God of War 2 offers more of what made God of War 1 great and sets the stage perfectly for God of War 3 *True Score=8.7*

User Rating: 8.5 | God of War II PS2
God of War 2 sticks w/ the formula that worked w/ the first game and improves on its greatest weakness from the original, its lack of content. So if you enjoyed the first game, it is likely you will enjoy its sequel. The puzzles/platforming are more complex, there are more bosses, and the game as a whole is much longer. For the most part this is all good, except that it can lead to a lot of frustrating sequences. Therefore, the experience is very rewarding, but not for the faint of heart. And the game ends w/ a bang setting the stage for God of War 3 perfectly.

***Extensive Review, skip to the Conclusion for an overview of the game***

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Game Play 9.0
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Controls (Good)

>> If you played the first game then you are already familiar w/ the layout of the controller, as they didn't change anything. This is nice because it reduces the learning curve and there's really nothing that needs to be changed since the layout is perfect. I really like how you can change spells or weapons on the go. The menus are also easy to navigate (since they are so simple) and the tutorials are great and will continue to remind you of things throughout the game if you don't disable them (which I didn't). The camera shifts automatically depending on where you are and works well also.

Unfortunately, the controls have a very detrimental flaw. This being that in certain situations they are extremely unresponsive. For instance, during most of the combos in this game once you input them you can't cancel out of them until Kratos finishes the move. This is extremely annoying because a large portion of the enemies (especially later) in the game can block or are unaffected by your attacks. And since you can't stop your attacks until your combo is done you can't dodge/block your enemies counter attack. If you're careful you can avoid this, but it is still extremely annoying. Also, the controls can be unresponsive when attempting to open doors or activate boxes using R1. Usually this wouldn't be annoying, except for the fact that in GoW2 they will throw enemies that spawn continuously while you are in the middle of solving a puzzle. It's times like these where you will notice this unresponsiveness in the controls and it can and will get you killed.

Customization (Great)

>> Throughout GoW2 Kratos has a plethora of abilities, magic, weapons, and power ups at his disposal. And this fire power is very necessary because the enemies in GoW2 will not go easy on you. You can upgrade the different types of weapons and magic you get throughout the game using red orbs gained from defeating enemies or from chests. You can also increase your health or magic by finding secret chests in a similar fashion to the heart pieces in Zelda games. This system for leveling up is simple, but effective, and puts more of an emphasis on puzzle solving rather than combat.

Battle System (Great)

>> What makes the combat in GoW2 great is the variety of elements it has. As I just mentioned, you can dispatch your foes in a variety of ways. You can switch magic/weapons on the go w/ the push of the button and when necessary you can go into Rage of the Titans mode for maximum damage. Your trusty blades of chaos are still your bread and butter in this game though. And as you upgrade them you will gain access to more combos and aerial skills (attacks after you launch an enemy into the air). The only problem is that they seemed a little slow this time around and many enemies will anticipate your combos as you are doing them and make you pay (as I mentioned in the controls section).

You can grab most enemies in the game by pressing the "O" button. This is a good thing to keep in mind, because the best way to kill many enemies (especially flying ones) is by simply grabbing them and tearing them in half or throwing them into other non suspecting enemies. And any enemies that you can't grab instantly can usually be grabbed after being weakened. In the case of stronger enemies and bosses this will start a button pushing sequence that if done correctly will finish the enemy off (well, for bosses several of these sequences are usually necessary). This is probably the thing the GoW battle system is the most famous for and is a lot of fun. If your reactions aren't quick enough or if your not paying attention you will be punished for it.

Puzzles & Platforming (Excellent)

>> Almost everything in this game is built around some sort of puzzle solving (I have already alluded to this in the battle system and customization sections). And similar to the Zelda games, even most boss battles play out in at least a semi-puzzle like manner. The puzzles themselves are also very intelligent. Most of them are pretty intuitive, but some of the puzzles can be very difficult and require you to think outside the box. Therefore it is very satisfying once you solve them.

