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July 10, 2005
God of War - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
23/6/2005SonySCEA Santa Monica1MA15+Medium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
454KBDolby PLIIYesNoNoneYes

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Now that's an awesome enemy.
God of War is a sensational game. Go and buy it. If that opening recommendation isn't enough read on, but I guarantee that if you do play this game you will come to exactly the same conclusion as me. God of War is one of the highlights of this current console generation - no question about it. One word of warning though - this game is bloody. If Quentin Tarantino had made a video game this would have been it.

Once a soldier in the Spartan army, Kratos has been possessed by Ares, God of War, thus becoming the most vicious and infamous warrior in Ancient Greece. Now, driven to the very edge of madness, he is determined to escape his fate. The only way to be released from his servitude is to kill Ares; but to kill a god is no easy task - if he is to succeed he must first find Pandora's Box. Unfortunately for Kratos, the fabled casket is hidden deep within a temple, guarded by traps, puzzles and countless enemies from this world and the next...

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Kratos is just hanging around.
Gods of War could best be described as a platform/action/puzzle game. In fact it's probably fair to say that the game has 'borrowed' elements from games such as Capcom's Devil May Cry and Ubisoft's Prince of Persia put them into a blender and come out with something better, and bloodier, then the sum of its parts. During the game Kratos will have to climb large mountain walls, swing across ropes, balance across ledges, swim through submerged ruins, explore large temples and kill a hell of a lot of enemies.

One of the things that makes God of War so satisfying is the combat system which isn't just your average hack and slash. Kratos' main weapons are two blades attached and fused to each arm by the gods. These blades allow for both short-range and long-range attacks. Take the combat in air, take out a number of enemies at once, and utilize "context sensitive moves". These context sensitive moves are available once you stun an enemy. By pressing the circle button you can grab them and must then follow a series of prompts be it a sequence of button presses, or movement of the analogue stick to take them out permanently. The game also includes a magic system grants the power of gods and monsters: use Medusa’s head to freeze your enemies, strike them with Zeus’ thunderbolt, cut them down with Ares’ blades. Each of Kratos' weapons and magic can be powered up by spending red orbs collected through the levels (see, I told you it borrowed from Devil May Cry!)

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Balancing up high.
As well as fantastic combat God of War also includes plenty of puzzles to solve. Most of these involve locating a lever to open the next area, but it's not as simple as just running around to find it. You may have to put some columns in place to jump a wide chasm, or light up some objects - I won't say too much as it would give it away, but this game includes some of the best puzzle solving in recent year. Another impressive aspect of this title is that besides one or two very brief moments there are no load times in the game while the save points are frequently available.

The bosses in God of War deserve to be discussed in depth as well. The first boss will be encountered within the first hour of game time and is a massive Hydra - a snake that rises up from the ocean. The battle is epic, the first we played the game it took about 30 minutes to defeat the Hydra. It was exhausting, but also tremendous fun at the same time. Not only did he take normal attacks, but also several context sensitive mooment. After this first boss battle however there isn't another boss encounter for a considerable amount of time - something which we found a little disappointing. Still, the last section of the game contains two fantastic bosses, the final one which will takes on several forms before you defeat him. Looking back the lack of boss encounters in the middle section of this game is the one area where the developers could have done a little better.

One fantastic addition on this game is the collection of extras. Before completing the game the developers allow you to access a making-of documentary which runs for about 15 minutes, the credits and the E3 trailer. Complete the game, however and a heap of new options become available including video features about the artwork, a feature about the levels dropped from the final game and a God Mode among other extras. This God mode is a much harder version of the game but there's little doubt you'll be replaying it so this is likely to be your option. Complete the God mode and even more extras are unlocked. It's impressive and even manages to put most big DVD movie releases to shame in the quality of these unlockable extras.

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One of the brilliant puzzles.
Now, we've seen a lot of games here at Future Gamez, certainly well into the hundreds, so we're absolutely confident when we make the following statement: God of War has the best in-game graphics seen to date on the Playstation 2. I say in-game because to be honest I felt that some of the CG could have been a little better, especially some of the scenes that occur in the present time of the game. There are other sections of the CG - those that tell Kratos' history and the Barbarians - that are sensational, but the present time movies can seem a bit ordinary in comparison.

The in-game graphics - which can be seen in the surrounding screenshots - are sensational and include not only some of the best animations and well designed enemies ever, but also best artwork ever seen. It's amazing to see how much detail and thought has gone into the artwork and design of the levels of this game - even right down to the smallest item and vases they all fit into Greek mythology. The game maintains a rock solid frame rate from start to end and although there were a few places where I wish the cameras were a little better, or could be moved manually, they rarely hinder the gameplay.

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Kill him Kratos, kill him!
I guess by now it would come as no surprise to hear that the sound is also second to none. The dialogue is the first rate with an impressive cast or professional actors used. Linda Hunt (Relic, Kindergarten Cop) is the narrator, Terrence 'T.C.' Carson (U-571, Final Destination 2) voices Kratos and there are a host of impressive bit parts as well. Sound effects are also impressive, not only for the immediate effects such as clashing of swords and howls of pain, but also for the ambient effects and distant enemies. God of War's audio is polished off with some of the most brilliant music ever in a video game. In fact, so impressive is the music that you can even buy it on CD in America! If there was an Academy Award for video game audio then God of War would certainly be nominated - hell, it could even compete against motion pictures!

God of War can be summed up in one word - stunning. Without a doubt this is one of the greatest titles ever released on the Playstation 2. Every single technical aspect such as sound and graphics are among the best on the system but more importantly the gameplay is engrossing. This is an essential purchase. Stunning.

Review By: Dave Warner

Order your copy now from Amazon (NTSC Version) or Games Warehouse (PAL Version)
GRAPHICSWithout a doubt the best in-game graphics ever on PS2. CG is mixed.
SOUNDThe speech, music and effects are all simply stunning. Second to none.
GAMEPLAYGod of War blends action, puzzles and platforming perfectly.
VALUE15 hours to complete, then god mode - superb extras to unlock.
OVERALLGod of War is easily one of the best Playstation 2 game of all time. The game combines action with platforming and puzzles perfectly to create a stunning blend of genres. This is a no brainer - just buy it.

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