Moving On Up: God of War II Review

god-of-war-2-wallpaper

Before reading this, if you haven’t already checked out of my God of War review, head on over there first.  You’ll feel more complete, and your chi will be better centered, which is always a good thing.  It’ll also help explain when I say that God of War II is just like God of War, but about four times as nice.

God of War II was originally released in 2007 for the PlayStaion 2.  I played the Remastered PS3 Bundle that contained HD versions of both God of War and God of War II.  And, just like I said in my God of War review, this game looks slick, even though it’s almost two consoles old.  Compared to the first game, every edge here is smooth, lighting is more fluid, particles and liquids have a current generation feel, and the entire thing runs as silky as a nightie.  Now, it’s not going to win any awards for its realistic artwork, but it’s been remastered to a point where it’s pretty much indistinguishable from an earlier released PS3 game.

Now, what is God of War II all about?  Well, upon finishing the first one, you (as Kratos) have beaten Ares, and assumed his role as the God of War.  You’re not a fan of your other godly co workers, so you’re kind of a loner up on Olympus.  Doing your own thing, warring, being all egotistical and whatnot.  Your Spartans are attacking Rhodes in your name, and you decide to turn into the most bad ass meteor ever and join the party.  Upon arriving to cause your potent blend of ass kicking and sword-to-face pep talks, Zeus and Athena tag team and set about wrecking your shit.  Without divulging too much to those who haven’t played it yet, you end up losing your godly powers (well, your old godly powers.  You get new ones).

The game pretty much “starts” here.  Your new task: kick the shit out of Zeus and any other god who stands in your way.  Why?  Well, he de-deifiied you, and you still kinda hate everyone for the whole “I killed my wife and child, and basically ruined my life” thing from the first game.  So, yeah, bitterness and resentment are still among your arsenal.  This time, however, you’re helped out by the Titans of all things, led by Mama Titan herself, Gaia.

Gaia_meets_Kratos
                                                      By the beard of Zeus!

With her help, you come back from death, ride a Pegasus, rip a bow out of another Titan’s face, fly to a mythical Island, and fight your way through temples and bogs and traps and four giant horses, plus even more bad assery, in order to reach the Sisters of Fate.  These ladies will help you change time (if you ask nicely) so that you can go back and whup up on Zeus, before he has the chance to mess you up in Rhodes.  So yes, more Greek mythology, and time travel.  It’s like the best PB&J ever.

The story of the first God of War was, in my opinion, very well done.  It wasn’t groundbreaking or emotionally gripping, but it was engaging, it made sense, it came full circle (for the most part) and it was satisfying to find out why the first thing we see is Kratos jumping into the ocean.  In God of War II, the story is about 146% better, give or take.  First of all, you get Titan powers, which is awesome.  Additionally, it feels about twice as long, even though you spend most of the game in one massive temple.

horses
              It is a sweet temple. I mean, just look at the size of those horses’ asses!

Also, there was more emotion within this iteration’s story.  I found myself feeling pissed off that I was now forced to scrape and claw my way back up from, literally, the very bottom, even though I was the reason why.  That didn’t matter.  Those gods knew I already killed Ares, and his beard was made out of fire!  Why did they think that Zeus’ normal, Santa Claus beard would be able to hold me down?

In addition to the buffed up story, the gameplay steps up in a big way.  In my review of the first game, I wanted more weapons.  Well, ask and you shall receive (even if you ask years after the fact).  In addition to your blades, you get a big ass barbarian hammer, and the Spear of Destiny (no, not the Spear of Destiny).  These are all fully upgradable weapons, with sweet combos and awesome looking attacks.  You can switch between one or another in real-time, depending on how you feel like kicking ass at that moment.  Additionally, you get another assortment of magic attacks, including the aforementioned bow (which replaces your ranged option a la Zeus from the first game).  I found myself using the bow quite a bit, because it doesn’t use too much magic, and if you upgrade, it hits fairly decently.  You also get to use Kronos’ shocking blue balls, a giant temper tantrum earth quake, and the trusty ol’ gorgon stare, to just petrify the shit out of people.

At first I was afraid, I was petrif...*smash*
                                       At first I was afraid, I was petrif…*smash*

The puzzles are back in full force as well.  They’re much more puzzly than the first game, and now, you receive an ability to slow down time when you’re near special statues, which allow you to make jumps, grabs, runs, leaps, pushes, and swings in what would normally be an impossibly short amount of time to do so.  For example, at one point, you have to pull a lever, which hides a floor of spikes and allows you to cross, turn crank to lift a wall down the hall, possibly open some chests, and then make it through that opening you made, all within the time you have from activating your Time Lord statue.  It can get a little tricky, even with the power of time at your fingertips.

I'm sorry.  I'm so sorry
                                                                     Allonsy!

