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God of War Retro Review

God of War made its debut on the PS2 in 2005. While many are relishing the recently-released PS4 reboot, the original is still a masterpiece well worth playing.

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God of War tells the tale of a chosen warrior, a Spartan named Kratos, who lies on death’s door. Kratos is given a second chance by Ares, the god of war, in exchange for Kratos becoming Ares’ servant.

Kratos is the ultimate warrior, whose Blades of Chaos dismembered thousands of foes. The blades themselves are chained to his skin. The dual swords can be wielded lethally to incapacitate enemies with combos for a second level of higher-powered attacks, which must be unlocked through upgrades. Later in the game, you gain a larger sword for which you can damage your enemies even greater.

From the moment you pick up God of War, the game plays naturally. Essentially the first level is a tutorial teaching you the ins and outs of the game mechanics, but it flows so seamlessly that it doesn’t actually feel like a tutorial. The first level starts you off directly in the action against the undead minions of Ares. You will slice, dice, spin, and split your way through the army of the dead, capping it off an epic boss battle a multi-headed Hydra right out of the gate.

Among other mythological creatures that you encounter are the Minotaur, Cyclops, Gorgons, Harpies, Wraiths, Cerberus Dogs, Sirens, Centaurs, and Satyrs. Others include Medusa, whose head you obtain relatively early on in the game, for which you can turn others into stone temporarily. It’s a fun nod to Greek mythology.

The structure of God of War is straightforward enough. You combat whatever enemies you face between one point and the next. Your overall goal is to defeat Ares, who is attempting to level Athens. By the time you reach the point where you actually see Ares — who is basically a giant god wrecking the storied city — you are nearly done with the early stages of the game.

The bulk of God of War takes place within the temple holding Pandora’s Box, which is needed to defeat Ares. The temple is filled with quirky surprises, deadly disasters, and a large array of puzzles. One of my favorites had you solve a jigsaw-type puzzle using Tetris-shaped stones. You rearrange them and twist them until they fit perfectly against the wall. In fact, God of War’s puzzles may be more challenging than the combat.

There is relatively little backtracking, although I would classify it as more of an intersection of paths. You will say to yourself, “oh, now I know why that was there.” So while there really is no backtracking, per se, you will run across some of the same areas but only to complete something that was left unfinished.

Even though this is a late PS2 game, the graphics hold up surprisingly well, especially if you are playing the remastered version on PS3. And if you are playing on PS2 hardware, this is easily one of the best-looking PS2 games on the market. Better yet, the frame rate remains steady while the fixed camera angles will rarely, if ever, get in the way of the action.

Greek mythology geek or not, most gamers are going to love this game. While I was never huge on Greek mythology, the God of War series renewed my interest. The action is intense, the puzzles entertaining, and the story interesting. I would go so far as to say that if there’s only one game that I could play again on PS2, God of War would be my pick.

This review was originally published in 2005. It has been updated and proofread with the help of Proofreading Monkey. If you are an author, blogger, or professional writer and need error-free copy, check out Proofreading Monkey for their affordable proofreading services.