Jack's Favourite Games Ever – Part Nine: God of War
Welcome to part nine of my countdown of my all time favourite games. For those that missed the previous parts (shame on you!) I’ll be counting down, in no particular order, my 25 favourite games of all time. Please bear in mind that this list is purely my opinion, and therefore is likely to be different from yours. I’d love to hear what you think and which are your favourites too though, so please leave a comment!
When I think of games that defined the Playstation 2, there are plenty that come to mind. After all, the console was one of the most successful of all time and boasted an almost unrivalled library of games. A number of exclusives from that console will feature on this list (Shadow of the Colossus already has too), but one of the most defining for me, is God of War.
God of War has gone on to spawn a successful franchise and each of the sequels that have been released so far are all of a high standard. In fact, it was tough to decide just which of the core games to place on this list, but I had to go for the original. At the time, I’d never played a game like this. Sure there had been hack and slash games before, but God of War has since gone on to define the genre and I don’t think that there’s been a better example of it yet.
For those that haven’t come across the series yet, the God of War games tell the story of the Spartan warrior Kratos, who is on a mission of revenge to kill the Gods that had wronged him. Kratos has gained notoriety for his temper and his sheer power. When taking control of Kratos, the player feels all powerful as they hack through legions of enemies inspired by Greek mythology and finally take on the Gods themselves. God of War isn’t a game for the squeamish either. You’ll be brutally killing your enemies, decapitating them, mutilating them. And there’s blood. Everywhere. What’s more, as you progress through the game you’ll level Kratos up, making him EVEN MORE powerful.
What really impresses about the God of War games, and particularly the original, was the sense of scale. Some of the enemies are massive behemoths that require you to scale them, much like in the aforementioned Shadow of the Colossus. The Greek inspired locales are all filled with vivid detail and the game was easily one of the best looking available for the Playstation 2. Sure, the Playstation 3 entries took everything to a whole new level in this respect, but they didn’t radically alter the formula established in the PS2 original.
And to be honest, that’s because they didn’t need to. The mechanics of the original God of War were so finely tuned and polished that each subsequent addition to the series simply builds on them and adds more. The original game wasn’t perfect by any means. The final battle with Ares felt like an anti-climax, but that didn’t matter because the sheer scope and unrelentingly violent nature of the game that preceded it was so enjoyable.
Oh, and if God of War just sounds like a violent button basher to you, then you couldn’t be more wrong. Although this does form a substantial part of the gameplay, there’s also intelligently placed puzzles to keep your brain active and an intuitive magic system, with particular enemies being weak to particular spells.
God of War has been criticised in some corners because of it’s use of quick time events. Although these are infrequent, God of War is widely accepted as the game where these really came to the forefront, and they’ve been a bone of contention ever since. Having said that, in God of War they never feel particularly cheap or intrusive, and often come around as the result of the end of a difficult scrap, with Kratos performing an awe-inspiring (and brutal) finishing move.
For those that haven’t played the original God of War, I insist that it’s the best game in the franchise. It was re-released in HD along with it’s Playstation 2 sequel a few years back on the PS3, so you’ll likely be able to pick it up dirt cheap now. For those that love a good hack and slash, or want to see one of the most unique takes on Greek mythology going, this one’s for you.