A great reason to go Greek

'God of War' blesses gamers with a visual, aural and gameplay feast unlike anything previously seen on PS2

From MergeDigital

April 28, 2005|By Martin Kerrigan | Martin Kerrigan,Baltimoresun.com Staff

PlayStation 2 owners jealous of the superb, Xbox-only action title "Ninja Gaiden" now have their own high-budget hack 'n slasher to brag about. "God of War" blesses gamers with a visual, aural and gameplay feast unlike anything previously seen on PS2.

Set in ancient Greece, you play as Kratos, a brutal warrior. Your life is saved on the battlefield by the god Aries. In return, you're morphed into a nigh-invincible walking slaughterhouse, and you seek to destroy the god to escape your personal hell.

The intricate gameplay has a gentle learning curve and gradually introduces new, gratifying attacks. Your main weapon, a pair of swords-slash-maces, is like two weapons in one. Swirling like a sadistic jump rope, almost a dozen enemies can be taken on simultaneously over long range or a few can be handled close by. A grapple button allows you to grab undead soldiers, and with a primal roar, tear them in half like so many phone books. God-granted special abilities, such as using the gaze of Medusa's severed head to freeze enemies into stone, will bring tears to lovers of game innovation and fans of "Clash of the Titans" alike. Puzzles are abundant and occasionally tease the brain.

The PS2 is expertly brought to its full potential, delivering amazing graphics with minimal break-up and no discernable slowdown. Breathtaking moments include a fight with a screeching hydra atop a sinking battleship during a storm as well as coming to the edge of a cliff to find Aries himself, hundreds of feet tall, stomping through a battlefield valley whilst flaming arrows arc through the night sky. Such organic, detailed environments are everywhere, making it hard to look at the cookie-cutter levels of other games. Character designs are brilliant and refresh classic Greek monsters like the Cyclops and Minotaur with terrifying new details.

Orchestrated music, complete with choir, chimes in during especially tense moments. Clever dialogue is expertly voiced by well-cast actors. Surround sound grants the songs of the Sirens an eerie effect as they float from speaker to speaker, and the jet engine blast from the Hydra's throat is enough to knock you out of your recliner.

Multiple difficulty settings add incentive to re-experience this masterpiece, which is something you'll do without hesitation. A product of such impeccable quality will wipe away memories of so many mediocre games and reaffirms why all should bow to "God of War."

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