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Developer:
SCE Studios Santa Monica
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America
Platform: PS2
Release Date: March 13, 2007

by Josh Ferguson




When God of War hit the PlayStation 2 in 2005, the game became an immediate hit, with its great presentation, fun gameplay, gruesome combat, and badass lead character. As great as the original was, there is only one possible way the sequel could go, and thatís down, right? Well, youíll have to read on to find out.


The last time we saw Kratos, he had just defeated Ares and become the new God of War. It is said that Kratos was a far more ruthless God of War than Ares ever was and his lack of obedience toward Zeus had angered the God of Olympus. While I wonít reveal the full storyline, I will say that the game follows Kratos as he travels to meet the Sisters of Fate so that he can alter the one thing no man nor God has ever changed, his fate.


God of War II features an excellent storyline. The game features Kratos, one of the most badass and ruthless characters in the history of gaming, and a bunch of other memorable characters along the way. As Kratos, players will travel to many different and enormous locations and take on a wide variety of enemies along the way. Whether or not this installment of the series is better than the original game is debatable, but if you enjoyed the original storyline, there is little doubt you will have any problems with this. One of the biggest issues concerning the storyline, which really isnít that much of an issue, is that the ending of the game is fairly sudden, and it is obvious that it is supposed to follow directly into a third adventure for Kratos.


Okay now, let's be honest, while the storyline of God of War was great, most people really donít play the game because of that, but instead for the gameplay. Am I right? The combat in God of War II is basically identical to that of the original, but thatís not necessarily a bad thing. In God of War II, Kratos will come across many different weapons including the ever-popular Athenaís Blades, a massive Barbarian Hammer, the Spear of Destiny, and the sword that Zeus used to defeat the Titans, the Blade of Olympus. Each of these weapons can be upgraded to increase the amount of damage that can be dealt out and the number of combos that can be performed using that specific weapon. While the original game had a number of different combos that could be performed, this time around the developers significantly increased that number, so players can dish out even more combos while they rip their enemies to pieces. While it is nice to see an increase in combos, many of which are downright awesome, the fact of the matter is that most players probably wonít be using too many of these different combos and will stick with the more traditional button-mashing approach. In all honesty, most players will probably find a few different combos that they enjoy or just merely mash the different attack buttons over and over until they kill the enemies. Whether you mash your way through the game or use the different combos, either method works, really, but the thing thatís great about God of War is that even while mashing the buttons, the game feels like so much more. The combat is so fulfilling, with the different weapons, large amounts of brutality, and the different methods of defeating your enemies varying so often, including the context-sensitive attacks (which I will get into later) or merely just slashing your way through your enemies, the game really doesnít even feel like you're simply mashing buttons over and over.


Similar to the original game, God of War II features a number of different enemies that canít be defeated by merely beating repeatedly with your weapons, but instead will need to be killed by performing a context-sensitive attack, which will usually take out an enemy or dish out a great deal of damage. These types of attacks canít be performed on all the enemies and usually arenít available until after you have dished out a significant amount of damage to the enemy. After dealing out enough damage, and if it is possible to perform it on the specific enemy, a circle will appear above that individual's head, and then you will just need to press the different button combinations that appear, whether it be the face buttons or moving the analog stick in a certain direction.


This time around, God of War II features a larger amount of enemies than were present in the original game. Also, many of the enemies from the original game make their return for the sequel, including one character who had been taken out by Kratos in the original. I wonít reveal who it is, but anyone familiar with the original game should get quite a chuckle once they see who Iím talking about. God of War II also features a larger amount of boss battles than were available in the first game. In actuality, I believe there to be about twice the amount that were seen in the first game, and many of which are freakiní awesome.


If you have seen a trailer for the game, then chances are you have some knowledge that God of War II features some griffins and the Pegasus. At certain points found in the game, Kratos will have to ride aboard the Pegasus and battle his way through griffins that are trying to, obviously, take him out. As Kratos, you will basically have to catch up to some of the griffins and use Athenaís Blades to swipe them as they get near. Once the enemy has sustained enough damage, players can then perform the context-sensitive attacks, which consist of Kratos jumping off the back of the Pegasus onto the enemy griffin and basically cutting the wings off, and then diving back on the Pegasus. There arenít too many of these battles found in the game, and they donít last very long, but these are some ways to mix up the gameplay, and they look pretty good too.


