God of War II Hands-On

We slice through walls of Spartan flesh in our look at the latest playable demo of God of War II.

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Kratos just can't catch a break. You'd think after killing Ares, earning the wrath of the gods, attempting to kill himself, and ascending the throne as the next God of War, the guy would get a chance to take a breath, sharpen his magical blades, and, you know, kick it with some wenches. No such luck. Not long after the updated God of War II demo that landed on our desk today opens up, Kratos finds himself in the city of Rhodes duking it out with one of the seven ancient wonders of the world. But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Let's back it up a bit first.

If you haven't played the original God of War--and shame on you, if so--then you missed one of the biggest, most satisfying action games on the PlayStation 2. The original game followed the extraordinary antics of the Spartan warrior Kratos as he goes about battling multiheaded hydras and searching out the mythical Pandora's box to do final battle with the aforementioned God of War, Ares. What made the original game so fun wasn't just its exotic setting sourced straight from Greek mythology but also the favorable controls, incredible graphics, and absolutely relentless action. We still don't have the entire picture of what the follow-up will offer, but based on the demo, we can safely say that all the above ingredients are still here in force.

The God of War II demo opens with Kratos atop his throne, watching as his fellow Spartans destroy city after city. The goddess Athena, outraged by the Spartans' actions, appeals to Kratos to end the pillaging and reminds him that it was she who was responsible for his lofty place in Olympus. But Kratos will have none of it and, in typical fashion, decides it's time to get a little hands-on time back on Earth. Transporting himself to the ancient Greek city of Rhodes, he immediately begins taking out his wrath on the ancient city, smashing buildings and crushing soldiers with his godlike size and power. Athena, petulant in a way only Greek gods can be, takes her revenge on Kratos by shrinking him back down to human size and animating the Colossus of Rhodes, a massive ancient statue that once stood at the harbor entrance to the city. Needless to say, the Colossus has it in for Kratos.

The battle between Kratos and the massive Colossus forms the centerpiece around which the God of War II demo moves. Though Kratos does slice his way through many footsoldiers, these only serve as rest stops in between the larger battles with the statue, each of which has mechanics and thrills all its own. For example, in an early confrontation, you're battling the Colossus in an outdoor courtyard. As if an unending stream of soldiers to deal with weren't a big enough problem, you have to keep Kratos out of the way of the Colossus' punishing blows. By hitting the Colossus' fists with your weapon, you can temporarily stun him. It isn't long before you notice a massive ballista (think of it as a slingshot that shoots boulders), which you can access by pressing the R1 button. Your first shot is blocked by the Colossus, but if you manage to stun him, you can load Kratos into the ballista, firing the Spartan on top of the Colossus where you can get up close and personal.

Here you can enjoy some nice contextual combat; as Kratos swings and slides around the Colossus' head, ripping and slicing all the while, button icons appear on the screen. To continue the rampage, you merely have to press the associated button on the PS2 controller. If you press the wrong button, you'll have to start all over again.

But because this statue is hundreds of feet tall, the battle isn't over after one fight. After getting through the first fight, the Colossus hurls Kratos to an entirely different section of the city where he winds up in an underground pool. It's one of the nice things about the demo; you're never doing one thing for too long. One minute you're slugging it out with the statue, the next you're winding your way through underground halls, cracking heads left and right. There is even some light puzzle-solving as well, such as dealing with pressure-sensitive gate mechanisms. Thankfully, it's not too hard on the brain, so you're never too far from your next bloody encounter.

From a mechanics standpoint, the God of War II demo feels much like the original game. Kratos' light and heavy attacks with his dual blades are tied to the square and triangle buttons, respectively. And you can "grab 'n stab" with the circle button. The L2 button sets off Kratos' magical attacks, which you can intensify by pressing the circle button rapidly. The L1 button blocks incoming attacks. Pressing the X button will make Kratos jump, and you can double jump by pressing the button twice. You can swing from ledge to ledge by pressing the R1 button and access Kratos' special attacks by holding down the R2 button and one of the face buttons. As Kratos, you will have to keep an eye on not only your health but also your mana bar; if you use your magic attacks too much, you'll run out of mana.

