing, plank-walking, crate-shoving, lever-pulling, rapelling, and other elements lifted from Prince of Persia. (No wallrunning.) Puzzles never get more complicated than the average Legend of Zelda game. The game mitigates the frustration of the instadeath puzzles by having a checkpoint immediately before each puzzle. The, "Shit, you're dead" effect is quick and you restart at the check point with no load time.

Technical Stuff

One of the most well-programed games I've ever seen on the system. The graphics would be top-notch for an X-box game and frame rates run at a constant 60 fps. All this, and the in-game loading never takes longer than 5 seconds. Animations for every single enemy are silky-smooth. Environments are gigantic and the camera loves going for panoramic sweeps as you run from one location to the other. Expect to be tearing your way through enemies with breathtaking combat vistas going on in the background as you fight. You might even get killed on a few of the game's jump puzzles because of looking away to see what's going on in the background. This game probably has the least camera troubles of any game in its genre, though a few do still crop up.

Playing as Kratos

The first level is a tutorial of sorts giving you easy enemies, and introduction to the platforming and puzzling, and ends with an incredible boss fight. The minute level 2 starts up the training wheels come off and the combat proper begins. Puzzles are few and are mostly an excuse for why you're traveling to and from certain areas.

Mid-game you begin gaining more moves, learn the guard-break moves, and pick up some more magic to mix things up in combat. The game responds by throwing new enemies at you that would have been bosses in games a few years ago. Puzzles become more common and the game settles into a rhythm of combat enounter, then a puzzle, then combat, then a puzzle, etc. Several times the game fakes you out by seeming to get ready to throw a boss at you... then doesn't. But when the game finally does throw a giant boss at you it doesn't disappoint.

By endgame, your weapons and spells are getting powered to the max. You've gotten so good at the game that winning combat encounters is no longer an uncertainty. The game responds by throwing giant hordes of enemies at you. Sometimes they keep coming in so many waves you might think they're endless and you need to solve another puzzle to stop the onslaught. Clever block and lever puzzles become less frequent, replaced by more and more instadeath plank-walking and jump puzzles. It's clear by the end that the level designers are running out of ideas when they literally throw you into jump-puzzle hell. But then the final boss battle the whole game has been promising happens and it does not dissapoint. It's one of the most epic fights in any video game and you'll likely find yourself screaming at the TV as you pound the buttons to overpower Ares. The final ending suprise is very satisfying.


You unlock "god mode" and some "making of" videos. There's a goofy "challenge of the gods" thing you can beat to unlock alternate costumes. At first glance, the only difference between this god mode and the regular game is that enemies do a LOT more damage when they hit you.


Devil May Cry 3 is this game's only competition, and I would only recommend that game over this one if you're allergic to jump-puzzles or want months of replay value. It took 'til the end of its lifetime, but the PS2 finally has its own Halo/Metroid Prime, and it's better than either of them.


The Holy Goat of Power