Wednesday, May 28, 2014

God of War II Post Mortem

God of War II
Published by Sony Computer Entertainment, America
Developed by Santa Monica Studios
Directed by Cory Barlog

What I liked about God of War was that as brutal and as action oriented the game was, it was just as much intelligent.  The really "great" games on the edge are like that, and the pretenders are easy to spot because you can't fake that kind of thing.  The original God of War made me feel like I was playing this epic mash up of Metroid(once you get to the Tower) and Clash of the Titans, mixed with the closest we ever got to a "Wolverine" like character outside of comics.

I was worried that God of War 2 would not live up to that.  I was wrong on most accounts.

When it comes to story, God of War 2 does increase and better it over part one.  There are several twists and a few foreshadows of what's to come in later games, but it does not forget the past either.  Even though we are firmly planted in what is happening to Kratos now, we get some resolving of story threads from the first one.  Kratos even confronts several of the enemies he's faced in his past, including an enemy he robbed of a great future.  On top of that, we are presented with Kratos as not only the godslayer, but the mythbuster as well.  It is really really cool that they got Harry Hamlin to reprise his role as Perseus from Clash of the Titans.

The level design is the top of its genre.  Not only are the puzzles satisfying, but several were of types I had not seen before in a game.  While the world did not feel so much like a Metroid, the world was very much larger and things did interconnect to each other as time went by.  The boss fights are, again, the top of the genre, with none of them repeating.  They even resisted the temptation of redoing the Minotaur(the best boss from part one) and instead stuck with making new bosses each and every time.

Gameplay is still rock solid, though this time there are more creatures that can interrupt Kratos when he's going nuts and swinging those blades around everywhere.  Instead of 1 sub-weapon, there are several now, though I did not like any of them nearly as much as the sword from Part 1; I stuck with Kratos' main blades the entire game.  Magic has also been redone, though again I kind of chose the Cronos stuff and stuck with it.  There is a new time slow mechanic that is really fun, and is the basis more for puzzles than for fighting.  The game also separates into these mini-games at times where the play is different than from the main game.  These segments are memorable, and the Pegasus one is the most enjoyable and impressive of them.

The HD remake that I played was flawless, and just like with part one, looks to have improved immensely.  I never spent a lot of time with part 2 on the PS2, but I played through part 1 a couple of times, and the HD remake of part 1 only enhanced the game, never took away.  The cameras are repositioned, the textures are tightened up, and the frame rate is rock solid locked at 60 frames instead of dipping below 30 on the PS2.  There is no reason not to play the HD versions over the original, it is a vast improvement in every way.  The only "jarring" part is that the cutscenes are many times still done in low resolution, so many times the cutscenes look worse than the actual game play segments.(the picture is of the God of War 1 remake)

They pretty much knew they were getting a part 3.  When God of War 2 came out, they were showing it at E3 alongside Playstation 3.  God of War 2 was the Playstation 2's swan song, God of War was going to be on the PS3 eventually, so they finish this one with a cliffhanger.  Luckily you can buy God of War 1, 2, 3, and the PSP prequels for 30 bucks and get all the story(Ascension is a prequel as well).

Basically it is what every big blockbuster in Hollywood believes a sequel should be: the same as the first but more more more.  While that kind of sucks in the world of RPG's, its pretty apt in the world of Kratos and leaves a satisfying experience.

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