We'll admit it, we've got a little bit of a man-crush on Kratos. He's just so decisive.

Fans of the series will also delight in God of War II's graphics, which are every bit as epic and detailed as the first game. The sense of scale between Kratos, the Colossus, and the city in which they are fighting is impressive. For example, we loved the first fight in the game. As Kratos mows down hordes of enemy soldiers, you can see the Colossus peeking through the window, watching the action and occasionally pounding on the side of the building. Except for a few hitches during close-up battles with the massive statue, the frame rate held steady throughout the demo. The visuals were accompanied with a stirring soundtrack and the sounds of combat, punctuated by Kratos' fierce battle cries, which really brought the relentless action to life.

Though the Colossus fight was an intense one, we'll have to wait for the final game to see how it turns out because the demo ended before we were given a chance to deal a final blow. Nonetheless, if the action in the demo is any indication, God of War II looks to be quite the thrill ride. Kratos' adventures will continue on March 13, when the game is due to ship. In the meantime, we'll keep you up to date on the game's progress--so stay tuned.

Discussion

242 comments
chimera_maz
chimera_maz

this game is cool and wenderfol and have boshen and movmant more than another game , bat this game have a stratige between 2 word becose that its a antelegant betwen the gad and huomanete

Obli
Obli

A demo on PS3 Store would be good - I'd check it out for sure. Never played GOW

nkaiton
nkaiton

Further proof that last-gen isn't dead quite yet. Imagine how awesome GOW3 will be on PS3?

xjpz123
xjpz123

This game is going to be the best game ever made for the ps2 cant wait to get it !!!!

indian_boy90
indian_boy90

i just hope there won't be any nudity.... i could hardly play GoW 1 cuz of some of the "adult content" appearing when my parents were in the room (we got only 1 tv in the living room.... too bad i couldn't plug the console into the PC monitors.... then i'd have no problems!)

gollum007
gollum007

this game is so effin sweet i cant wait to gorge out cyclop eyes and tear wings off of birds and throw them like they're nothing! this is the game ive been waiting for for about a year.

smith447
smith447

Awesome, but i hope they add some new moves, and I'm sure they'll add some new magical powers...

andyatuc
andyatuc

I bought GoW a few weeks ago and beat it on the easiest setting and now I can't wait to play the sequel! I still need some practice though and hope to beat the new game as soon as possible.

jabifl
jabifl

As many have said this game is going to put Sony back on the map. Not only will it boost Moral but it will also give the consumers a sense of anticipation for the PS3. Maybe the PS3 will not be such a downfall as predicted due to the release of this game (Even though it is for the PS2). I'm highly anticipating this game and will be purchasing it the day of its release. I'd have to rate this, based on commercial review and video game play, a 10 out of 10.

jabifl
jabifl

As many have said this game is going to put Sony back on the map. Not only will it boost Moral but it will also give the consumers a sense of anticipation for the PS3. Maybe the PS3 will not be such a downfall as predicted due to the release of this game (Even though it is for the PS2). I'm highly anticipating this game and will be purchasing it the day of its release. I'd have to rate this, based on commercial review and video game play, a 10 out of 10.

sam321
sam321

this will be this year's best game on the PS2, especially as the PS3 will be taking over soon. the PS2 IMO is the greatest ever console, it has run for several years now and is STILL going strong. it will take some time and effort before a title of the overall quality of god of war I and II is brought to the next generation.

gustavolq
gustavolq

If this game brings an epic soundtrack just as the first had, it'll deserve at least 9.0!!! I love the series!

horpa
horpa

I wanna play this game!!!!!!

