One of the best games ever designed, created, and gloriously playable.

User Rating: 10 | God of War II PS2
Back in 2005, Sony's Santa Monica studios released a game, titled "God Of War", with little fanfare. People tried it out and, like most people, were simply blown away from the stunning, now famous, Hydra Level to the fantastic closure of the story. It also introduced one of the freshest protagonists yet seen in a game, Kratos. Kratos is the ultimate bad ass, his aggression and violence was one of the star qualities in the original. It was also ingenious in how you sympathise with the pain of Kratos. However it was all he's own doing, whilst trying to avoid the obvious plot spoiler here but can't, eventually becoming the new God Of War.

From that convoluted opening statement, let's get to the crux of the game. It's brilliant, more so than the original. In fact, this is has polished as you're going to get for the ancient Playstation 2. It surpasses everything that made the original so brilliant. From its perfectly balanced gameplay, smooth transition of the story, fantastic sound, gorgeous graphics and an epic sense of scale, God Of War pretty much perfected everything from the get go. Yet, miraculously, God Of War 2 is the better title.

Fundamentally, nothing has actually changed the core mechanics from God Of War. The fighting system is essentially the same as found in the original, albeit with new moves and it feels tighter and polished. Why fix what isn't broke? So going from the original to the sequel will be smooth for veterans, yet accessible for newcomers alike. And that's what makes God Of War so appealing, new people to the franchise or indeed the genre can quickly grasp the basic concept of God Of War and have great fun. There's no ridiculously long move list to master, there is a list of moves but they aren't truly essential for the game, no painstaking exploration to go and no disastrous puzzle to navigate (the only true blemish the original had was the Hades' Ladder.... grrr). This is a thrill ride from beginning to end, and what a ride it is. Everything you loved in God Of War has had it cranked up to 11 for the sequel.

Magic appears again, aside from the new names, they're more or less the same as they appeared in the original. Zeus bolts is now a bow and arrow, for example. Yet here they feel more balanced, a bit more powerful and easier to execute (given that they was all like this in the original, that's a great feat!). There are also different weapons to try out, but the default blades Kratos has are far more practical and essentially, more exciting and fun to use. Speaking of which, the executable finishing moves return and they're just as sick, as nasty, as disturbing as the original. However, they're far more belligerent and numerous.

I can't help but shake the feeling that the only flaw I saw is the Blades Of Chaos is still the better weapon out of the whole list. They're far more versatile, cool and fun to use. They're quick, have excellent moves and have great range. The new hammer weapon is okay, but it's sluggish and slow to be much fun. Powering these weapons is dealt in the same manner as found in the debut title. You collect red orbs, Devil May Cry style, from enemies, urns and red treasure chests. You put these orbs in a pool and collect a certain amount to move to the next level. The same orbs also power up your spells, but they can only level up twice. But there is a significant difference between level 1 spell and level 2 spells. All in all, it's generally brilliant!

What is brilliant about the game is the superb pacing and level design. Not once are you bored, confused on what to do next. Everything moves at a great pace. The opening level in particular lays down the basic fundamentals of God Of War 2. But it's the variety in the game that truly astounds me. Nothing ever repeats. Okay, so the games pretty much combat all the way through but because it's so versatile and brilliantly executed the battles never get old. There's always something that changes the pace of the battle such as crumbling rocks or strong gusts of wind. You're kept constantly on your toes and quiet moments are few and far between one another. This is truly a master class in great level design and engineering, if you will. Never has a game had such a magnificent scope of epic ness. The epic feel of this game is truly breathtaking and each level environment leaves a lasting and unforgettable moment. From the stunning opening level, to the finale the feeling of vastness is over whelming good.

The only true new addition in the game is the Pegasus flying sections, which helps break up the pace quite nicely and is great fun. Though these moments are kept short and limited to only showing a couple of times, they're a fine addition to the franchise. The general way these moments are played is in a similar fashion to Panzeer Dragon on the Saturn. Don't think these moments are less violent or weak. They're not, they fit in nicely to the goriness, ripping wings of griffins is awesome.

God Of War 2 has fantastic art direction, eclipsing the original in massive style. It has moments that you rarely see in other games, perhaps beating Twilight Princess in beauty and scope. Everything screams quality, from the dust particles in the beams of light, to the character models of Kratos, the enemies and everyone, basically. There's slight slow down in some areas but it's barely worth mentioning. Everything is smooth throughout and this game really does push the PS2 to its absolute limit. Stunning to look at from start to it's conclusion.

The sound is absolutely terrific. From the emotional arousing score, to the superb voice acting, to the excellent sound effects. Oh this game is brilliant to look at, play and listen to. No faults anywhere what so ever.

God Of War 2 is reasonably lengthy, about 15 hours. But like the original, it's totally replayable with new unlockable modes, costumes and loads of worthwhile secrets. This is a great package.

Now I come to the conclusion on God Of War 2. If you own a Playstation 2 you simply must own this. Or have a good lengthy play with it. Or watch it. You need this game simply because it's the best game on the system. You'll never be bored with it. It's highly enjoyable and engrossing. Buy it!