I was a bit hard on the first God of War for a number of reasons but I'll just right to my favorite for the sake of brevity. Precisely at the 2/3 mark, the game goes off the cliff of stupid and never recovers. Old school gamers all know when programmers can't come up with a quality challenge with regards to game bosses because all of a sudden the boss is a cheating bitch.
You heard me right - a cheating bitch. Which is what the final boss is in God of War.
That by itself would be one thing, but the road leading up to him is paved with suck. This would have been enough to get me to throw away the game and never touch it again but the previous 2/3 of the game were so epic and flawless that it boggled the mind. How could something so good go so wrong towards the end? My prayers were that the sequel would fix everything I hated about the original.
Apparently someone on Olympus was listening because God of War 2 kicks nine kinds of ass start to finish. The story of the fallen warrior Kratos isn't exactly deep. He's a resounding badass with an axe to grind against the Greek gods and throughout the entire story moans about how slighted he's been because of them. I'll be the first to admit Kratos isn't the deepest of protagonists, but the fact that you can rip enemies apart with your bare hands makes up for it. I love how much damage and destruction Kratos can cause right from the start, and the fact that you only grow stronger from there makes me love it even more.
Fortunately, the entire game is entertaining and not just two thirds of it. Despite what anyone said about it, I was determined to play through the entire game before rendering judgement and I have now completed it. The final boss is a challenge, but not absurdly so. It takes skill, knowledge of your abilities, and cracker jack timing to fell the final foe and this is as it should be.
But how epic this game in terms of size cannot be understated. The basic setup is that Kratos must journey to the Island of Time and consult the Fates to change both his past and future after Zeus screws him over during the bravura opening sequence. Kratos' entry to the island is beyond awesome, but then the camera pulls back and we see the island in its full glory. I swear to you now that I was unaware the PS2 could do the tricks God of War 2 pulls. This is easily one of the most gorgeous games I've ever seen and the sequence with the horses has to be seen to be believed. Ironically, this part was the one that almost sold me a PS3.
If God of War 3 hits the PS3 in the next year or two, it's almost impossible to imagine what the team responsible will come up with. I still think the PS3 is a $600 boat anchor, but God of War 3 could be the system-seller Sony needs. If it's anywhere as good as part two, they may have just sold me one.