I cannot believe what David Jaffe and SCE Santa Monica can make a PS2 do. That’s the overriding impression from watching and playing God of War 2. It’s incredible – you’ve probably seen the videos of the fight with the Colossus of Rhodes, and that pretty much makes up the whole first level. And then the next one puts you up against Typhon, who is even bigger. At this rate the final boss will be the planet Jupiter or something.
Everything else is understandably going to be a bit of a come down after that – especially when it gives you the Metroid-style contrivance to which you lose all your superpowered abilities gathered throughout the original and are forced to re-aquire them – and when the action has to exist at a sane level it plays much the same as God of War. I’m yet to come up against any of the really frustrating sticking points that the first game had (that crate pushing towards the archers on the first level nearly made me give up) and the combat is still more concerned with being visceral than the mechanics. And I mean ‘visceral’ in the most literal sense possible.
That’s the main problem I have with the game. Like its predecessor, GOW2 is beautiful to look at and seemingly reliant on that, as well as the always-interesting Greek mythology, to drive me to keep playing. Combat, while improving as you go through the game and get more attacks and therefore more options, is a bit of a button mash. Maybe it was deliberate in that it reflects Kratos as a character – lots of shouting and saying things like “RARGH!” a lot, hence the earlier Hulk allusion – or maybe it’s just a bit basic. It seems like a better game than the first one because it hasn’t, thus far, moved me to try to destroy a pad, which is probably a good thing considering that the reviews reckon it’ll take about twice as long to finish.
So if a PS2 can do this, who needs next-gen consoles with HD graphics? Me, for one. But this proves that the old ones shouldn’t be thrown in the cupboard just yet. A tentative thumbs up from me.