GoW2 contains a lot more platforming than the previous game as well. I personally despise platforming, but those of you who enjoy it will be happy to hear it is executed extremely well. Kratos has the ability to double jump and later in the game gets wings he can use to float even farther. The climbing scenes from the first game are still here as well. Along w/ this are some new scenes such as flying and falling scenes that add great variety to the gameplay.

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Graphics 9.4
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Background & Environment (Excellent)

>> The backdrops are about as good as they can be given the limits of the PS2.

Characters (Great)

>> Though all the graphics in GoW2 push the limits of the PS2, the characters are probably the weak point. This is not a knock on them, just a testament to the quality of the rest of the graphics. And since the camera is usually zoomed out so much you don't really see the details the character do have.

Special Effects (Great)

>> Once again, some of the best the system has to offer, though not as impressive as the backdrops. And though cut scenes are rare, they also look extremely good.

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Sound 9.0
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Music (Good)

>> All of the music in GoW2 is orchestrated very well and helps build the epic nature of the game. Still, I didn't find it as moving or catchy as the music I have heard in other games.

Sound Effects (Excellent)

>> Top notch, there is an extreme attention to detail paid to all the sound effects in this game. All of the sound effects, such as those of spells, attacks, or ripping an enemy in half, are also very satisfying.

Voice Acting (Great)

>> There isn't a whole lot of voice acting in this action title (most of it is in the beginning and end of the game), but it is also done very well. It is not on the same level of newer titles such as Mass Effect and Heavenly Sword, but it gets the job done.

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Story 7.7
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Plot (Good)

>> As the new God of War Kratos was wreaking havoc on the land as the leader and driving force behind the Spartan army. Threatened by Kratos' growing power and influence as a God, Zeus conspires against Kratos and tricks him into draining his power into the Blade of Olympus and then uses it to strike him down. On the verge of death Kratos gains assistance from the most unlikely of allies, the Titans. Now he must venture to find the sisters of fate and go back in time to the point when Zeus struck him down.

The story sequences I just described takes place in the first hour or two of this game, so don't worry, I'm not spoiling anything. Unfortunately, the rest of the story doesn't unfold until the last couple hours of the game. Needless to say this is not a story driven game. However, the ending is very intriguing and includes a couple great plot twists and sets the stage for God of War 3 perfectly.

Characters (Poor)

>> Well, in this game you play as the barbaric Kratos who is probably one of the shallowest characters I have ever encountered. Yes, everything about him just exudes BA, but I grew very tired of him by the end of this game. Kratos is purely bent on revenge and cares for no one but himself. I have not heard one bit of intelligent dialogue come out of his mouth in either game so far, and in this game it really started to wear on me. I found Zeus, Athena, and the Titans to be much deeper and more entertaining than Kratos. And this isn't a ringing endorsement on their characters, just an reminder of how bad Kratos' character is. And since I consider quality characters to be one of the most important things in any game this displeased me greatly, but did not surprise me. This is obviously not the selling point of this game or series.

Writing (Great)

>> As I just said, the dialogue and character development in GoW2 is not the best I have ever seen. However, GoW2 makes up for this in others ways, this being the use of Greek mythology in this game. On your way through the primary story in GoW2 you will encounter many subplots that are straight out of Greek mythology as well. These stories will be familiar to those of you who paid attention in your high school history classes and are fun to encounter again as you progress through the game.

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Value 9.0
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Main Story (Great)

>> The main story in GoW2 takes approximately 20-25 hours to complete. This is a significant improvement over the first game and very good when compared to other games in the Action/Adventure RPG genre.

Sidequests & Secrets (Great)

>> GoW2 is a very linear game, but discovering all the heath, magic, and power up bonus chests is quite the task. GoW2 also has a few challenges you can complete to really test your skills and plenty of unlockable content. If you buy the special 2-disc edition of this game (which costs about the same) you also get a lot more behind the scenes footage. Again, this is a huge improvement over the previous game.

