01 January 2010
Some books keep you up at night. You plan to just read a few pages, or finish a chapter, but you end up reading into the early morning because you must know what happens next. This is also true of only the greatest of video games, and few compare to God of War.
You are enchanted from the beginning. The menu screen turns into the opening cinematic - Kratos committing suicide by jumping off a cliff into the Aegean Sea - as soon as you press play. This always impressed me. You knew right away you were playing a quality title, one that took everything - presentation included - seriously.
There's been as much ink spilled about this game as Kratos has spilled the blood of his enemies. If you're reading this you probably know the game beautifully blends intense action and fighting with puzzles, platforming and character building. The story is that of Kratos, a former captain in the Spartan army who sets out to kill Ares after the god tricks him into killing his own family. I won't pretend to be able to add some new wrinkly to the legend.
But I can tell you this:
I missed the PS2's lifespan almost completely. (I'll admit it, I'm just not a Sony guy.) But I knew I was missing out on some of the best titles ever made and decided to buy a used PS2. My wife and I had just bought our first house. The basement, or cellar, was an unfinished dungeon with cement floors and walls. I promptly placed an old couch down there along with a 10-year-old television and my Atari 2600. It seemed a perfect place for the PS2 (the big version) when I picked one up. God of War was the first game I bought. Despite having a shiny new Xbox 360 hooked up to a massive HDTV upstairs, I found myself spending the next week in the basement playing God of War. How could a game this good be on a system this old? How did they make the controls so intuitive, the fighting so deep and simple at the same time? Who wrote this terrific story and who are the voices behind these compelling characters?
The blood of my enemies splashed across the screen as I mulled these questions in the back of my mind. When I finished the game it struck me that God of War will likely remain one of the finest representations of what this medium has to offer. It has the courage to showcase relentless violence with no apologies. It features as compelling a story as you will find in popular fiction or film. Finally, it is presented as a piece of art built from the ground up by people who care.
God of War is what the Phoenix Games Project is all about. It is part of the canon of gaming.
By Victor Paul Alvarez