Rodrigo725
Rodrigo725

hehhee man i just can't wait to play this game

rijnie
rijnie

playstation rulezz

LexLas
LexLas

This is the most promising game of the year so far in my opinion. I can't wait for my reserve to get here. I am gonna make a party when the game arrives, call everyone and have chips and salsa like the supper bowl, this game we've been expecting for a while now. I just wonder, will I need the strategy guide ? I think I will buy it just incase. It's only days away !

codematers
codematers

I Have to play God of war II, if I don't play I'll just cry myself to sleep until it comes out,why does it have to come out in march.

oumir
oumir

I CAN'T WAIT! i have per ordered that game and still i can't wait and i want to see this baby in action! and for all you people out there it will be one of the best games of all gaming history!

federico06
federico06

It' will be surely one of the best games of all gaming history, can't wait to play

timpisingh
timpisingh

i can wait 4 destory 4 all level's

timpisingh
timpisingh

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

DUBSlifer
DUBSlifer

God Of War II is going to be absolutely awesome. It will be the best game on PS2. I can't wait to play it. P.S. Is the Demo coming out in Europe (PAL)

markd751
markd751

this is going to be the game of the year hands down

TheDarknessO_O
TheDarknessO_O

God of War 2 is seemingly outstanding, but the thing they should do is make it also for the PS3 to make it fair for both people with PS2's and PS3's. Making is beneficial. But man..............the ripping apart the flesh of his enemies has surfaced yet again...mmm ;)

angelbless
angelbless

GOD OF WAR 2 could be the LAST Great title, that arrives for our almost -dead PS2...

Goku2639
Goku2639

it looks good. funny tho if it isnt better than god of war 1 when it is released

TheBuck27
TheBuck27

I'm more excited about God of War 2 than I have been for any Next Gen game yet. The first one was so incredible it's going to be tough to top it, but it looks like they will!

DaredevilFan
DaredevilFan

Yeah i cant wait. God of War is another reason that makes me proud to own a PS2.

pyromofo
pyromofo

tight. god of war is an awesome game

mazniq
mazniq

GOW2 is the reason, PS2 is still more purchased than the other next-gen consoles.

HXCDEW
HXCDEW

This is simply the best action game ever! PS2 is still kicking ass.

barhoum
barhoum

it amazing games but now i still wait this game & really i cant wait ......

crossdx
crossdx

Sounds like I'll be spending many hours holed up with my old PS2 when the game finally ships. Saw the new trailer recently, and dang it's looking awesome.

nadzero
nadzero

damn this is gona be one hell of a game.. i remembr the 1st one i love it and still play it .. good game should be amazin (Y)

god_of_shawn
god_of_shawn

Its not going to release for the xbox 360...this game is owned my sony.. -.-

Iamspy
Iamspy

do you think theyll realease the game for the 360? my ps2 is lost in the ravages of my closet, along with my xbowx nintendo atari sega genisis

riverdragon13
riverdragon13

Actually SCEA came out and said the game won't be in 720p but in 480p on the PS3. Which sucks but is not going to keep me from playing the hell out of this game. This is turning into probably the best year for gaming ever, that is if Assassin's Creed, GWAR II, GTA 4, Killzone 2, Halo 3, Mass Effect, UT3, Bioshock, Alan Wake, Metal Gear Solid 4, C&C 3, Lair, Alone in The Dark all deliver, hell if only a few of those deliver then this is going to be incredible. 50 pound weight gain incredible!

furqan2006
furqan2006

i am going to play it three times

furqan2006
furqan2006

that's my number one game for 2007. It's just as good or even better game than any on next gen consoles.

sponny1
sponny1

hey all i can say is that freinds will be owndering where ive been this few days...well i know where im gonna be stuck with hell they wont be seeing me for a week or two causei ll be stuck at home eating pizza,,can driks,nachos,tibits,sleeping,and most of them all GOW2!!!!!!!! well im should get good enough in my wired connected CPU,XBOX360,PS3,PS2 andComputer/HD TV screen ugh my xbox well it think its somewhere "keep for the time being" if u know what i mean...

Gamefisher86
Gamefisher86

oh great! now I have to spend another week inside my house playing this new game!!!! lol damn it sony stop making great games!!!!!! I want to go outside!!!! lol

sunspider13
sunspider13

Already have paid full price for my pre-order for GoWII, just have to walk into the store and take it home. People won't see me for a couple of days.

TimoTheThug
TimoTheThug

well Olberto can you please give some explenation to that bold statement? I guess you are one of those 5 people in the whole wide world which thinks that GOWII sucks on the graphical side .......