Thursday, October 18, 2007

A Choice From The Gods Is As Useless As The Gods Themselves

God of War 2

The original God of War was one of the best games of 2005. The gameplay was perfectly executed, delivering a visceral thrill as your avatar, the Spartan warrior Kratos, carved a swathe of death and devastation through a fantacised Ancient Greece swarming with mythological demons. The game was enhanced by hugely epic art direction and a decent story which, while no Planescape: Torment, was a cut above the standard idiotic console game bullshit.

For the sequel the developers have changed exactly nothing. Despite being elevated to godhood at the end of the first instalment, the beginning of God of War 2 sees Kratos stripped of his powers and sets him off on a quest largely similar to the one in his 2005 outing: retrieve a magical artifact in order to slay a pesky deity, simply substituing Zeus for Ares as the villain of the day.

The story leaves much to be desired, in the first game Kratos was an interesting character in a tortured anti-hero kind of way, but in this instalment he does little except shout “ZEUUUUUUUUUUUUUS” and threaten to kill people. The art direction doesn't hold up quite as well either, although only for technological reasons. The last couple of years have seen the release of the next generation of gaming consoles and the creaky old PS2 doesn't look too shit hot any more. Even with these shortcomings it's hard to be unsatisfied with this glorious gameplay. Armed with the experience of the first game the developers have streamlined things still further so that there is never a moment not filled with awesomeness as you run from brutal battle to epic setpiece to cunning puzzle. They've upped the 'epic' aspect to ridiculous heights (as usual Penny Arcade say it well) and the boss battles are all absolutely brilliant, beating out even the high standards of the first games' 'giant cyborg minotaur' setpiece. The penultimate battle with the Fates is just stunning.

There's nothing new to see here but it's executed flawlessly once more. There's been a bit of a shift to style over substance but when something is this fucking stylish there's no reason to complain about that.

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