Aside from the new weapons that Kratos can possess, there are also some completely new magic powers at his disposal. Sadly, though, a few of the powers are quite a bit similar to those that were seen in the original game, but that still doesnít mean that they arenít fun to use. Similar to the weapons, the magic powers can be leveled up by collecting enough orbs, which will increase the damage and so forth. Kratos will also come across a few different relics while on his journey, including the Icarus Wings, which were originally wanted in the original but never made it, and the Golden Fleece, which if timed right can allow you to block certain enemy attacks and perform a powerful counterattack. These two relics are great additions to the game, and can be quite fun to actually use.


If it was the brutal ruthless combat that you loved so much in the original game, then the sequel shouldnít disappoint. The intense blood and gore of the original game returns for the sequel, and it features some really interesting animations, including one of my personal favorites where Kratos is able to pull off a context-sensitive attack and rip the eye right out of a Cyclopsí head. Some of the killing animations that were around in the original are still here in the sequel, including ripping the head off of Medusa, but there are also a whole lot more animations in this one that look great and are fun to pull off.


Aside from a heavy focus on combat, the original God of War also had elements of platforming and puzzle solving. In the sequel, the game also focuses quite a bit on these two elements, and with the newly acquired Wings of Icarus, there's also quite a bit more platforming to be found in this game. God of War II also features a new platforming technique where Kratos is able to use his chain blades to swing from different locations (think Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones) and climb across ceilings. The puzzle solving, which usually isnít the most difficult to complete, is also back in this installment, and what's there can be fun and works quite well.


Graphically, God of War II is one of the most impressive-looking titles to be found on the PlayStation 2. The game features a wide variety of environments that are not only enormous, but also detailed and look downright amazing. Character models throughout the game are also quite gorgeous, with Kratos and even the enemies looking awesome. Plus, with the increased amount of enemies in God of War II, players will truly be able to appreciate the amount of work that has gone into making each of the game's enemies truly great. As I said earlier, the animations of Kratos look great, are fun to pull off, and have increased since the last game. The game continues to feature a fixed camera, which doesnít give the player any control over the camera views, but this doesnít affect the game at all because the camera is dang near perfect. Rarely will players encounter any sort of camera trouble throughout the adventure. In other words, yeah, God of War II is an impressive-looking game.


The sound department in God of War II is almost as impressive as the graphics department--almost. For the most part, the voice work is top notch, with the voice actor of Kratos and the narrator of the original game both returning to their roles, which both sound great. The only voice that really stands out as kind of flat is Michael Clarke Duncan as Atlas. The actor does have a commanding voice, and you could picture him portraying Atlas, but his voice sounds rather dull and almost boring when he speaks. The soundtrack in the game is equally impressive, and features an epic-like sound that you would hear from a major motion picture. The sound effects throughout the game are also great, whether it be the sound of your chain blades smashing down on your enemies, the collapsing of rocks, the screams of dying soldiers, and so forth.


Once you finish God of War II, whatís left to do? Well, similar to the original God of War, the sequel has several difficulty levels that players can go through. Some of these difficulty levels can be ridiculously hard, and chances are it is going to take players a lot of time and effort to actually complete these. Aside from other difficulty levels, the game allows players to unlock other costumes for Kratos. There are a few different costumes, with my personal favorite being the Cod of War outfit, which is unlocked by merely beating the game, and shows Kratos in a large fish costume.. Heh.. He looks so intimidating that it is hard not to laugh. Similar to the original, the game also features a sort of coliseum where players go through and try to defeat different levels of enemies. Aside from that, players can go back and watch all the different videos that they originally viewed throughout the game. This is nice, seeing as how cool some of these videos really are. Something else included with God of War II is an entire DVD that features trailers and other videos about the development of the game. Die-hard God of War fans should really enjoy watching some of the creative minds behind the game, and seeing as how this is included for free, you canít really complain.


Not only is God of War II one of the best titles to be released for the PlayStation 2, but to be released for any console in a long time. If you own a PlayStation 2 or a PlayStation 3, then there is no reason that you should not add this to your collection. God of War II is an amazing game and has everything from great graphics and great sound, to fun combat and an exciting story that make this one of the most epic titles in a long time.


Final Grade: 94%




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