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God of War

01 May 2005

A Three-Headed What?If you like buckets of blood with your action, puzzles to loose sleep over, platform stunts that give your controller a serious workout, cinematics that threaten the safety of your eyeballs and monsters that leave saliva on your face then God of War is the game for you.  Even if you don’t like these kinds of things you will love God of War anyway - I promise.  

God of War is a tale of revenge set amidst Greek Myths and Legends and every monster and foe you face looks right at home.  Every piece of moving machinery, every weapon, every building, every scrap of clothing and living animal has a firm sense of belonging.  Put simply, God of War is one the best looking games I’ve ever seen.  And this sensory extravaganza is not left to the eyes alone to enjoy, oh no!  Your ears receive just as much attention, and like the visuals, nothing is out of place with the audio. The sumptuous musical score is completely in accord with you, it hurries when you do, it’s sad when you are, it’s angry, it’s suspenseful, it’s lilting softness one minute and crashing anger the next, and it’s always superb. The character voices have been well chosen too, from the Oracle’s belligerent nagging to hurry and rescue her, to some poor soul screaming and begging for mercy as you drag his cage toward a fiery death. From the first words of the elderly narrator explaining why Kratos is committing suicide, I was hooked.  

Yes. The game begins as Kratos steps off a cliff in a bid to dash himself to death on the rocks below.  And as Kratos rushes headlong towards oblivion you are told that things hadn’t always been so bad for our Hero, and you are warped back in time to three weeks prior where you find yourself in the middle of the Agean Sea, on a boat inhabited by the dead and being torn apart by a huge multi-headed Hydra.  And thus your adventure as Kratos, the Greek Warrior, begins.

About Kratos, at the beginning of the game, you know nothing, but through the narrator and superbly crafted flashbacks you learn why Kratos is a legendary warrior and why he is so tormented. You will pick up in the first few minutes that Kratos is driven and sadistic, but you learn on your journeys how he got that way as your character evolves. You begin in a crumbling Athens, where the God of War, Ares, is tearing buildings from the ground and crushing its citizens with his mighty sandaled feet.  This is where you learn that you must kill Ares, the very God who once helped you destroy your own enemies.  Ares, the God who burned your weapons, the ‘Blades of Kaos,’ into the flesh of your forearms so you would be the greatest warrior of all.  But there is much ground to cover before you, a mere mortal, confront a God, and the God of War at that.

The ‘Blades of Kaos,’ a pair of large blades on chains, are excellent for keeping your foes at a distance, and when upgraded are the best weapons in the game. The only other, physical, weapon is the huge ‘Blade of Artemis,’ which is ideal if you find yourself surrounded and in close combat.  On your journey to defeat Ares and find your own redemption, the Gods Aphrodite, Poseidon, Zeus and Hades each provide you with a measure of magic, provided you meet their Challenges of course.  These range from hurling lightening bolts at distant undead Archers to turning Wraiths and Legionnaires to stone. During combat, after the requisite number of buckets of blood have been split and your foe has been stunned or become dizzy, a circle appears above his head and a ‘mini-game’ is initiated.  This means pushing the right button at the right time once you have mounted the enemy.  With a little practice you’ll be twisting the heads off Gorgons, ramming daggers into Minotaurs mouths, ripping the wings off Harpies and decapitating Satyrs like a seasoned warrior.

Not Just a Button MasherWhile God of War sounds like fun, and most assuredly it is, there is also some hard work to be done. There are a few puzzles and timed tasks to perform in Athens, but mostly of the jumping, climbing, balancing pushing, pulling kind, and while they’re not overly difficult some will try your patience.  However, once you have crossed the Desert of Lost Souls, where the eerie Siren’s Song drifts on the wind, and you have found Kronos, the last Titan, who is destined to wander the Desert with Pandora’s Mountain chained to his back and entered the Temple of Pandora, the puzzles become much more difficult.

Also by this time you will have noticed that God of War is missing something.  No, it’s not women.  Although this is a very ‘manly’ game there are a few of the fairer sex about, and invariably they are topless.  No, it’s not the challenge. There are enough challenges in God Of War to have your controller performing some gymnastic moves of its own.  So, what is this game missing?  Thankfully - it’s the loading time.  Not once do you see a loading bar changing colour at snail’s pace and the toilet breaks, channel flicking and trips to the fridge aren’t necessary anymore!