God of War II

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God of War II

Post by Stilts »

Why Is Jabba The Hutt In This Game?
God of War II is a simple game. Its combat system has virtually no learning curve. Its level design is linear. Its story is...well...it's definitely not Shakespeare. Heck, even most of the puzzles can be solved without even realizing you were solving a puzzle. Basically, what God of War II is trying to do is dumb everything down in order to make the game as epic and fun as possible. It's a risky gamble that pays off...but probably not as much as the developer might have hoped.

This game takes place where God of War left off, with Kratos causing mayhem as the new God of War by ordering his Spartans to attack Rhodes. Zeus doesn't really like how uppity Kratos has gotten, so he uses his powers to shrink the gargantuan god-Kratos down to normal human size and animate the Colossus of Rhodes (Kratos, however, initially believes Athena does all this). And that's where the game starts: with Kratos facing down the Colossus. In fact, the whole level is really just one big boss battle, culminating in a segment where Kratos destroys the Colossus from the inside. Let me tell you, it feels awesome.

This is the best part in the game.
Unfortunately, it's too good to last. It turns out that the handy Olympus Blade that Zeus gave you to kill the Colossus was a clever trick to siphon all the godhood out of your body. He then stabs Kratos through the chest with it, which you'd think would do a pretty good job of killing him. But no, Kratos is able to escape Hades through sheer brute force, at which point he begins his search for the Fates in order to change his destiny and defeat Zeus. Or something like that. Look, the story is on the artistic level of your typical junior high scribblings, complete with copious and unnecessary amounts of blood and boobs, so you really shouldn't worry too much about the details. In any case, I'm going to save the boobs for later, because I need to talk about the blood right now.

The combat is an interesting specimen, since how enjoyable it is varies not by what Kratos is doing, but by what Kratos is fighting. The more awesome my opponent was, the more I enjoyed the combat. Undead barbarian with a big-ass hammer? Fun! Skeletons? Eh...not so much. This is precisely why no other moment in the game lives up to the greatness of the first level. Nothing is really quite as amazing as fighting an animated statue that's over 100 times bigger than you and follows you around the entire level. To be fair, there are still some pretty incredible moments sprinkled throughout the game, but even most of those pale in comparison to the Colossus. Ironically, what became Assassin's Creed''s downfall could have made God of War II better—repetition. Sure, you get new weapons and spells and can upgrade everything in your repertoire, and I guess that's fun. But like I said before, none of it really seems interesting unless you're fighting an opponent that's interesting, which occurs a little less than half the time; and the majority of those fights are against bosses or minibosses.

"Alright, gentlemen. We want to have Kratos ride a pegasus, but how do we make it not look sissy?"
"Uh...light it on fire and stick a blade on its tail?"
"Give this man a raise!"
Speaking of bosses, there seem to be quite a few more female opponents in this game than you might see in other action games. How do I know some of the bosses are female? Well, yeah, in theory it could be hard to tell if you picked certain mythical deities and beasts, but God of War II made it easy to figure out by making sure every female creature in the game had at least one exposed breast. Oddly enough, the uglier the creature was, the more exposed breasts it had. You know Clotho? One of the three Fates? Yeah, it turns out she's a giant, immobile, blue slug monster with six arms and over a dozen breasts. That was sort of an awkward battle.

Also awkward are the quick-time events, where the game segues into cinematic beatdowns that let Kratos show off his moves. Virtually all control is wrested from the player, which would be perfectly fine if it weren't for a couple niggling problems. Instead of sitting back and enjoying the show, the player has to press partially randomized buttons at certain times or fail the QTE. During most battles, failing usually means taking some damage and being forced to do the QTE over again, which is perfectly reasonable. However, the fun quickly gives way to frustration when failing equals instant death. This is exactly what the final QTE does. In fact, that one is a perfect example of what a QTE should not do. Not only is it a "failure = death" event, but it also happens right after a cutscene (which you have to watch every time you retry the QTE), and almost all of the button presses seem arbitrary. Remember how I said the buttons were partially randomized? That means that if a certain part of the QTE requires you to press a face button (circle, square, triangle, or X), it might be a different face button the next time, but it'll never be a shoulder button (R1, R2, L1, and L2). In other words, memorization won't help you as often as you'd think it would. So guess what the final QTE is mostly composed of! Yep, that's right. Face buttons. That single QTE took me longer to beat than most of the bosses did. Brilliant, guys. Make my final memory of your game one of incredible frustration.

Not shown here: Kratos brutally mauling Icarus to steal those wings.
Looking back at the experience as a whole, though, God of War II is a good game. The environments were varied, interesting, and well-designed, and the combat and platforming managed to keep me entertained for the majority of the time. The problem is that there are other action games out there that are simply better. If you're a big fan of action games, go ahead and pick it up. However, if you tend to dabble in multiple genres like I do, it might be better if you saved your money and just rented this game, if only to play the first level. Then go out and buy Shadow of the Colossus, which is basically what the best boss battle in God of War II ripped off. Or you could just buy both of them, seeing as how inexpensive they are now. But at least buy Shadow of the Colossus. Which reminds me...

Dear Game Developers,
Please rip off Shadow of the Colossus more often. Thanks.

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