Gamestyle Archive Intro: Usman takes us through the first release in what would become a classic franchise for the PlayStation 2. Hugely popular at the time, God of War went down exceptionally well at Gamestyle Towers receiving a 9, which is about as good as it gets. This review dates from the summer of 2005.
Breasts. Yes, breasts. That dubious BMX release, The Getaway, The Guy Game; they’ve all used bare boobies to catch the attention of the male-dominated gaming market. They were also all crap. They used female chests in the same way a game can use a movie license, and we all know where that can lead.
God of War has bare breasts on a small number of occasions; hell, one time you even get a mini game where you get rewarded if you pleasure two women at once! Yet God of War has broken away from the nudity curse; it is an epic from start to finish and, aside from a few frustrating moments, it’s a ‘pleasure’ all the way through. The game takes its foundation on Greek mythology, and it carries this off surprisingly well to provide an atmosphere and world that’s both faithful to its setting and yet not lacking in flair or imagination.
You play a warrior of the Gods, Kratos, whose story in the game is revealed piece by piece in an enticing manner which doesn’t get in the way of the action, yet holds the interest of the player. His journey takes you across a seamless set of locations which mesh together beautifully. There is no noticeable loading which is a ‘godsend’ in this day and age and, bar the boat at the start, the game feels like one huge level. It can be compared to Devil May Cry in gameplay terms due to the vantage point of the combat and the combos that can be racked up; but God of War is a lot more close-up and ultimately brutal; you can approach your enemies, grab them and rip them in half by tearing their torsos apart. In fact when you see fear-stricken humans running about, cold old Kratos can stab them several times while holding them up to gain extra life.
The game reeks “oomph” when you pull off these execution moves and, with the more difficult enemies and bosses, QTE button prompts will mean very visually entertaining ends to the foes you fight. While you begin the game with few moves, more become available, as well as a limited range of magic by collecting red orbs (sound familiar, Dante?). While there is no huge range of weapons (just the two), you always get your upgrades just when you need them. Regardless, by no means will you spend time in the menu upgrading or learning the moves; the game, aside from a few puzzle sections, is non stop nosebleed action. You’ll be using the same moves a lot and fighting the same enemies, but it does not become repetitive. So let’s see: not many weapons, not much variety, and it’s not very long either (the longest it will take you is 10 hours). Oh, and there are one or two moments which will have you tearing your hair out with frustration. And yet, it is probably the most memorable game that Gamestyle played this year. Why? It’s how God of War is presented and the atmosphere it poses that makes this game so much fun… and a jaw dropper to boot.
The score could easily be mistaken for one of a Hollywood epic and the game itself looks amazing on the ageing PS2; if you get hold of the import version, and you have the appropriate display means, you can even play the game in progressive scan. Yet, aside from that, you have widescreen and surround sound options to pay homage to the grandeur of God of War. The scale of the locations is breathtaking. At one time you’ll be walking down the path of a burning Athens, and you’ll see such a huge battle taking place in the background that you’ll probably stop to gawp at it. And the first time you find out where “Panadora’s temple” is will actually have you smiling. The cut scenes follow the same polished standard and are a joy to watch, but all in all God of War is like a tourist attraction simulator with a great action game thrown in. It’s definitely the former that makes the latter so great. Despite that, there will be times when you’re fighting a score of enemies at once and you’ll rack up a 200-hit combo without taking a hit; you’ll have a huge grin across your face, and if you’re enjoying the game too much you may even throw the controller down and scream in a brutish manly way (not that Gamestyle did of course).
The game remains smooth throughout. There was one time where Gamestyle hit some slowdown, but that was because there was an unprecedented amount of enemies on screen and it didn’t happen again. There were also a few bugs when Gamestyle could hit enemies through walls, but this proved to be an advantage and not something irritating as such. Gamestyle suggests playing the game on Spartan (hard) mode, as normal seems a tad too easy and the game is a lot more fun when it’s challenging – besides, you’ll want to savour every moment and every battle. There’ll be extras when the game is over, which provide another hour or two of entertainment. It’s unlikely that Gamestyle will be returning to play God of War anytime soon, but the memory of it will always stay in our hearts. It is by no means a perfect game, but it is one that simply must be played by every PS2 owner. It’s like that blockbuster movie that you know won’t be too deep or make you think, but nevertheless will be an essential experience to go and see it. Don’t miss out on this at any cost. If you need a bit more convincing, just remember: you get to have a threesome.
Gamestyle Score: 9/10