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God of War

The Book of Immortals

Companion to the Cosmos

Legend of Zu

Zu: Warriors of the Magic Mountain

Epic Level Handbook

Deities & Demigods


God of War (2005)

Okay, a little something different. A videogame review. But it is about gods, mythology and a mortal becoming a god, and if thats not relevant to this website then I don't know what is! Not to mention it gives me an excuse to hypothesise on some of the games creatures and items. ;-)

I should first give thanks to Scott Majury for the loan of both his Playstation 2 and the God of War game. Of course it appears that he has since wiped the memory card of my progress (game completed on all difficulties, including the unlocked God-Mode/Very Hard difficulty) the fool!

Its a few months ago that I played this game, but its still fairly fresh in my memory, a testament to how much of an impression it makes on you.

God of War is an action-adventure game viewed in a semi-fixed third person camera. The screen can pan left and right or forward and back, but it doesn't rotate. At first I thought this lack of camera control would hurt it, but it actually serves to keep you focused on the action element which is the main thrust of the game.

First impressions are fantastic. The opening level is jaw-dropping with boss related action right from the get-go, as you take on the Lernean Hydra.

The Good...

The game looks great. Everything here is larger than life, from the backdrops to the menacing creatures. The scale of the game sometimes takes your breath away. In a word 'epic'.

The design is tremendous, and although the backbone of the game has its roots in classical mythology the design never feels stale. The hero, Kratos, more of an anti-hero really, has the right amount of attitude, self-loathing and equipped with the rather unique Blades of Chaos, two chain mounted swords attached to Kratos arms, the designers have created a potential modern day icon.

Both the score and the voice acting are superb, although the sound effects (specifically in relation to the monsters) were not particularly memorable.

The game plays brilliantly. While at first it appears as little more than a button basher, the harder difficulty settings force you into embracing the idiosyncracies of the combat system, with blocking, grapples, throws, counters and juggles all becoming a necessary part of your repertoire. As such it becomes a far more gratifying and involved experience.

Incidentally, my highest combo in-game was 168 (in the meat-grinder section after you pick up the Shield of Hades), although I scored 273 against the statue of Ares when you ascend to Mount Olympus at the end of the game, but that doesn't really count since its a static target.

One interesting facet of combat are the little 'quicktime events' that precipitates the death of each monster, allowing you to perform special attacks (unique to each monster); such as ripping the head off a Medusa or blinding a cyclops for instance. These add another unique element as often these 'finishing moves' yield bonus health, magic or experience points.

The story is one of the strengths of the game, unfolding over the course of the game through a series of graphically explicit flashbacks. The story, like the game, pulls no punches, with nudity and extreme violence - so its not one for the sqeamish or young children. But if ever a videogame deserved a movie its this one, and it appears the movie rights have already been sold. Hopefully Vin Diesel will get to star, the part of Kratos was made for him, right down to the gravelly voice.

At around seven-eight hours to complete, there is enough to chew on, while still being brief enough for casual gamers to finish and tight enough that the game always seems fresh. Also the unlocked movies and extras, unlike most other games, are actually worthy of merit. Especially interesting were those on the various design aspects and the extra cut scenes of where they could be taking the character next.

The Bad...

On normal difficulty the game can practically be defeated just by mashing the buttons. While this makes it more approachable for novice gamers it can feel underwhelming for the more experienced among us. However I would still recommend that even experienced gamers play through it on normal difficulty first, to learn all the nuances of the combat and better familiarise themselves with the environment and location of the hidden chests.

The relative lack of bosses in the game (you really only fight three in the entire game) almost hurts it, but most of the basic creatures are introduced in (often gory) cut scenes, giving them a chance to shine. In a way this adds a sort of gravitas and they take on a sort of mini-boss persona.

The Ugly...

The post-shapechange Sirens shark-toothed maws reminded me of some dialogue from Army of Darkness...