Replay Value (Great)

>> There are plenty of reasons to play GoW2 multiple times, such as higher difficulty levels and unlockable content. This aside, I can guarantee I won't be playing this game again. Since this game places most of the emphasis on puzzles, the experience wouldn't be nearly as satisfying on a second playthrough.

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Tilt 8.3
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Cool Factor (Exceptional)

>> Though most of the emphasis in GoW2 is placed on puzzles and platforming, this is definitely the main selling point in this game. In the first game you single handedly took down the God of War and now you're after Zeus. Kratos is a man of no morals and will not blink an eye at sacrificing one's life for his cause, which is something you will have to do several times in this game. This is both sadistic and satisfying since there are very few games in which this is the case. There is also a lot of nudity and gory death animations in GoW2 as well. It is nice to see a game that is made purely for adults.

Fun Factor (Poor)

>> This is the part of the review where I have no qualms expressing my biased opinion. And in a nutshell, I found GoW2 to be extremely frustrating. I think the creators took pleasure in making many of the platforming and puzzles sequences in this game as annoying as possible. For example, while turning some lever (that you had to turn to get to the next area) enemies might spawn continuously causing you to let go of the lever. And while you were fighting the infinite amount of enemies the lever would slowly go back to its original position. This is a minor example of the many annoying circumstances the game would place you in.

There are also a few types of enemies (mostly from the first game) which are extremely annoying in GoW2, most notably the Medusas. Early on they aren't too bad, but later in the game they can turn you to stone almost instantaneously, and if you get hit once while petrified you die. Dying in this manner after a 15 minute fight is simply infuriating…so so very cheap. Combined w/ the fact that you can't cancel out of most combos (which I talked about in the controls section) fighting these enemies becomes even more frustrating.

This aside, fighting sequences (ones that didn't involve solving a puzzle or platforming simultaneously) were the most fun part of the game for me. This is why I play these type of games and the action in GoW2 can get quite intense and satisfying. It could have been so much better though for said reasons.

Other Details (Good)

>> Progress in GoW2 is handled in the same way that it was in the first game. After every "event" there is usually a checkpoint and there is a save point periodically placed between every few checkpoints. Again, I found this annoying since at certain points in the game there were several frustrating sequences in a row before you reached a save point. I wish every game these days would allow you to save whenever you want too, I don't see what is wrong w/ doing that.

I do have to give props to all the content GoW2 has again, this is the biggest improvement over the previous game. Early in the game most of the monsters are just ones recycled from the first game, but as you progress so do the types of enemies. Sony really was able to fit a lot into this game by taking what they had from the previous game and building on it instead of starting over. They also fixed the previous games greatest weakness, which was the lack of bosses. I can't even remember how many impressive bosses were in this game, where as the first game had like three.

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Conclusion
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Pros

+An adult themed game that exudes BA in every way possible
+Intuitive puzzles, many of which require you to think outside the box
+Graphics that push the limits of the PS2
+Hard hitting battle system w/ plenty of forces at your disposal
+A ton of content for action/adventure game, especially when compared to GoW1 (especially w/ respect to the number of quality bosses)
+Well mapped controller and great tutorials

Cons

-Inability to cancel out of many combos during combat
-Kratos character is shallow making it nearly impossible to associate w/ him
-Cheap enemy tricks combined w/ annoying puzzle/platforming can result in some very frustrating sequences
-Save points are too spaced out at times

Gameplay (20%) – 9.0
Graphics (15%) – 9.4
Sound (15%) – 9.0
Story (20%) – 7.7
Value (15%) – 9.0
Tilt (15%) – 8.3

Final Score – 8.7

>> If you enjoy adult themes, puzzles, and platforming or the first game then this is definitely the game for you. GoW2 executes all three of those things to perfection and brings them at you in a variety of ways and combinations relentlessly. This is not a game to be played casually as it requires the utmost attention and can be very frustrating at times, but in the end is very rewarding. Also keep in mind that despite the cool themes this is not a story driven game and Kratos' character will get a little old by games end. However, the story ends with a bang and sets the stage perfectly for God of War 3, which I am really looking forward too. I just hope that game fixes a couple of the issues that plagued this title.

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