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God of War


by Charles "Chuck" Longer

I’m a new dad.  This means that playing video games has been knocked down the fun time priority scale by responsibilities like “changing diapers,” “cleaning up spit-up,” “cleaning up high chairs,” and “giving big hugs.”  (The last one, admittedly, isn’t so terrible.)

Needless to say, it takes a REALLY strong game to inspire me to commit my time to try and actually see it through to the end. 

I finished God of War, and I’m thinking about playing it again.

You are Kratos, an army general who sold his soul to Ares (the God of War).  In return, Ares has given you some ridiculous weapons and made you the world’s greatest warrior.  The cost?  You have become Ares’ pawn, killing at his command and losing all meaning to your life.

The other gods “have had it up to HERE with Ares’ hotshot antics,”¹ so they ask you for help.  Since gods cannot kill gods, they send you on a mission to obtain Pandora’s box, the only item in the world that can give a mortal enough power to kill a god.

The next 85% of the game is spent obtaining the box, and then the final 15% is spent fighting Ares.  In true game form, your history is revealed as you progress--why you made the deal with Ares, why you’re haunted by your past, and most interestingly, why your skin is ash white.  (Emphasis on ash here.)

But the true joy of the game is the fighting and gratuitous gore put on display.

A quick example:  at the end of the first stage, you face the Hydra – the three-headed sea-serpent that makes its livelihood destroying ships.  You impale two of its heads onto the deck of a ship with anchors.  Then, after repeated attacks, you throw one of your blades through the skull of the third head, jump on top of it, carve out one of its eyes, throw your other blade through its skull, then jump down and yank its head onto a broken mast, impaling it in the process.  With that done, you walk down its throat to save the ship’s captain b/c he has a key on his neck that you need.  But wait – you only came for the key, not the captain, so after yanking the key off his neck, you let him fall down the dead Hydra’s throat to his peril.

I actually called Bell the minute I’d finished the stage b/c I was so giddy with what I’d just seen.

And the rest of the game is just as solid.  As you work your way through Minotaurs, Medusas, Cyclops, and other mythological beasts, you destroy any and everything that might hinder your quest.

To be clear – the game isn’t faultless.  You don’t have the ability to free-roam throughout the mythical lands you travel; the gameplay is very linear and limits you to one or two routes to accomplish your goals.  In addition, you don’t have control of the camera as you play, so you’re limited to viewpoints defined by the game.  It took some getting used to (considering most big-time games give you total control of the cameras surrounding the character), but it didn’t hamper the overall experience.

To this day, Tony Hawk 2 remains THE game I couldn’t toss aside until I’d completed EVERY challenge for EVERY character in the game.  As Justin and Keith (the other roommate) can attest, I actually made it to a point where I could complete ALL the requirements for a level in one three-minute run.  It was the closest I’ve ever been to video-game-ninja-mastery.

That is, until I became the God of War.

Rating:  $40

Chuck is paraphrasing from the landmark 1998 hit action/comedy film "Gratuitous."


Chuck loves it when you say the words "mesh shorts."  Click here to send him a note.


Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  Buy this game right away, and don't ask me any questions as to why that's a good move.  A game experience that will almost guarantee repeated controller abuse, lots of ManScreaming and high resale value, you will assuredly play this bad boy for months on end. 

"$40":  Usually after games have been out for a while, they drop in price slightly, or can be bought for slightly cheaper in combination with other new games.  Usually, that's about $40.  You'll feel good getting the game for this price, since it isn't quite run-out-and-get-it-right-now good, but it has enough game in the box for a few weeks' worth of enjoyment.

"eBay":  This game is not too bad, but you'd be better off buying it used from either or eBay.  You also might let a friend buy this game, let s/he beat it, and then try to buy it from them to make them feel better.  Yes, this does tend to feel like "Sloppy Seconds."

"Rental":  Like my cousin Ron, you should always rent games that you aren't sure about first, to make sure that your $50 is going towards something worthwhile.  For games in this category, this is the maximum amount of money ($5) and/or time (3-5 days) you'll need to either gain satisfaction from the game, or beat the game in its entirety.  Rental-rated games are also sometimes perfect for a weekend when you are going to be at home on your ass, with some time to kill.

"Dogshit":  Games like this should have never been released.  If you play this game for any reason, you will regret every second of the experience.  Further, if you can get this game for free, don't do it, because even for FREE, it will still be a negative experience for you!

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09