Evil Shiela: "Thou did find me beautiful once."

Ash: " got real ugly."


Okay, I am sure you will find better hints and tips for the game online but there are about half a dozen or so particular sections where you will get utterly wrecked if you are not prepared.

1. The first rope-hang fight in Athens, where soldiers attack you from both sides. The trick I found here was to drop off the rope once you get as many warriors onscreen as possible (just before they reach you). Although you fall about 100 feet you don't get hurt (Cats Fall?). Then just climb back up and take on the warriors (they are easy as long as they don't hit you from both sides at once). You may have to repeat this tactic two or three times.

2. The rooftops of Athens, the first encounter with wraiths. Basically the problem here is that you face some very tough fights in succession before you can get any health. Use throws (since that makes you temporarily invulnerable to attack) or Medusas Gaze on the wraiths (who turn to stone very easily) and when you go up the stairs take on the enemies from behind the partition (where they can't hit you but you can hit them).

3. The dozen Medusa fight in the Challenge of Atlas (within the Temple of Pandora). Make sure you have full magic and rage of the gods and have Poseidons magic powered up to level 2 at least. Dodge those gaze weapons like crazy.

4. The meat-grinder section just after you pick up the Shield of Hades. This comes soon after the fight with the Medusa and again you will need rage of the gods available again (so don't use it in between now and then) and Posiedons magic at level 2 or better.

5. The battle with the Centurians, when you have to push the caged warrior up a slope so that you can sacrifice him to Hades. The trick here is to use Medusas Gaze to freeze the centurians, but you have to get them to bunch up, so back off and then use it when they chase you en masse.

6. The Cavern full of Cerberus pups in the Challenge of Poseidon. Use throws (especially the stomp attack which yields extra health) on the pups and occasionally, Poseidons Rage.

7. Conveyor Belt Madness just before you get Pandoras Box. The problem here is that you can easily wind up having to fight this battle with very little health, magic and no rage of the gods. I nearly cried my eyes out when I realised I had the game saved with 20% health at this point (and couldn't go back) because it is brutally tough at the best of times. However it was probably my finest hour (and I mean hour) of the game managing to get past this section. So my advice here is to be sure and keep at least one health and magic chest closed until you defeat all the enemies around the crane section (just after the moving platform/buzzsaw section) which includes (off the top of my head): four centurians, five cyclops and dozens of cerberus pups.

8. Battle with Ares, part #2: The Kratos Clones. Anyone who has played this game will know this part is the grand-daddy of death. No matter how good you think you are, you still need to be lucky to get through this. You will die. Don't panic and don't throw the joypad to the ground...unless of course its not your Playstation 2 in which case...*cough*...I mean never throw the joypad to the ground. The best strategy is to use the Plume of Prometheus move to trip the clones. Then use Rage of the gods followed by Army of Hades, Poseidons Rage x3, then Army of Hades again, and hug your family (transferring health to them and rage to you). Basically you need to gain rage of the gods twice more (temporarily giving you free magic) and perform the same Hades, Poseidon x3 combo of magic each time to even stand a chance.

In conclusion...

I must say I thoroughly enjoyed the game and would recommend it to anyone with a Playstation 2 who even remotely enjoys action-adventure games. I am eagerly looking forward to the inevitable sequel and the movie.

Judgement: 9/10

You can find the official God of War website here.

Dragon Magazine #328 (pages 68-69) has an article on God of War detailing the Blades of Chaos, therein retitled Anarch Razors. Although their description of the blades themselves seemed underpowered to me (naturally I suppose), one interesting facet of this was that they described the blades as minor artifacts, which got me thinking that perhaps every Pantheon has their own weapon based gift from the gods. The Norse Pantheon perhaps bestow Hammers of Thunderbolts for instance...I'll possibly explore a similar theme further in the Immortals Handbook: Grimoire. ;-)

List of Items:

The Blades of Chaos: +5 Anarchic, Keen, Lashing Adamantite Razors; Base Damage 2d6 (17-20/x2)

New Weapon Special Ability

Lashing: This property triples the reach of a melee weapon. The exact nature of this extended reach changes from weapon to weapon. Some snake out at the end of chains, others telescope out, yet others seem to teleport part of the weapon to the desired range.
Caster Level: 13th; Prerequisites: Craft Magic Arms and Armor, limited wish, Market Price: +3 bonus.

