Developer: Sanzaru Games, Santa Monica Studios
Release Date: 05/06/2014
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Kratos and God of War are a PlayStation icon and symbol for what the system can offer. This game was the biggest hit in 2005 and I went nuts for it like everyone else. It reinvented the action-adventure genre like no one else had with epic boss fights, cinematic combat, and insane level design. We finally get all of this in portable form on the Vita. While it isn’t the most ideal version it’s still plenty of fun.
God of War is really starting to show its age and flaws these days, that is really clear. It was a new idea, however well executed, but still had some issues. The game isn’t quite as epic as I remember thanks to newer games in the series being insanely huge. There are only two big boss fights in this game and I could swear there were more. The game is brutal in spots, but still rewarding with many secrets and areas to explore.
You play as Kratos, a Spartan general who cried out for Ares to save him and defeat his enemies, but this all came at a huge price. I won’t spoil more of the story if you have never played this series, but longtime fans know it already. The game has amazing combat which is what was praised so much 13 years ago. Using the Blades of Chaos, Kratos can swing and spin them around with amazing animations and kill hordes of enemies. I’m not kidding about hordes, there are some scenes where you must defeat nearly a hundred enemies which is brutal.
The enemy variety is also great as there are small easy enemies to huge lumbering Cyclops that takes many hits to kill. God of War is famous for quick-time event kills. After so much damage is taken the enemies will display the circle button above their head. This initiates a quick-time button pressing even that will give you health orbs. Each enemy has their own unique animations. Each enemy is also a challenge on their own as some are dangerous on hordes while not so much alone. The level design is fantastic and the enemy placement is cleverly laid out to offer a challenge every step of the way.
The series is also famous for magic powers you acquire that are different with every game. You get four which become very useful for various enemies. Poseidon’s Rage is great for clearing hordes of weaker enemies as it’s an AOE attack. Zeus’ Fury is the only long-range weapon you get for picking off ranged enemies. Souls of Hades is like a shield, and Medusa’s Gaze is great for larger single enemies to turn them to stone. On top of the Blades of Chaos you also get Artemis’ Blade which is a powerful short-range heavy weapon, but once the Blades were fully upgraded, I honestly never really used it.
Outside of combat are puzzles that will sometimes slow you down. Most consist of pressing switches in order, climbing puzzles, or jigsaws. Pandora’s temple is a giant puzzle within itself that takes up a third of the game near the middle. I just can’t stress enough how hard this game can be. Some spots had me restarting dozens of times until I got it right and this included platforming sections. The first game’s Hell area is notorious for being brutally difficult. Having to balance on long spinning logs covered in blades and then climbing spinning spiked towers that stretch on forever is daunting, but rewarding when you do complete it.
Overall, God of War is still a blast to play 13 years later and is as well polished as I remember. Outside of hardware limitations at the time Sony did an amazing job creating what they did. There are some cheap deaths, unbalanced difficulty in spots, and the quick-time events do get repetitive, but it’s minor issues that can’t really bring the game down even today.
The Vita version is the only way to play this game in portable form, and it’s not the most ideal version. The PS3 version runs at a smooth 60FPS, but the Vita cleans up the visuals a little and does have some FPS drops when a lot of enemies are on screen, but it’s not often. I’m sad to see this game doesn’t hit 60FPS which it does even on PS2 sometimes, which keeps this game from getting a perfect score.