God of War 2 is one of the most epic games to appear on the PS2
The End Begins. That’s the tag line for God of War 2, the follow up to the critically acclaimed God of War. While it may not be the end for the God of War series, it is the end for the Playstation 2. It’s fitting that the best console for the past 6 years ends it lifecycle with one of the best games to be released on it.
God of War 2 picks up with Kratos as the new God of War. While he exacted his revenge upon Ares he is not content with sitting on his throne idly. So in typical Kratos fashion he has his army of Spartan soldiers destroying cities in his name. Unfornately this doesn’t please the other Gods but Kratos doesn’t give a damn.
As Kratos flies down to the Island of Rhodes he is stripped of his powers by his once benefactor Athena. This won’t stop Kratos though as he continues on his rampage up to an event with Zeus which sends him to Hades. There Kratos learns from the Titan Gaia that he can change his encounter with Zeus by visiting the 3 Sisters of Fate. With the backing of the Titans, Kratos goes on a journey to find the sisters and change his fate. That’s the core story of God of War 2 which is simply one of the most epic and fun titles to appear on the PS2.
The core of GOW2 is the same as GOW1; you go around various locales and dispatch enemies with your chain blades. But now that the Gods have taken your powers away you need to re-level your skills and acquire new magic. Some of the new weapons you get from the game come from boss encounters such as Typhon’s Bane, the Barbarian King’s Hammer, Euryale’s Gaze and Rage of the Titans. One of the most interesting new powers is one that allows Kratos to slow down time. This power can be used both to solve puzzles and during combat but only in the presence of certain statues. These new weapons and abilities are similar to some in the previous game but are still fun to use and feel fresh. Of course there are some new moves you can do with the Blades of Athena, many of which are context sensitive moves against enemies. Besides having to acquire new weapons and magic, Kratos can now swing on objects using his chain blades as well as having new wall climb mechanics. The swing mechanics in the game are cool but the areas in which you get to use this ability are a bit too few in between and are actually involved in one of the games most frustrating puzzles.
One of the best things about GOW 2 is its integration of Greek Mythology in the game. Besides the game’s first boss being the mythical statue at the city of Rhodes, you will encounter Prometheus, Theseus, Perseus, and Atlas and even ride Pegasus for a few levels. This makes the games world feel a lot richer since it in a way further integrates Kratos into Greek mythology. It’s also interesting to see how characters like Theseus and Perseus are portrayed in the God of War universe and it’s fitting that these characters have some of the most brutal deaths in the game.
The only thing game players had an issue with in God of War 1 was the small amount of boss battles. While the three battles in the game were amazing they were too far from each other and they always left you wanting more. Thankfully GOW2 fixed this with around 7 boss battles. GOW2 doesn’t hold back in the intensity and over the topness of the battles as you will face off against the Colossus of Rhodes in the opening battle and eventually defeat it by going inside of the statue. You then face off against Theseus, The Barbarian King, Perseus, Medusa’s sister and eventually the Sisters of Fate. Just like the GOW these boss battles have that intense cinematic feel and require different skills to take them out. The Statue battle in the first level easily outshines the Hydra battle and the face-off against the Barbarian King, while short, was worth the wait. Thankfully there isn’t a weak spot in any of the boss battles as they don’t feel forced into the game just for the sake of having them.
While God of War wasn’t a Tomb Raider style game when it came to puzzles, God of War continues this trend of having interesting puzzles that never become frustrating. There are still your standard block and pressure plate puzzles as well as some new ones that require Kratos to slow down time to continue. The difficulty of the puzzles never gets to a point of anger due to you not passing them. Usually you may not get it on the first try but then suddenly realize your error and then pass it on the second go. There is some platforming in GOW2 some of which is good while some is annoying. Having to rotate a circular platform which resets itself when you fight enemies can be annoying but not frustrating and having to swing jump columns one of which slowly resets itself in the ground and the last of which is blocked by a wall can take a few try to pass but once again it doesn’t reach that awful spinning blades of hell found in the Hades level in God of War.
God of War was a visual showpiece on the PS2 and GOW2 continues this. The art design retains that feel that made the first title so good as well as expanding it. When you see the steeds of time and their immense size you’re simply be blown away as you would’ve thought something of this grand size was only possible on the PS3. All the visuals have been refined so they of course look sharper than GOW and improved so there are more enemies and action happening at the same time. When you see yourself fighting 5 soldiers when you have a giant Colossus and there’s no slow down your jaw will be on the floor. God of War 2 is easily the most impressive PS2 game ever, even surpassing MGS3, Zone of the Enders 2 and even Shadow of the Colossus. It’s also impressive how the developers have gone about setting the stages for these battles and epic levels. One of the most impressive battles in the game has you fighting a mysterious foe in the shadows against the backdrop of a massive window. The really interesting thing about this battle is that both Kratos and his enemy are in silhouette and the camera is on a 2D view so the battle almost looks like something out of a Frank Miller novel.
Once again God of War easily has one of the best game scores ever to appear in a game. The score surpasses God of War through its more intricate compositions and hard hitting themes. The score is similar to one of a Basil Poledouris (Robocop, Starship Troopers) or Ennio Morricone (The Untouchables). From the front end music to the opening track for the Island of Rhodes, the score in God of War 2 is one of the most immersive and entertaining score to appear in a games for quite some time. It really makes you want to fight harder and keep on going since it’s that good. The excellent voice acting also returns with T.C Carson reprising his role as Kratos and Linda Hunt returning as the narrator whose role is revealed in the game. There are also a few celeb voice actors with Michael Clarke Duncan (The Green Mile, Daredevil) voices the mighty Atlas while Harry Hamlin reprises his role of Perseus who he played in the classic film Clash of the Titans.
At the end of the day God of War 2 is a worthy follow up to one of the best PS2 games ever and easily surpasses it. It takes everything the last game did and takes it to the max while still looking good visually and playing without any big frame rate drops. It’s good that the PS2 ends its life with a game that will surely keep those waiting for a PS3 busy. God of War 2