Pandora's Box: Upon opening Pandoras Box, Kratos becomes an Outsider and gains 15 Divine Ranks. Had Ares opened the box he would have become Divine Rank 30.

The Blade of Artemis: +5 Keen, Vorpal Adamantite Greatsword 2d8 (17-20/x2)

List of Monsters:

  • Undead Warrior - Death Knights (5th-level Human Fighters); wield +1 Humanbane Shortswords. Wear +1 Studded Leather Armour. Some carry +1 Humanbane Shortbows.
  • Harpy - as per Monster Manual
  • Undead Legionaire - Death Knights (10th-level Human Fighters); wield +2 Shocking Burst Bastard Swords. Wear +2 Scale Mail. Some also carry +2 Tower Shields.
  • Minotaur - Minotaurs (10th-level Fighters); wield +2 Huge Battle Axes of Mighty Cleaving.
  • Minotaur Elite - Minotaurs (15th-level Fighters); wield Huge +3 Warhammers.
  • Cyclops - treat as Greater Cyclops (10th-level Fighters); as per Deities & Demigods.
  • Cyclops Elite - treat as Greater Cyclops (10th-level Fighters); as per Deities & Demigods
  • Medusa - as per Monster Manual
  • Wraith - as per Monster Manual
  • Siren - ?
  • Cerberus (large) - treat as Three-Headed Nessian Hell-Hound; as per Monster Manual (Nessian Hell Hound) and Savage Species (Multi-headed Template)
  • Cerberus (small) - treat as Hell Hound; as per Monster Manual
  • Undead Centurian - Death Knights (15th-level Ogre Fighters) wield +3 Bastard Swords and +3 Scythes. Wear +3 Full Platemail.
  • Centaur - Centaur (15th-level Fighters) wield +3 Brillaint Energy Composite Shortbows.
  • Satyr - Death Knights (20th-level Gnoll Fighters); wield +4 Double-Swords of Speed. Wear Bracers of Armour +6.

List of Templates:

  • Feral (Savage Species) - some Minotaurs and Cyclops have this template.
  • Fiendish (Monster Manual) - apply to all monsters encountered in the Underworld.

List of Bosses:

  • Lernean Hydra - treat as Teratoid 40 HD Five-Headed Lernean Hydra; as per Immortals Handbook Epic Bestiary Volume One (Teratoid template) and the Monster Manual (Five-Headed Hydra).
  • Armoured Minotaur (Baphomet?) - treat as Behemoth, Fiendish 24HD Paragon Minotaur; as per Immortals Handbook Bestiary Volume One (Behemoth template), the Monster Manual (Fiendish creature template) and the Epic Level Handbook (Paragon template). Wears +6 Platemail of Heavy Fortification.
  • Ares - as per Deities & Demigods.

Other characters:

Kronos, the last of the titans: Even though you never get to fight Kronos according to my calculations, he is something like 1120 feet tall, which makes him Macro-Tiny Size. He should be something like a Teratoid 560 HD Elder Titan; as per Immortals Handbook Epic Bestiary Volume One (Teratoid template) and the Epic Level Handbook (Elder Titan).

Kratos: Begins game at 21st-level Fighter, by the time he reaches Ares hes a 40th-level Fighter. My reasoning being that he gains a potential nineteen power ups over the course of the game, by which time he is Ares equal in skill, though not raw power.:::

Unless stated otherwise, all content © 2001-2006 Craig Cochrane. All rights reserved.