PS2 Re-Visit: God of War

The beginning of Krato’s dark and twisted tale, God of War is a high-octnae action game detailing the falling out between Kratos and the Gods and following his exploits through Greece on a mission of revenge.

The brainchild of Twisted Metal creator David Jaffe, God of War has become something of an action icon since its release in 2005, bringing with it a whole new take on the action genre that has since made the game into a bar that other games in the genre are measured against.

But what made it work? Why was the game so successful?

Epic is a fantastic way to describe God of War. Everything about that game makes it feel like some sort of epic action film. Large set pieces, elaborate cutscenes, backgrounds, and camera angles are all masterfully implemented in a way that makes the game feel like so much more than a mere hack-and-slash game. At one point toward the beginning, you find yourself running along a cliff, overlooking Athens as a gigantic Ares stomps buildings to the ground. Fighting the Hydra is a complex task with multiple stages that calls for additional strategy and use of the environment to put it down for good. The camera is fixed to feature Kratos from one specific direction, but it always has the feel of being like a fast-paced film.

Both the music and art style for God of War went together like peanut butter and jelly. The music was intense and built upon the action well, and the art style felt real and smooth, becoming a great system of delivery for the heavy action in the game.

While Kratos himself is an unbelievably angry character, the story within God of War is actually fairly well laid-out; it’s a story of revenge, of man vs the Gods in a war of impossibility that only Kratos is willing to wage in all of his powerful glory.  Cutscenes are interesting and fluid, and do a great job of driving the story forward.

The game’s biggest success, however, is its combat. Combat in God of War feels so smooth and fluid. It’s fast, it’s deadly, and it’s nothing if not strangely pretty to watch. Weapons have weight and a distinct feel to them, damage is dealt with heavy impact, and enemies feel just as dangerous as Kratos with their varied abilities and weaknesses. Add to that an elaborate combo system that allows for new moves and power-ups and the feature of inheriting God-like abilities, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for enthralling, fascinating combat that only Kratos can deliver in all his raging glory.

So why re-visit God of War on the PS2? Because it’s a classic. It’s an action game that re-defined action, bending genre lines and introducing us to a type of game we hadn’t experienced before. It’s smooth, it’s fluid, it’s pretty, and combat feels so damn good. Amazingly enough, the game holds up well even today, and its success is apparent at the sheer number of installments that followed the original, including the upcoming God of War: Ascension. While our technology may come along and create an even better-looking game in the future, now’s the time to pull the PS2 out of the closet, dust it off, and pop in the original God of War. You’ll thank yourself for it.