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God of War II Second Opinion

Brad Gallaway's picture

God of War II  Screenshot

God of War II is a fine game, and definitely one of the most polished, playable titles available for the PS2. However, it suffers from the same significant (and possibly unavoidable) problem as its predecessor—an unlikable hero.

Technically speaking, the game is nearly beyond reproach. Besides an occasional awkward camera angle or the way the graphics suffered from minor "tearing" in certain areas, there's nothing to improve. As Brandon said in his review, it seems as though God of War II squeezes every bit of juice that the PS2 has to offer, and then squeezes a little more. I may be wrong, but I feel confident in saying that Sony's Santa Monica studios have maxed out the hardware and I'd be surprised if another house could make it do more.

From an artistic perspective, it's superb. Quite breathtaking at times, the adventure is stuffed with stunning vistas and fantastic imagery like the seething lava found boiling near a Gorgon's temple, the horrific Sister of Fate spinning life-threads, and the stony battlefield nestled among the clouds in the game's final confrontation. It's clear that these people have done their homework and have a love for what they're doing...the sense of scale and larger-than-life feeling that permeates every aspect of God of War II feels like a genuine fit for the mythology surrounding Zeus and the entire Olympian pantheon.

However, despite being so accomplished both technically and artistically, my feelings for Kratos the first time around still hold true. To be perfectly blunt, he's not a very sympathetic character, nor a hero that I feel any significant connection to. Constant anger and snarling every line of dialogue aren't elements that strike a chord with me. Although I can understand his motivation and the events that led him to each of his adventures thus far, Kratos doesn't even manage to feel like he's fighting for justice or righting a wrong—he comes off like a bloodthirsty villain, and although he may be a lesser evil compared to what he's up against, I find it hard to root for his victory beyond the context of achieving my immediate goals as a player. I was more motivated to solve the next puzzle or see the next monster than I was to help Kratos win the day.

God of War II is as solid as solid can be and will undoubtedly provide a weekend of thrills with the kind of cyclops-gouging, Pegasus-riding, and god-killing that most developers could only dream of producing. But, I see such an unsavory main character as a real barrier towards pushing the game into the upper echelons of super-stardom. Kratos may be able to dispatch any foe gruesomely and with extreme prejudice, but it takes more than raw brutality to capture my imagination and inspire loyalty. Instead of a glowing sword or a golden key, what this Spartan needs is a shred of warmth and humanity. Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Category Tags
Platform(s): PS2  
Developer(s): Sony Santa Monica  
Key Creator(s): David Jaffe  
Publisher: Sony  
Series: God of War  
Genre(s): Super Powers  
ESRB Rating: Mature (17+)  
Articles: Game Reviews  

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Kratos and Motivation

Kratos isn't just any ordinary anti-hero; he's the supreme nihilist who quite literally defies the order of the universe and, in doing so, paradoxically (but not unexpectedly) comes off as the only consistently idealistic character in the game (kind of like Shakespeare's Iago...but for obvious reasons more closely resembling Milton's fallen Satan). All the other gods follow their various whims, desires and conflicting loyalties in that tiresome, predictably messy and distinctly Olympian manner, while Kratos on the other hand follows only one guiding principle - revenge - and thus embodies the very essence of defiant unbelief. To me, the opportunity to wreck havoc in a world governed by supernatural powers, and thus unseam the very fabric that holds the enchanted world togheter, seems like the perfect motivation to keep on playing! Come on, we have all saved the world enough times already in more games than we can count, and it really hasn't been this good being evil since Dungeon Keeper 1... ;)

i second that. Kratos is the

i second that.

Kratos is the definition of an anti-hero. That's the point right there really isn't it?

You're not meant to admire much about Judge Dredd either. He's a fascist, brutal policeman who dispense judgement and punishment unmercilessly however there's usually only one admirable feature that we empathise with.

Judge Dredd's blind sense of justice in a chaotic world.
and Krato's sense of fury, betrayal and revence by unjust Gods.

Who never sided with the robber's when they were playing cops and robbers on the school playground?

I find it really sad that

I find it really sad that this game has been given such a single minded review. The main character is the "god of war", maybe its me..but i dont suppose he's meant to be portrayed as a fluffy, lovable character. Most games focus on making their main characters lovable and easy to identify with. Is it such a problem that this game does'nt do that?

This is the fourth second

This is the fourth second opinion/review I've read from you and all I can say is you are an idiot. I have not agreed with one thing you have said. The problem with this game is there is an unlikeable hero? Are you kidding me? The things I have read from you are a joke and I hope you are not getting paid to review games.

You seem pretty keen on

You seem pretty keen on letting me know what a bad reviewer i am... fair enough. Would you like to provide some reasons as to why you disagree, this game or any other?

By the way, if you've read four and think i'm an idiot, all i can say is to go back into the archives and read some others... i've done a couple hundred, so maybe you'll agree with at least one or two of them.

If not, i guess i'm just not going to be your favorite reviewer. that's OK, opinions differ... one thing we suggest at this site is to get to know the individual writers, so maybe your views will be more in-line with one of the other Critics.

Brad's Second opinion

I tend to disagree with almost every one of Brad's reviews myself. But I still read them. He's sort of like the anti-reviewer to me - I read the reverse into what he says. That doesn't mean he's an idiot, it just means we have consistently opposed opinions.

To be perfectly blunt, he's not a very sympathetic reviewer, nor a reviewer that I feel any significant connection to. However, I don't hold those qualities against him. I guess that's us disagreeing again.

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