The God of War series tells the story of a captain of the army of Sparta, Kratos. The stories in the first two games seem well thought out and made what would have been major frustrations I had with the games more minor annoyances. It becomes apparent when you think about that, just how much someone can forgive for a decent plot.
In the first God of War, you start as Kratos, and as the story starts, he’s jumping from the highest cliff in Greece, because he’s tormented by his past and the Gods won’t take away his pain. After a little bit of that cut scene, you flashback to three months prior and go into some quick combat and learn the basics of the controller. Then you are tasked by Athena to save Athens, which is currently under attack by the God of War, Ares. Yup! They want you, a mere mortal, to kill him, because there’s some rule that Gods are not supposed to kill each other. You know very little of Kratos’ back story; you learn very quickly that he is a servant of the Gods, but not why (nor do you find out until much later in the game why he has skin that’s a little paler than everyone else and why he’s occasionally taunted as “the ghost of Sparta”). However, the game developers do cleverly provide cut scenes throughout the game that explain how Kratos came to be as he is … and why he is trying to kill himself.
The meat of the game involves a lot of third-person hack-and-slash, along with a bunch of puzzles. I don’t always do well with puzzles – so Google may become your friend if you get stuck somewhere.
You get hints of certain things in the first game: Kratos is not exactly a nice guy; the Gods have the tendency to be self-serving pricks.
Something that will also become apparent to you is that if you’ve played a lot of third-person style games, God of War doesn’t always seem to use some of the conventional controls that other games might. My primary complaint early on was that there was no camera control. If you don’t know, being able to change the angle of view yourself sometimes makes situations that require careful maneuvering infinitely more tolerable. With God of War, sometimes the camera changes unexpectedly, which can have you falling off of a balance beam far above a fiery pit, or make jumps over a fiery pit from one narrow perch to another difficult. In God of War 2 it was a bit more frustrating because there were cases where the developers had hidden chests of goodies that you wouldn’t be able to see completely, and might miss as you passed them if you weren’t paying attention.
The biggest annoyance for me though was the lack of consistency between the two games. Same basic weapon sets, same basic magic, two significantly different ways of switching between weapons or triggering certain things. When they remastered the graphics, they did not seek to make the games consistent in their controller setup.
By the beginning of God of War 2, Kratos has replaced a slain Ares as the
Prick God of War. As he is a bit of a jerk (with the Spartan army praising his name and razing pretty much any city Kratos would like them to) and also not one of the original Olympians, the other Gods aren’t really too fond of him. As you eventually find out, the only one of them worth any real admiration is Athena.
Zeus sets Kratos up, tricking Kratos into making himself a mortal again. Zeus attempts to kill Kratos; he only survives by the interference of Gaia, one of the Titans that the Olympians defeated in the Great War. Gaia understandably doesn’t like Zeus all that much, and Kratos has already told Zeus his days are numbered, and so begins the next game, where you seek what you need to prevent Zeus’ double-cross (yup, there’s a bit of time-travel there) and defeat him.
For the few of you reading this, I won’t ruin the ending of God of War 2 for you. Suffice to say it sets things up for game 3, which I haven’t played (though I touched the demo for it).
I found myself Googling for solutions a bit more in GoW2 than I did the first one. Chalk that up to my impatience, and the fact that you some times have to go past a particular blocked entrance or locked door to find what you need to get said entrance unblocked or door unlocked, so the doubling back can get a little annoying and cause you to lose track of what you might need to do next. The advice I’d give you if you’d like to avoid Google is:
- Check the walls – occasionally you can climb them and it isn’t as obvious as it might be elsewhere.
- Most of the time the doors that you need to get through stay open once you open them; so the ones you haven’t gone through are still closed. Also … some doors didn’t look like doors to me.
My wife at one point during the second game noted, “He really isn’t a nice guy” as Kratos rammed a guy’s face into a book. Hard. Like, eventually killed him. At the very least, you have to say that Kratos in the second game is incredibly single minded and revenge oriented. In that sense, he fits in with the rest of the Gods.
I think I found the combo for less than $30. I’d say it’s worth it, even with it’s frustrations. It’s two different games, and like I said: You’ll forgive a lot when there’s a good story involved.
It’s also worth nothing that the game is rated M – there’s a bit of nudity in it, and a lot of blood. So, probably not a kid’s game.