I really liked God of War. No, wait, I take that back, I fricking loved God of War, so much to the point of mimicking Kratos in my home as well as speaking to family as if they were mere disciples in Ancient Greece. Foul beasts, dinner is served! So, I may have crossed the line a little, but several million fans worldwide could agree with me that it was quite possibly the greatest action game they've played in recent memory. It's been proven that flailing that anti-heros "Yoyos of Death" through the skulls in the undead, only to juggle them endlessly mid-air with matching spartan grunts and moans to fit the mood.
So as a fan, there's much to be expected out of God of War II. Because most sequels tend to be a much duller experience than the first game, if the first wasn't already excellent. It's usually a spell of more of the same bells and whistles with some unneeded expansions of weapons and RPG-like elements. What more could developers build to add to an already perfect experience?
Tons, it seems. The latest trailer of God of War II was released to the public this week and showed a bevey of new tricks up Kratos' sleeve. First, the narration tells of Kratos' fate following the afterevents of the first game, leading him to obviously be crowned the God of War. Though such a crown isn't without its few thorns in the helm, a crown which seems to fit Kratos as more of a curse. Much to no one's surprise, Kratos is willing to put everything on the line and risk an eternity of torment to avenge his death and change his fate. Touching, we know, but its the kind of badass yackering we expect from someone so merciless and vengeful.
Though the trailer was the same usual quick flashes of new gameplay events that generally don't show much, to veterans of Kratos' first venture around Athens, there's a whole lot of new elements to be excited for in God of War II. Even if Kratos doesn't really have any sleeves, he has a ton of new tricks up his, well, biceps, such as grapple hooking and using a ginormous thunder hammer of doom. Staple elements from the first game seem to be back, so it should be a pleasant mix of what made the first game so good while adding some new locations to keep the gameplay fresh and interesting.
This looks like the last true killer for the PlayStation 2, so let's hope it goes out with a bang, instead of being a best kept secret as advertisement for GoW II has been lately.
··· Patrick Butler
Last Update: 9/7/06
SCEA has given us a small showcase of new God of War 2 screenshots. Normally you'd have to interpet the story on your own, but *surprise* an added resource was included in the assets file describing the in-game action. Although, it should be noted that the latest screens weren't actually posted in order and I deeply apologize for anyone looking to follow along as if it was storytime. I promise to be on the ball next week! Enjoy!!!
··· Chris Scantleberry
The Barbarian King Boss (the same character that almost kills Kratos before the intervention of Ares during God of War ) has returned for the underworld to change his fate, mounted on his hell spawned horse, he makes a very deadly foe - he is intent on charging and running down Kratos. Making him pay for defeating him in the past. But the Barbarian King did not come back from the underworld alone. He brought his minions back as well, forcing Kratos to dispatch them by chopping off their legs and then cutting off there heads, in order to get at the Barbarian King himself.
Since there last encounter, Kratos has a few new tricks of his own. Using the wind bow magic in an attempt to beat on the mounted Barbarian King while keeping him at a distance, in the hopes of avoiding his deadly charge attack. It is easier said than done. Now the Barbarian King gets really pissed off and after absorbing the souls of his dispatched minions grown to a size towering over Kratos. After dealing blow after blow to the Barbarian King, Kratos is able to weaken the Barbarian King to a low enough state to engage him in a final mini game struggle. But look out, even in his weakened state the Barbarian King along with his Hammer is still very formidable foe. Kratos has to react fast to avoid being pummeled by the numerous hammer swings. The Barbarian King will not die easily a second time.
Last Update: 5/26/06
The Basics: Kratos is back to raise more Hell in Sony Santa Monica's God of War II for PS2, which was on display at E3 in a nice lengthy 40 minute-plus long demo. Gamers lead the anithero on a rampage through the ruins of what looked like an ancient Roman temple, slashing enemies, dodging hazards, and solving light puzzles. And slashing more enemies! The demo was very faithful to the original game in both mechanics and visual style, and Kratos had his old standby dual Blades of Chaos to flail around on chains once again. Though this is a direct sequel that picks up right after the first game and features the continuing exploits of Kratos, the developers hinted that another playable character could be a possibility.
The combat was relatively unchanged from the original, with button mashing combos and finishers flying fast and furious. Kratos can still literally rip an enemy limb from limb if you hit the right buttons to match the onscreen prompts. There were a few new additions to the gameplay evident in the demo: now Kratos can pick up dead bodies to use in puzzles, putting them on top of pressure plates and the like, or could even stealthily hide them a la Sam Fisher. “This is something we just put in the demo for fun, but it might end up being part of the final game,” chuckled a developer. They're also focusing on more interactivity with the environment this time around, with more destructible columns, trees, bridges, and other background objects. Often puzzles require you to manipulate (or outright demolish) the scenery in order to trigger an entrance to the next area. And the scenery can fight back! E3 attendees were startled when hitting an innocuous looking pile of rocks prompted it to spring to life, forming a massive Rock Minotaur that wasn't too happy with the rude awakening.
What we think: The “If it ain't broke, don't fix it” mentality seems to be driving this game, and it's proof that not every sequel has to reinvent the wheel to be satisfying. God of War II could well end up being the PS2's last hurrah, and even though it will technically be on “last gen” hardware by the time it releases next year, the graphics are an example of the very best on the platform. Animation is extremely smooth and polished, and the enemies' hit routines are brutal. One example took place as Kratos was going across a rope bridge, swinging hand-over-hand. Lizard men climb the bridge from the opposite side and attack, but it's no problem for Kratos to dish out a beating even with one hand occupied. As your blows and kicks rain down upon the enemies, they visibly take damage and begin to dangle from the rope, semi-conscious, then drop to their death. These little flourishes abound in the game.
The mythical monsters that Kratos battles are now more pissed off and diabolical than ever before. You have regular enemies that would qualify as bosses in weakersauce action games. “What would you call that Minotaur? A mini-boss? A sub-boss?” I asked as I was taking notes. “Nah. He's just a regular dude. Wait 'til you have to fight more than one at a time,” smiled a developer. The same was said of a huge three-headed Cerebus monstrosity. While veterans will be able to jump right in and have Kratos kicking butt in no time, there are a few new moves in his arsenal, courtesy of the Golden Fleece powerup that is acquired in the demo. He can now reflect projectiles, beaming Medusa gazes back to turn them to stone, parry regular attacks, and absorb and shoot back enemy fire.
The developers said that their approach to the sequel was not to reinvent the wheel: “We want to take what worked before and push it even further.” Judging by the huge topless (and I mean topless) Medusa boss that crashed through a wall and confronted Kratos at the end of the demo, I'd say they're not kidding around! God of War II looks like it will push the PS2 to its limits on all fronts when it releases in February 2007.
··· Edward Boyke
Last Updated: 5/3/06
Just in time for the upcoming E3 event, we've come upon the first batch of online screenshots of God of War 2 and man, is this game looking quite sexy. We'll let the visuals speak for themselves, but be sure to check back with us next week for a more in-depth report. Enjoy!
··· Chris Scantleberry