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God of War | review | game | Lollipop

God of War

(SCEA for the PS2)
by Eric Chon

Sometimes you can equate a game with a genre of music. God of War is fucking death metal. Not heavy metal. Not even thrash metal. "The Many Misadventure's of Kratos" demands blood-sacrifice, and only a soundtrack worthy of the apocalypse can give you the tiniest glimpse into the organ-splattered world in which he resides (no, that he creates for himself).

God of War is a thoroughly and unapologetically depraved experience. The violence with which you dispatch your many adversaries would make MAVIA members pop their heads like a Cronenberg movie! Let's say you're put-upon by a minotaur of considerable size. He seeks to make your bones into jelly, and you, as Kratos, will have none of it. In other games, you might hit him with your sword. Maybe cast some form of spell. In God of War, you head-butt said opponent to the ground and proceed to shove your blade into his gaping maw, extracting glowing spheres of life energy. You don't merely defeat, you annihilate. SCEA has tapped straight into your limbic system, tickling your amygdala like a naughty uncle.

As a malefic force, Kratos has no equal. He is driven by an indomitable will and dispenses indiscriminate punishment like it's going out of style. And all without spewing a single line of smart-ass commentary. His actions speak loudly, and everyone who listens tends to get stabbed in the face. His weapons of choice are undeniably the coolest I've seen yet: Twin blades attached by chains, seared into his flesh, which allows him to earn the title "human cuisinart" without reservation.

But, of course, the best character in the world means jack shit if you don't have the game to back it up. God of War delivers the goods. At every moment of the game, all synapses are firing. From the start, you can mete out horrific injury like a well-seasoned professional... of murder! As you progress, you gain new abilities and moves, augmenting your lexicon of pain.

Boss battles pepper God of War, and their execution is flawless. Dealing combos is necessary to exterminating your enemies, but SCEA has thrown in mini-games - for lack of a better description - allowing you to "guide a cut scene." These action sequences allow you to perform "fatalities," and they even extend to the other creatures throughout the game. You can smack a Medusa until she explodes in a shower of blood-red experience globes, or rip her fucking head off for all to see. There's a reason for Kratos' madness, and his story unfolds through well-timed and well-told flashbacks, but I won't spoil it for you. Let's just say he's Gothic-white for a reason, and it's not body paint.

Add some mind-numbingly difficult platforming sections (Hades level, I'm looking right at you!) and deviously intricate puzzles, and God of War practically has "action-adventure title of the year" written all over it. In the blood of innocents. As short as it is, and as controller-throwingly frustrating as parts of it are, this is one of the best overall titles I've played in recent memory.


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