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God of War II review

Slice the ancient world wide open in this beautifully destructive monster-stomp

Pros

  • Sublimely visceral action
  • Breathtakingly gigantic stages
  • Lots of familiar faces to stab

Cons

  • Needless secondary weapons
  • Cliffhanger ending
  • Kratos is an asshole

Playing as an antihero in a videogame is nothing new, but 2005's God of War was, for many, the first time they'd been asked to play an outright villain. Protagonist Kratos never made the %26ldquo;right%26rdquo; decisions, always disposing of his enemies in the cruelest ways imaginable and murdering anyone who wasn't of immediate use to him. Still, he turned out to be one of the most compelling characters we'd ever played as, so we couldn't help rooting for him as he went from being a tormented madman to being a tormented madman who was also the Greek god of war.

Of course, it also didn't hurt that the slash 'em-up he starred in was one of the most balls-out fun games on PS2, enabling players to easily and spectacularly carve up legions of nasty-looking monsters with a sublime, superhuman grace. God of War II takes everything that made that experience great and pumps it full of methamphetamine and steroids, with Kratos once again charging headlong into ridiculously dangerous settings to angrily tear apart everything he meets. The action is just as brutally satisfying as before, as Kratos uses Athena's Blades - a whiplike pair of scimitars on chains - to slice dramatic, rage-fueled arcs through hordes of enemies. And this time, there's a whole lot more of it and it rarely lets up for long.

At the same time, the game still manages to strike a perfect balance between furious action, clever environmental puzzles and awesome interactive cinemas (which range from elaborate, usually violent set pieces to simpler, hit-the-buttons-on-cue fatalities), keeping players riveted with a constant stream of new stuff. And it's all driven by a superb story that has Kratos stomping, slashing and leaping through mythological horrors to gain an audience with the three Sisters of Fate.

Playing as an antihero in a videogame is nothing new, but 2005's God of War was, for many, the first time they'd been asked to play an outright villain. Protagonist Kratos never made the %26ldquo;right%26rdquo; decisions, always disposing of his enemies in the cruelest ways imaginable and murdering anyone who wasn't of immediate use to him. Still, he turned out to be one of the most compelling characters we'd ever played as, so we couldn't help rooting for him as he went from being a tormented madman to being a tormented madman who was also the Greek god of war.

Of course, it also didn't hurt that the slash 'em-up he starred in was one of the most balls-out fun games on PS2, enabling players to easily and spectacularly carve up legions of nasty-looking monsters with a sublime, superhuman grace. God of War II takes everything that made that experience great and pumps it full of methamphetamine and steroids, with Kratos once again charging headlong into ridiculously dangerous settings to angrily tear apart everything he meets. The action is just as brutally satisfying as before, as Kratos uses Athena's Blades - a whiplike pair of scimitars on chains - to slice dramatic, rage-fueled arcs through hordes of enemies. And this time, there's a whole lot more of it and it rarely lets up for long.

At the same time, the game still manages to strike a perfect balance between furious action, clever environmental puzzles and awesome interactive cinemas (which range from elaborate, usually violent set pieces to simpler, hit-the-buttons-on-cue fatalities), keeping players riveted with a constant stream of new stuff. And it's all driven by a superb story that has Kratos stomping, slashing and leaping through mythological horrors to gain an audience with the three Sisters of Fate.

More Info

GenreAction
DescriptionEviscerate the ancient world once again as Kratos returns for more monster-ripping combat.
PlatformPS2
US censor ratingMature
UK censor rating
Release date:13 March 2007 (US), (UK)
Available platforms:PS2
Genre:Action

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

After graduating from college in 2000 with a BA in journalism, I worked for five years as a copy editor, page designer and videogame-review columnist at a couple of mid-sized newspapers you've never heard of. My column eventually got me a freelancing gig with GMR magazine, which folded a few months later. I was hired on full-time by GamesRadar in late 2005, and have since been paid actual money to write silly articles about lovable blobs.
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