It’s hard to even say much of anything about this game.
On the one hand, God of War did elevate storytelling in action adventure games to a higher level, perhaps one on which these types of games could begin to be taken seriously in terms of story as well as gameplay. The presentation as a whole was high caliber – the soundtrack was epic, the setting was ripe for a video game, the vistas were beautiful even for PS2 and the overall concept was cool.
On the other hand, the story only seems good when you look at the cliff’s notes. Anyone who actually knows mythology should be offended while playing this game. It can’t be more accurately described than to say that God of War is little more respectable as a story than any of the most cringeworthy fan fiction you can find on the internet. It doesn’t even matter what fan fiction. Whatever it is will only be slightly more atrocious than God of War.
It’s as if Santa Monica and Ready at Dawn just handed their 5 year olds Ovid or Ibycus or a mythology compendium and told them to write something similar. God of War visits and gives exposure to a plethora of mythological stories and the figures involved in them throughout the game. The problem is, all of those characters and whatever moral their stories existed solely to communicate with the author’s contemporary Greeks or Romans, are nothing but extras in Kratos’ one man Gallagher show.
It’s juvenile, tactless writing at its most disgraceful. Just legions of famous literary characters and innocents alike being slaughtered by Sony’s Gary Stu as they shit all over the source material. It may seem great to the uninitiated but it lacks the sophistication of the stories it emulates – there are no dark twists and turns and technically, everything for Kratos has a happy ending in the game.
God of War is the story of Kratos, a Spartan warrior who has served the gods for 10 years basically doing whatever asinine tasks they set for him, such as slaying the Hydra which is where the game begins. He is eventually offered redemption by the Goddess Athena in exchange for stopping Ares – the God of War – from destroying Athens, her favorite town and everyone in it because he’s gone mad with power and gives no fucks. However, because he’s a normal mortal Spartan guy, the only way he can do this is by opening Pandora’s Box – the one thing even the gods fear – and obtaining whatever power lies within. Also, Ares tricked Kratos into killing his wife and kids, so he’s really pissed off and it’s personal.
Combat is a combo based affair where Kratos spins the Blades of Chaos until everything dies, with a few interjections. Most stronger enemies will weaken, resulting in a set quick-time event where you press the obnoxiously huge button prompts on screen to watch Kratos kill something in a bloody cinematic, and then move on to killing the next thing. Where God of War’s button mini-game sequences become most offensive is during boss fights – they’re literally the only way to kill a boss. It’s a different way of playing than the traditional “kill it until it dies” method which dates back to the earliest days of beat-em-ups like Battletoads, TNMT or Simpsons, for sure.While quick-time events are an alternative way of injecting a cool, action-movie scenes into a game that otherwise gives the player no feasible method of such cool moves, they become a crutch the developers lean on any time they need to do anything in the game that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to do. The success of this game is going to lead to an industry wide cliche where quick time sequences replace actual gameplay.
Other than that, the rest of the game is just platforming and puzzle solving, going from point A to B until the end.