God of War 2(1)

Genre:Action Adventure / Hack n’ Slash
Year: 2007
Developed by: SCE Santa Monica Studio
Published by: Sony Computer Entertainment
Platforms: PS2, PS3, Vita
Feeling Like: Ghost in the Shell

This can’t be right.

It says here that God of War 2 was released on March 13, 2007.

But I specifically remember watching Walker and Carlo play it in residence.

Which is physically impossible – I moved out of Bigelow House in April of 2005.

So, something is wrong. It’s either Wikipedia or my memory.

I don’t remember playing God of War 2. It’s entirely possible I imagined beating it, or I just soaked it in while watching…I mean SOMEBODY, maybe Walker and Carlo came by at King St. to play it in the last month of our Mount Allison career? It’s anybody’s guess at this point.

To me, this whole memory debacle highlights the strength of a game like God of War 2. It’s so grand that details like where I played it, when I played it and how I played it are irrelevant or even non-existent. Very few franchises are this way. A God of War game promises epic fights, monstrous enemies, heart pounding action and a scale that matches the entire mythology of Ancient Greece and Rome. Unlike many imitators, a God of War game always delivers in its promise.

God of War 2(4)
I’ve said it before, so I’ll say it again: this is within the first 10 minutes of the game

I’ve already gone over some of the series’ fundamentals in my God of War entry so I’ll be sparse in that regard here. What I didn’t get to, and what I hope to convey here, is how unique Kratos’ weapons of choice are.

The Blades of Chaos are not the kind of instrument of death you see in every game. Most action games provide players with a basic melee attack that requires you to be close to the enemy you’re striking. You’ll also likely get some kind of projectile attack, like a magic spell or a bow and arrow. To ensure players can’t just stand back and take pot shots, the developer usually scales down the potential of this ability with limited ammunition, or reduces their power.

In the God of War games, Kratos’ has numerous abilities and weapons, but the Blades of Chaos are the trademark and infinitely more interesting to me. They’re chained to Kratos’ hands, so you’re sort of swinging them like a murderous set of yo-yos, or boomerangs. Because they can be used both up close and far away, the developers have given you a choice and opened up the freedom of possibilities.

The reach on them is crazy, far greater than any lance, spear or polearm type weapon. I can hit enemies as they’re charging in and continue my combo as they foolishly wander more closely. I can risk going in close, and angling my chained swords so that my attacks hit multiple enemies in a row behind my target. I can’t say I ever fully got the hang of them, but they’re so fun to use that I didn’t care. There is a laundry list of combos, and they all have an ideal scenario to use them. You can button mash, but it’s smarter to button mash in the right way.

God of War 2(3)
It also opens up the game to establish crazy cinematic camera angles, like this one

Every screenshot you’ll see here involves Kratos looking tiny overpowering some disgusting, giant mythical beast and for good reason: that’s the best part of a God of War game. Because the weapons’ range is so strong, the game is forgiving. If I had to get in super close to a boss just to attack them, I’d be missing out on the background destruction, or the extended length of the snake boss in the above screenshot. SCE was/is really onto something.

It’s not uncommon for video game sequels to be superior to their original counterparts. Each new IP can be seen as an experiment; will the public take to this? What kinks can we iron out later on? What will new hardware allow us to do with the character? Do we have the sales to even justify a sequel? Graphics, framerate and a slew of other gaming fundamentals tend to improve, though how much is usually an indication as to whether or not fans will flock to the second, third, fourth, etc. game.

Every God of War is better than the last. God of War 3 finds itself on new hardware and the action has never felt better. The fourth game takes Kratos and the series in an entirely new direction with a massive emphasis on story and character development. Not only is it the best game in the series, it’s one of the best games I’ve ever played.

God of War 2(2)
Ok we get it. Did the big monster just do three costume changes or what?

What a great nickname Kratos sports, too. The Ghost of Sparta. Indicating a long lost warrior race, somebody who doesn’t belong in the current world. A fossil. An angry, bloodthirsty fossil. And I’ll be damned if I miss out on any of his future adventures. God of War 2 is akin to a chapter in a history book at this point – every future iteration plays better, but if you want to get a good idea of how big a step it was from the first game, or just want to fully indulge in Kratos’ rampage of the old gods, you could do far worse than God of War 2.

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