Like many of the best of the PS2 era, God of War I & II are games that I’m embarrassed not to have played until now.
Upon completion, my first response was to be dismissive, to disparage the titles. I wanted to call them simply a violent Zelda with tits, the video game versions of a 1980s R-rated action flick, gratuitous strip club scene included. These games not only go over the edge of gore and T&A, they revel in it.
Then I realized, that’s the beauty of the series. God of War (here I’m referring to the series as a whole) takes the greatness and exaggeration of the mythology on which it’s based and goes nuts. Everything is big: the battles, the bosses, the characters, the swords, and the breasts. Nothing is subtle here, even the majority of Krato’s speaking parts are yelled out, and when not hampered down by camera issues and suspension-breaking platformer challenges, it all works.
When I play a game, the most evil you’ll see me ever take a character is maybe somewhere just shy of ne’er-do-well. I’ve admittedly got some sort of over-empathy thing going on, as just playing the role of an evil person makes me feel bad, and I find it unenjoyable. Now while Kratos isn’t evil, per say, he does have some serious issues, and there were a few points here and there that were just not fun to play (the man in the cage, for example).
Hmm, the whole game morality issue is a discussion in itself, so for now I’m just putting it out there that I found some of the situations off-putting.
The sequel, expanding on the bigger and badder of the series, takes the Kratos is a dick thing even further, although I’ll admit that battling mythological heroes was a blast. The Perseus fight, with its Harry Hamlin plucked straight out of Titans, was one of the highlights of the game.
Plus/Minus, God of War:
+ Holy crap this feels epic.
+ He’s a dick, but Kratos does seem legitimately badass.
+ Character designs and level architecture are a lot of fun.
+ Gives the player a bit more life each time a checkpoint is reattempted. Nice.
– Camera is maddening, flip-flopping at the worst times and creating difficult angles of control.
– Platformer puzzles without the platformer control. Ugh.
– Overly complex controls, could’ve done more with less.
– Quicktime events: not a fan.
Final grade: B-
Plus/Minus, God of War II:
+ The good points from above. More epic!
+ Colossus battle: hell of a way to start the game!
+ Controls felt much better in the platforming bits.
+ Impressive ending cinematic has me excited for the sequel.
– Fodder battles became tedious.
– Quicktime events: still not a fan.
Final grade: B