Kratos returns in the second instalment of the epic God of War series from Sony. The game promised to be bigger, better and more brutal than the first game - is it the God-like game everyone expected or a game for mere mortals? Lets find out........
The game is loosely based on ancient Greek myths legends and starts off right where GoW left off, with Kratos as the God of War having defeated Ares in the first game. What follows is a story of deceit and betrayal that sees Kratos stripped of his powers and immortality and subsequently his fight to exact revenge on the Gods of Olympus and his father Zeus.
Your journey sees you cross paths with numerous legendary characters and monsters all playing a part in Kratos's action packed story.
The tale moves at a fast pace and numerous cut-scenes and regular narration keep you engrossed in the story start to finish.
In a word - stunning; the variety of environments and the level of detail incorporated is astounding. Character models are also stunning ranging from Kratos himself to the giant sized titans that fill your TV. Once the action kicks in the screen is a blur of weapons, limbs and lots of blood - make no mistake this is a gore-fest!!
Cut scenes are beautifully drawn and animated, amongst the best on the PS2 which will probably not be bettered at this stage in the machines lifecycle.
Another fantastic graphical touch is the preset action sequences that Kratos performs when an enemy is on their last legs - these are particularly inventive and brutal at the same time.
Sound throughout the game is top class - the various musical scores used fit the setting and feel of the game perfectly.
In game effects are also superb from the stellar voice acting to the clashing of blades and sounds of battle.
The voice acting really stands out with each character, major and minor having a very distinct voice. Kratos definitely sounds like the mean ass-kicker he is!
If you are a fan of the first game you will know what to expect and basically you just get more of the same, more action, more weapons and more powers. One of the criticisms levelled at the first instalment were that although fantastic, the boss battles were few and far between. This has also been remedied in GoW2 and the game features a plethora of memorable boss battles at regular points during play.
The game doesn't really follow a level format as such, however there are distinct areas and environments to visit - due to the regular save and checkpoints you are able to dip in and out of the game at any point rather than having to restart a specific level. This also helps if you miss a jump or fall off a cliff - you generally restart very close to where you died.
Kratos have plenty of combos and powers at his disposal; you have various magic spells, a bow, a sword, a hammer and the obligatory blades of Athena. On top of this you can activate rage of the titans to deliver some high speed homicide or slow down time using the Amulet of the fates.
All of these lead to an almost endless amount of options when it comes to dealing out the pain, which is a whole lot of fun - my only criticism is that unlike the Devil May Cry series you are not encouraged to mix up the combos and be innovative and I generally found myself using the same effective few combos over and over. Compared to Devil May Cry, the combat engine lacks a little depth and I think some sort of style meter would have added another level of strategy to the fighting. This is both a blessing and a curse as the slight lack of depth means that the game is much easier to pick up and enjoy without the level of frustration found in the DMC series. To be honest both games are fantastic in their own right.
One thing that surprised me about the game was the number and variety of puzzle elements - these are well implemented and break up the action fuelled gameplay nicely. While never too taxing on the grey matter progress does require a little thought.
On normal mode the game is not too challenging although you may have to have a few cracks at some of the bosses however this never gets too frustrating due to the continues and restart positions. As such progress through the game can be fairly swift but your first play through should take 8-12 hours depending on your level of exploration.
Once completed there are plenty of extras to take on in the form of a new game plus, extra outfits to unlock, challenge of the titans as well as the increasing difficulties up to the unforgiving God mode. All of these extras will easily add another 20-30 hours to the game if you can stomach the challenge!!
If you want a top notch action adventure that looks, sounds and plays like a dream - then look no further. God of War 2 builds on the fantastic original and gives you blood, gore, action and enjoyment by the bucket-load. Surely this will be one of the last great games on the PS2 and shouldn't be missed!! Overall I give God of War 2 ................
9 out of 10