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Perhaps the best 'one-two' punch in videogame history?
on March 3, 2014
This review is broken up into two parts. The first part is dedicated to God of War I, while the second part is about God of War II.
I need to preface this review by saying I've played several of the other God of War games, before playing this one. In fact, I've played all of them except GOW II. The game started off as an amazing 5 star game! Towards the middle, it took a bit of a nose dive for me, but ended on an extremely strong note (as evidenced by my 5 star rating). This is without question the most difficult game I've ever played. Once I stopped whining and decided to step up to the plate (youtube walkthroughs) I was fine and finished the journey.
Combat - I know this is an older title, but DAMN the combat is slick! It may be just me, but it seems like the camera is closer to the action than in some of the later GOW games I've played. Kratos appears huge while fighting onscreen, as opposed to having to squint your eyes just to locate him (this was a problem in Ascension). The combos were very easy to execute, and that's saying a lot because I usually suck in that area. I'm normally not that great at blocking incoming attacks, but for whatever reason, I was able to throughout the game. I know this is considered a hack n slash game, but if you're the button mashing type of gamer, you won't have much luck. You'll have to incorporate dodging and blocking into your combat, or prepare to die a ton :-)
Weaponry - Technically, Kratos only has two weapons. You'll start off with the blades of chaos (I finally learned the name of those things after 5 GOW games). Later on, you'll acquire a huge sword (my favorite of the two). I didn't mind having only 2 weapons because some games tend to overwhelm you with options, with some of them going unused. I'm not sure if I count magic attacks as weapons, but you'll have 4 completely different ones to use. Hades' souls, Medusa's stone gaze, Zeus' bolts of lightening, and Poseidon's area attack.
Enemies - I was pleasantly surprised by the diverse enemy variety, because I wasn't expecting it. When I think of older action games from the PS2 era, I think of repetitive gameplay that features they same enemies over and over, so I was very surprised. Although some of them are quite difficult to defeat, I always felt like I had a chance. Interestingly enough, there were only 3 boss battles. And, all 3 actually FELT like boss battles and were epic in their own right. The final battle (broken up into 3 parts) pretty much sealed the deal and catapulted God of War into that 5 star territory. I'd say it's easily one of the more epic battles I've been involved in. Hell, it was so intense that I was sweatintg bullets and had to take a shower afterwards!
Miscellaneous - Here's where I'll discuss a few of my gripes. Remember me mentioning how the game sucked once I reached the halfway point? Well, that's largely due to the absence of autosave and inconveniently placed save points. There are several puzzles in this game! In my opinion, a save point should have been placed right before each puzzle. If you're the type of gamer that has the bandwidth to sit in front of your tv until you solve a puzzle, then you'll be just fine. However, if you're only able to play an hour here, or 30 minutes there, (like me) you're in some trouble! If you turn the game off before finishing some of those puzzles, you'll be met with a surprise when you start up your next gaming session. You will have to start at the last save point, which may place you at that group of enemies you barely got past the first time (before the puzzle, of course). I believe it took me about 14 hours to complete the game. Please keep in mind this includes me dying a lot, and using more youtube walkthroughs than I'd care to mention.
I'd normally deduct a star or two for these types of inefficiencies (see my prototype review). But, I'll give this game a break for two reasons. The first being; it's a PS2 game so what the hell should I expect? The second reason being; this is too special of a game and experience to give it anything less than 5 stars. If you're a fan of action games (and haven't played this) and you're thinking about moving on to the PS4, please give this a whirl. I know it's old, but the updated graphics look great and this is one of those games you'll never forget. Wait, one more thing... I only used walkthtoughs for some of the puzzles and stuff like that. I've NEVER used one to aide me in combat. My Amazon street-cred is important, so I want to make sure there's no confusion.
God of War II Review
So, in a few days I'll be sun-setting my PS3 for good (in favor of the PS4, of course). I wanted to make sure I went out with a `BANG'. It just so happened that I played all of the God of War games except the second. Would this be a classic case of saving the best for last?
Combat - The combat is really the same in all of the God of War games. I can't say I enjoyed this combat any more or less than the previous GOW games I've played. If for some reason, you're new to the GOW series, the combat is mostly melee attacks, with some magic attacks sprinkled in to give you other options. There are 4 magic attacks in all, but I only gave a damn about two of them. I mostly used the earthquake one!!! That's the best and most useful magic attack I've seen in quite some time. I also like the bow and arrow for range attacks. One of the other magic attacks (the Medusa/Euryale head) seems to appear in every damn God of War that I've played, and I've yet to use it... I don't remember what the 4th one was, which means I must have not liked it very much.
Weaponry - In my opinion, the best choice of weapons reside in GOW II! The main weapon (the blades of Athena) are in every game, so nothing new there. The secondary weapons are what help make this game shine. Along your journey, you'll acquire a hammer, a spear, and a sword. The hammer is big and slow (as to be expected) but it delivers a massive blow, if you're able to connect. Since the hammer is kind of slow, you may get hit before you're able to deliver your blow. You'll use the sword for a bit in the beginning of the game, and you'll be forced to use it at the end of the game. Personally, I don't like the sword and would be perfectly fine if it never appeared in any future GOW games again... Now, to the main course! The Spear of Destiny was nothing short of amazing! Hell, I could argue that I enjoyed using that more so than I did the Blades of Athena. I could use it for melee attacks, as well as ranged attacks (kinda). One of the spear attacks shot out a small burst, that could be incorporated in some pretty fun combos.
Enemies - Just like the weaponry, the enemies are the best I've seen in any GOW game. I was very impressed with the variety, as well as the challenge they put up. I felt like I was seeing new enemies every few save points, and I found that to be refreshing. Overall, the best boss battles can be found in GOW III. However, GOW II has a couple of very epic boss battles. I won't give away anything, but one of the bosses is a personal favorite creature of mine, and I think this may be the only videogame it's ever appeared in. Some of the battles are with giants, while other battles are fought with enemies the same size as Kratos, and that makes for a nice mixture.
Miscellaneous - The only negative thing I can think of is probably related to some of the puzzles. A few of the puzzles didn't make much sense at all, and I merely kept trying things until something worked. On the contrary, some of the puzzles were quite clever and well thought out. I'm not sure why, but it took me about 24 hours to complete the game, and that's by far the longest time it's ever taken me to get through a GOW title. Maybe I secretly wanted it to last longer, who knows... When compared to the other games, I didn't die a lot. My only guess is that some of the puzzles (the ones that didn't make much sense) required a lot of my time because I refused to go to YouTube for help. Some Amazon reviewers have stated this is the best GOW game in the series. At the time, I thought they were smoking something. Now that I've completed the game myself, I feel like they're correct in their assessment. The added weapons, better enemy variety, and the mixture of boss types all add up to this being the best GOW game out of the six. I'm very proud to say I closed out my PS3 gaming era with this gem. Knack, you're up next!