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May 3, 2007
God of War 2 - PS2 Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
3/5/2007SonySCEA Santa Monica1MA15+Medium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
525KBDolby PLIIYesNoNoneYes

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Yep, this is God of War!
How do you top near perfection? That is the question that the development team at Sony's Santa Monica Studio faced when developing the sequel to the superlative God of War which we awarded 95% overall, and which averages 93.2% on Gamerankings from over 100 reviews! With David Jaffe not working on the project the reigns were handed over to newcomer Cory Barlog. Fear not though, as we can tell you right now that Cory has led his team to one of the most, if not the most, impressive PS2 games of all time.

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Better get those archers quick!
The story in this sequel continues on that from the first (although it's not essential to have played the original as this game recaps what happened). God of War saw Kratos, a mortal warrior, set up an epic quest to dethrone a god and become one himself. But his journey did not end there. In God of War II Kratos sits atop his Olympus throne, as the new God of War - far more ruthless then Ares ever was. To end his continued torment, Kratos must journey to the far reaches of the earth and defeat untold warriors and alter that which no mortal or god has ever changed, his fate.

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See the Colossus outside?
The game opens with a stunningly massive battle against the Colossus of Rhodes, a giant who is set to destroy you. Not only is the Colossus out to destroy you, but pretty much anything else, buildings or enemies they're all in trouble here. Indeed this opening level takes place in multiple locations and as well as directly attacking the Colossus with Kratos' standard weapon, the Blades of Athena, you will need to press sequences of buttons, or rotate the analogue stick as soon as the icons appear on screen. It's fantastic, fast, fluid and certainly requiring your utmost attention to succeed. This boss battle, which cant take well over 30 minutes to pass, is only one of many throughout the game.

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Kratos inflicts some pain!
As you have seen God of War 2 remains a third person platform title with the gameplay firmly focused on hack and slash action. Kratos is initially equipped with the Blades of Athena which allows him to perform many of the moves from the original game. As you progress several more weapons become available including the Hammer of Souls which can summon the dead souls of Hades, the Spear of Destiny, and the Blade of Olympus. Each weapon (and magic detailed below) can be upgraded through the main menu by 'spending' the red orbs which are collected when you defeat an enemy or open the many chests littered around the levels. Speaking of chests there are also chests containing health, magic power, and a power to slow down time for a few moments.

As mentioned there a several magic items available which include the likes of a lightning attack and earthquake while Kratos can also collect three main power ups. The first is the Amulet of the Fates which slows down time for a certain amount of time when in range of a fate statue. The second is the Wings of Icarus which allows Kratos to glide over distances with a set of wings on his back while the third is Golden Fleece which allows the reflection of projectiles and reduces the damage from melee attacks. The latter is essential to defeat some of the more powerful enemies at the end of the game.

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Kratos better start swinging.
Puzzles play a big role in this game and they are some of the best we've seen in a video game for quite some time. These aren't your typical 'find the switch to open the door' type puzzles either. No, these require some thought, but almost every single one has been perfectly developed so the answer is often sitting right in front of you. One such puzzle (small spoiler warning for the remainder of this paragraph) sees you enter a large room with two switches, one in the center of the room, the other behind some spikes in a small room to the left. Each switch opens up half of the bars on an iron gate, but you can't press both at once. Fortunately in a second small room there is a body which can be carried and placed on one switch while you step on another. Unfortunately you don't have time to get from one switch to the open door before it closes again. The body needs to be place on the second switch which is behind some spikes, but you can't jump while carrying a body. Looking around a bit reveals two breakable walls which unveils a river. Dump the body in there, if floats around to the room with switch two which allows you to pick it up and place it on the switch. You can then jump on switch one, and after a couple of quick rolls you'll be through the door. It's brilliant stuff and is littered throughout the entire game.

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Rumble in the jungle...
There really are very few problems with this title. Perhaps my biggest complaint isn't a technical one but just the sensation that we've seen so much of this before. Now you get that with most sequels of course, but because the original was so groundbreaking perhaps my expectations of something equally fresh could never be met. I would have loved to see a bit more variety - certainly more flying sections would have been welcome, as would levels with multiple paths to reach the target. There were also a few occasions when the camera angles really didn't help proceedings. Sometimes it was quite hard to see a switch or a ledge to hang on to, while occasionally your view ahead is obstructed by items in the foreground. It's not gameplay destroying at all, but I would have hoped this could have been refined just a little more. Still, these are small issues in such a brilliant title.

In yet even more great news PAL gamers God of War 2 includes a second bonus disc choc full of behind the scenes development goodness. These include a video diary of production, the trailers released for the game, deleted levels and concepts and much more. The quality is also quite impressive and it's well worth a watch.

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Now that's an enemy!!
Who would have ever thought that the developers could surpass the visuals of the original game in this sequel? We certainly doubted it could be done - but it has. Close up the original game was great, and this sequel looks pretty much the same. Some of the textures may be a bit more detailed, and some areas look a bit better, but it's the scale of this game that impressed us the most. Some of the areas you'll explore and fight in are absolutely massive, while the difference in scale between Kratos and some of the enemies, such as the Colossus of Rhodes is stunning. There is only the rarest of frame rate issues in a game which moves at a blistering pace with plenty of effects throughout. What also must be complemented is the animation, on both Kratos and the enemies. They all look wonderful. To round out the positives God of War 2 also includes a widescreen mode.

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There's plenty of blood.
One area where we did notice a bit of an issue - and it's ever so slight - is that in some of the cut scenes the game seem to drop back to, or have been rendered in, a lower resolution giving edges a blocky look. We're not sure why this occurs but in the 15 or so hour game you're only talking about a couple of minutes of cut scenes with this issue so it's not a big deal, but it's there.

So perhaps the sound will be the letdown in this game? Do you really think so? Of course not. God of War 2 also excels in this part with a wonderful music score composed by Gerard K. Marino and Michael A. Reagan who worked on the original title. The music is epic, and changes pace with the action on screen. Voice acting is also super with Linda Hunt (Relic, Kindergarten Cop) is the narrator in the game and Terrence 'T.C.' Carson (U-571, Final Destination 2) voicing Kratos yet again. Other notable voices are provided by Michael Clarke Duncan as Atlas and Harry Hamlin as Perseus. Effects are also very solid and with THX certification you can be assured of the best quality sound throughout.

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Visual effects are spectacular.
God of War II is a sequel which we a quite pleased to say surpasses the brilliant original. While some aspects may seem too similar to the first there is no doubt that in every area from graphics to gameplay, puzzles to audio the developers have pushed the series, and the system, further then anyone else. While we're all still drooling over our PS3's Sony's Santa Monica Studio has shown that there is still potential, and superb titles, on the PS2. An essential purchase and quite possibly the PS2's finest hour ever.

Review By: Dave Warner

Order your copy now from Gameswarehouse (PAL version).
GRAPHICSOne of the best examples of PS2 technology and just how great games can look - even today!
SOUNDGreat speech, music and effects. This really is the total package.
GAMEPLAYBetter in all areas then the previous game which already rocked. The puzzles in this game are perfectly balanced.
VALUEWhile it's full priced the addition of a bonus DVD, around 12-15 hours gametime (if you're good - more if you're not) and plenty to unlock this is great value.
OVERALLThere's little doubt that this will likely be one of the last, if not the last true 'must have' game on the PS2. God of War 2 is a blast from start to finish and an essential addition to every PS2 collection - even if you have moved to 'next-gen' systems.

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