God of War

God of War 2 Review: Bigger and Generally Better

God of War 5 - God of War 2 Review: Bigger and Generally Better

Ever since beating God of War 2018, I felt afterward I should go back and play the original trilogy to see how Kratos started his journey. A few months ago, I started the first God of War and was pleasantly surprised. The combat was overall fun and fast-paced and the story was very good for a game released back then. What holds it all together is its presentation, mainly the Greek aesthetic, hyper-violence, and the “epic” tone. God of War II is mostly all that and even more. The first game felt like a proof of concept while the second game is a confident expansion of the ideas put forth. Here’s the Good, the Ugly, and the Bad of God of War II.

The Good:

– The game looks quite good graphically. There are many well-detailed environments, decent animations, and little to no problems with the framerate. You can tell they reused the same engine and some assets from the first game, but overall, it is executed well. The pre-rendered cutscenes in particular look great even today.

– The combat is definitely an improvement over the first and is the highlight of the game. It is still as satisfying as ever to combo enemies and rip them apart with action QTE’s or other means. Kratos controls roughly the same as the first game but somehow, he feels just slightly faster and smoother, which helps more than you would think. Enemies are thankfully not as damage spongey as the first game which was a massive improvement.

– I enjoy the new weapons that the game gives you. Of course, the Blades of Chaos (or Athena or whatever) are still your primary weapon but you obtain a slow but powerful hammer that is great for small enemies, a spear for mid-sized enemies, and the Blade of Olympus. I found use out of all of them and enjoyed powering them up and experimenting. The Blade of Artemis in the first game was fine but it felt kinda just there. The weapons in this game make a much better impression.

– The rage meter was significantly improved by letting you turn it on and off. You could only use it when the meter was full in the first game which discouraged the player from using it.

– I noticed the game was a bit more difficult than the first. The enemies can be quite aggressive and wear your health down much quicker. The combination of enemies makes it, so you have to juggle all their different attacks which is fun but pressuring. The final boss fights were also quite tough, and I admittedly died a few times.

– The boss fights are a massive improvement to the first game. The first game had only 3 bosses in total while this game has over a dozen. They’re some of the best parts in the game, especially the duels where you go one on one with another champion like Perseus or Theseus. They never overstay their welcome too, great pacing in general.

– The opening and final acts of the game are easily the best parts of the story. Kratos shown to be as bad as Ares, his duel with the Colossus of Rhodes, the betrayal by Zeus, it is all a classic stuff. I can imagine at the time how epic it must have all been. The final act is great too, with the climatic duel with the Sisters and Zeus. If there is one thing the original trilogy seems to do well, it’s big, bold spectacle events.


– The music is still great. It’s basically the same style as the first but that’s in no way a bad thing. My favorite track from this game is

The Ugly:

– This is a nickpick, but Kratos’ eyes look weird in this game, they’re a bit too squinty and oddly shaped.

– Like the first game, dodging enemies can be a pain in the ass sometimes. With the camera zoomed out and restricted, all the flashy animations, and with little reaction time for some attacks, it can feel a little cheap being comboed. It is not too much of a problem but when it does happen, it’s quite annoying.

– The Pegasus sequences are just there. They’re fine but there’s only two and only during the first half. They’re just there.

– I don’t mind the game being short, but I think an extra hour or two would’ve been nice. I think I spent more time on the first game than this one.

– Unfortunately, the overall story is not as good as the first game. Like I said earlier, the opening and final acts are engaging and climatic but everything in the middle is meh. Nothing happens for long stretches of the game besides a few flashbacks of Zeus and the titans. I liked those scenes, but they were sparse and didn’t hold any kind of buildup for later events. The first game also had some long stretches in between plot events, but the goal of killing Ares is much more personal and understandable. The Sisters of Fate are the main goal in this game and they’re more of a tool in the end. Kratos does not have much of a personal connection and there’s no glimpses of humanity like you see of him in the first game. I would have also appreciated the Gods showing up more, Athena and Zeus only show up at the beginning and end! Seeing how Kratos acts normally around the Gods would give more buildup to Zeus’ betrayal and Kratos’ struggle imo.

– While I do like the music, I did notice it repeat a lot and even music from the first game would be used. I assume they had a tight deadline or something.

The Bad

– The first area you explore after being depowered is rather dull. Thankfully, it picks up when you get out of there.

– There will be some points where the game does a poor job telling you where to go next. Often there will be walls you can climb but they look the same as any other wall. This is one area where the camera doesn’t help.

– I’m fine with QTE’s during gameplay but during cutscenes? No.

– Also, like the first game, you do get the occasional poorly designed room or challenge.

And that is it for God of War II. This was definitely a step up in gameplay from the first and I’m glad Santa Monica improved on almost everything. The story was unfortunately not as good as the first, but we’ll see if they can salvage it in God of War III. Before that though, I was planning on playing Bioshock for the first time, I’ll have to see how that is…

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