SCEA God of War II
Twice as epic
- It's brilliant
- Hasn't created world peace
Suffice it to say, no review can truly capture the magnificence of God of War II. There are memorable moments galore, the kind that you'll try in vain to describe to your friends but words can't fully do justice to this game. God of War II's sole imperfection is that its graphics remain relatively unchanged from the original, but at the end of the day this is an insignificant pimple on the face of this goliath of a game.
Price$ 29.95 (AUD)
How do you top what many gamers consider the greatest action game of all time? You definitely can't do it with a whimper — for a game as beloved as God of War, you've got to come out with a bang, one that's equivalent to a ton of dynamite sitting atop a tanker truck full of nitro-glycerine.
But the folks in charge of the GoW franchise know a thing or two about putting together a top-notch action game, and from the moment you take control of everyone's favorite bald deity, there's no doubt that this sequel has what it takes to not only reach the bar set by its predecessor but to leap over it in every way.
Twice as Epic as the Original
Take the opening sequence, for example: You've no doubt seen screenshots or video footage of Kratos going toe-to-toe with a Statue of Liberty sized Colossus. The first thirty minutes alone packs more punch than the Incredible Hulk, and in a lesser game, would have served as an incredible end note. The fact that the developers chose to open the game with such a memorable fight is one thing, but what's truly impressive is that they manage to keep the momentum going throughout the game.
Unlike the first title, which was sometimes repetitive and featured some frustrating puzzles, GoW II is a seamless experience, all wheat and no chaff. Sony has made it virtually impossible for you to put the controller down as you will be doing something completely different every ten minutes or so. One of the strengths of the series lies in the tight pacing of the action — just when you think you've seen it all, the developers find a way to surprise you. That's no different in GoW II, where the action never gets stale or old thanks to the return of the superlative storytelling and thoughtful pacing.
Brains and Brawn
And it's that sense of storytelling that is the true strength of both God of War titles. The eye-popping finishing moves, the whirling dervish combos and the stunning magic powers are all well and good but it was the story of Kratos' tragic fall and brutal ascension to the peaks of Mount Olympus that made the original God of War so memorable. The presentation was where the game truly shined and had it been missing, the visceral action would have been enough to carry the game, but only to a point. Truly, it was the marriage of the epic story and the balls-to-the-walls action that made God of War stand out from the countless other titles that had come before and have come since its release.
Series guru David Jaffe was not behind the steering wheel for this second instalment — he's rumored to be working on a next-gen GoW for the PS3 — but the delicate interplay between narrative storytelling and action is maintained here, and the tension between the two is just right. The last thing I want to do is spoil the game's story for anyone who is even considering playing this game, because it is something that must be experienced first-hand, but suffice it to say that Kratos once again faces a series of trials and must once again climb the tallest of mountains, if not physically then metaphorically.
Meat And Potatoes
Helping you in your Herculean journey is a slew of new weapons and moves. The familiar Blades of Chaos — which morphed into Athena's Blades at the conclusion of the first game — are back as your main implements of choice but you will eventually come to wield such weapons as the Barbarian's Hammer, a meat mallet that's as big as Kratos, and the Spear of Destiny, which is used for mopping up an entire area of enemies with its wide range.
Each weapon in the game can be upgraded to unlock more vicious attacks that Kratos can execute and there are a number of ancillary items at his disposal; these include Jason's Golden Fleece, which deflects magical attacks and sends them back towards the enemy that cast it, and the Amulet of the Fates, which slows time down to a bullet-time crawl.
Kratos' has learned quite a few new violent attacks since the last game, including the Cyclone of Chaos, where he whips his Athena's Blades through the air, ripping the surrounding enemies to shreds. And if you're only sparring with a single enemy, you can grind them into dust with one of Kratos' fastest attacks, the Rampage of the Furies. Not brutal enough? Well, there's something in this game for even the most sadistic gamer, such as one move where you can grab an airborne enemy and repeatedly bounce their body off the ground.
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