You can also now use your blades to swing from rappel points, like some kind of epic Greek Tarzan, which is awesome.  In one sequence, you swing from a row of crumbling and collapsing columns, zipping back and forth between them as the game slows down to allow you some slow motion awesomeness.  You won’t be able to help from cringing and holding your breath as you just manage to let go of the final column before it drags you down….Unless it does, and then you’re dead.  Finally, you get to fly!  Ok, not fly, more like gliding with style.  But still, it’s better than nothing.

Your Rage of the Gods ability (that thing that turned you into an unstoppable electric armored Spartan from GoW Uno) is now Rage of the Titans, giving you a healthy, molten sheen while you wreck the place.  And, you can now open chests that give you Titan Rage orbs, so you no longer have to rely on simply killing to charge up your rage.  It’s basically like old world HGH supplements.  Most of your abilities are similar to what you had in the first game, with updated twists and tweaks.  Each attack seems faster, more fluid, harder hitting, and looks oh so nice.  Sometimes, they work too well, and if you hit a button combo that launches you into a longer lasting attack, well, you’re indisposed until the attack finishes.  With proper combo and button control, this isn’t really a problem, but when you’re facing a tough group of multiple enemies, one slip up can lock you in a chain of enemy swords to the face, which is no bueno.

These bastards are the worst
                                                 These bastards are the worst.

That’s minor though.  As are most of the complaints I have with the game.  The biggest problem I had was the sound.  I don’t think the problem was on my end, because I tried it on multiple TVs, but either the music volume was set to jump up super high while dialogue was occurring, or the dialogue was just recorded way too low. Whatever it was, there were more than a few times when the cut scene dialogue sounded like someone shoved a sock into Kratos’ mouth.  It was slightly annoying, but in no way was it a game breaker.  It could have just been from the remastering, and I’ll accept that for the sweet job they did making it look pretty.

Besides that, my only other complain is, like any hack n’ slash, the replayability is lacking.  By now, I don’t let it influence me too much, unless the game just ends with no chance of going back and replaying.  This is not the case here.  You can jump back into the action, try it on a higher difficulty, unlock new stuff (there are tons of hidden urns and secrets) and try using the different weapons in each go around.

All in all, God of War II is a brilliant step up from the first game.  It looks better, the story is much more in-depth and rich, and you’re Titan powered!  Your journey is aided by your pumped up arsenal, and your much more potent attacks.  The puzzles require a bit more thought and patience, and understanding of which combos to use and when plays a larger part in your success of this game.  Sure, you can just smash your thumb into the controller and hope for the best, but you’ll die quite a few times.  Why not take some time and hone yourself into a slick, god-murdering machine?  It’s worth it.  Aside from an odd sound issue and the normal hack n’ slash pitfall of a lack of in-depth replayability, this game is a shiny gem of the genre, and of games in general.  Even more so now that it has been remastered for the PS3.  So, go ahead, get your Titan on.  They throw the best parties.  God of War II earns itself a solid A-.

I had to show this again.  She's got shrubberies all up on her Titanockers...
I had to show this again. She’s got shrubberies all up on her Titanockers…

Pros:

  • Deep, rich story
  • Buffed up gameplay, with new weapons, abilities, and sweet attack animations
  • New, non combat gameplay abilities like time slow, wing glides, and chain swinging
  • Titan Power!!
  • Revamped magic abilities
  • Stays potent in the Greek Mythos.

Cons

  • Weird sound issues during cutscenes
  • Hack n’ slash norm of limited replayability
  • Combo management can take some time to master, and failing to do so can cause some frustration

Grading:

Gameplay: 5/5

Graphics: 5/5 (For its prettiness as a former PS2 game)

Story: 5/5

Sound: 4/5

Replayability: 4/5

Overall: 4.6/5 A-

Beer Pairing:

If you remember, I suggested an IPA for my God of War pairing, because that particular brew sported the same outlying bitterness and harshness as Kratos does, but with a subtle sweetness that takes some time to realize, just like everyone’s favorite red war-painted Spartan.  Well, this time, I’m suggesting another IPA, but, where the previous was selected for its sweet notes, the current pairing has no time for that.

God of War II would go best with Stone’s Ruination IPA.  Why?  Because it is an out of control taste of bitterness, self questioning, and just all out horror at what is going on in your mouth.  It’s also quite tasty.  Like Kratos in the second game, this beer has replaced all his warmth (what little was ever there) for just pure hatred of just about everything.  Seriously, this beer gives just as many shits as Kratos does about the well being of anyone else.  And that number is 0.  The taste of this beer will likely be hated by quite a few people, but if you remember that Kratos is fueled by pure Zeus Hatred in God of War II, maybe you can suck it up a little longer and smack that bearded old man in the face.

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