God of War Developed by: Sony Published by: Sony Rated M for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Nudity, Sexual Themes, and Strong Language For: PlayStation 2

Before getting into Sony\'s Greek mythology-based action adventure, it is best to get the appropriateness section out of the way right off the bat. To be clear, this is a game that is outstanding as a production, but also contains appropriateness issues in every category.


- People killing people in cold blooded murder (-5 pts) - Blood sprays on the wall and everywhere else (-2.5 pts) - Gruesome details (-2.5 pts) God of War sports piles of dismembered bodies and a whole lot of blood. Many enemies can be destroyed by Kratos, the game\'s protagonist, with finishing moves that rival Mortal Kombat in their creative - and sometimes darkly humorous - gore. Heads are twisted off, bodies ripped in half, and swords shoved down throats. Most of the time, these ghastly acts are inflicted on non-human creatures, but there is some murder of innocent humans thrown in for good measure. In one level, for example, there are crowds of panicked civilians, and killing them grants extra health. There is also a hefty dosage of blood in the game, which splatters everywhere during battles. Furthermore, some puzzles require Kratos to pull the heads off of dead bodies, and one section even requires him to make a human sacrifice in order to unlock a door.


- Swear Words found in a R-rated movie are used in the game (-5 pts) There is strong, R-rated language in the game, specifically during the \'making of\' bonus content that comes on the disc.

Sexual Content:

- Partial Nudity (-4 pts) - Characters are heard having sex off-screen. (-4 pts) There are topless female characters in this game, and though they are not frequent, they are there. In this reviewer\'s view, the nudity didn\'t seem to be gratuitous and it didn\'t serve any real purpose. Some enemies, like Medusas, also have exposed breasts, but these creatures are too hideous to stir any feelings of lust. Another issue in this category is the now-famous sex-minigame. At one point in the game Kratos finds too naked women in a bed. He then has the option to jump in with them. The camera cuts away and all the player sees is a vase bouncing on the nightstand, and the moans of the women can be heard. The player participates by quickly pressing buttons that are prompted on the screen. If the player does well, then the women reward Kratos with red orbs that he can use to upgrade his weapon. This odd, 30-second section is completely optional and was thrown in by the developers as a sort of joke. I\'m not sure how to calculate this into the official score, but since actually showing sex is -5, I\'ll just have it being off-camera as a 4 point deduction.

The Occult/Supernatural:

- Borderline magic (hard to tell if occult) is used by player. (-3.5 pts) God of War takes place in a world based on ancient Greek myths, so there are many gods that Kratos meets on his journey. The game\'s villain is Ares, the Greek god of war, and the goal is to eventually kill him. The gods grant Kratos magical powers, and one that he gets later in the game is the ability to summon dead souls to fight with him.


- Poor value decisions are promoted through the game, but not required to progress. (-1.5 pts) Kratos, as an archetypal antihero, is a very immoral character. He kills people who get in his way, and he is obsessed with getting vengeance, but once his history is revealed, his hatred towards the God of War is understandable. He also has done some very evil things in the past, but I won\'t spoil them here.


If you are still reading this review, and you are not completely put off by the content listed above, then you will find beneath the mature surface a well-crafted game. The game play, for its part, is a mix of action and exploration. Kratos explores ancient temples and war-torn cities while braving traps and obstacles and battling hoards of vile monsters. The combat system is a thing of beauty. Kratos primarily fights with the blades of chaos, which are serrated swords at the ends of chains. Kratos uses these weapons to perform dazzling, branching combos. Usually mashing the square and triangle buttons is enough to get through a fight, but players looking for it will find a staggering amount of depth. The fact that the fighting is both deep and accessible makes it a joy for someone of any skill level. There is also a fair amount of platforming, and thankfully the controls are so precise that balancing on a pole or swinging from a robe are not as frustrating as they are in other action games that try to integrate these elements. There are even some puzzles, which are never too obscure and often are a blast. Nothing in God of War is ever as mentally stimulating as the brilliant puzzles in the Zelda series, but it is a nice break from what would otherwise be relentless action.


The graphics engine in God of War pushes the PS2 to the limit, and in doing so the developers have been able to craft the most beautiful world I have ever seen. From the marble temples to the stormy Aegean Sea, everything in this game looks like a dream. What is most impressive is just how BIG everything looks. The artists who worked on God of War have managed to bring a scope to the environments that we just haven\'t seen before. The temples are towering, and the deserts are vast. The cliffs are bottomless and the beasts are gargantuan. Even better, the camera always captures the most cinematic angle (I almost never had any problems seeing the action). Like the Jak and Daxter games, the game environment is one, continuous streaming world with no loading between areas. This is how all adventure games should be designed. Something must also be said about the animation. Kratos\' chain-blades flow with unprecedented fluidity, and the kill-animations are brutal; never before has pulling off a head looked so convincing. The animation brings the world to life and gives everybody from the animalistic Kratos himself to the most colossal boss an undeniable personality.


Brilliant. Every track sounds authentic and epic. If a player is gazing over a breathtaking vista, music chimes in to capture the wonder. If a player is slaying a minataur, the perfect minotaur-slaying music is pumping in the background. Every note fits the mood of the adventure. This could possibly be the best score ever to come out of a videogame. The voice acting is also of tremendous quality. Kratos\' voice is just as deep and testosterone-filled as it should be. Even better is the game\'s narrator, an old woman\'s voice that has some intangible quality of warmth and wisdom that brings another lair of character to the experience. This is truly Holywood-calibur stuff, my friends.


When I played, the game froze twice at the same spot, so it is safe to assume the is some bug that pops up every now and then at a specific point. Aside from that, the frame rate is as smooth as silk and the experience is practically seamless.


From a Christian standpoint, this game has serious appropriateness issues (the ESRB rating says as much), and because of that is definitely a game aimed toward adults rather than children. From a secular standpoint, God of War is near-perfection. One could complain that the experience is over too quickly, but the quality of the 10 or so hours it takes to finish the adventure is so high that the draw to replay the game is enormous. This is the sort of game that captures the imagination on every level. In short, the bar has been raised.

Final Ratings:

Violence: 0/10 Language: 5/10 Sexual Content: 2/10 Occult/Supernatural: 6.5/10 Moral/Cultural/Ethical: 8.5/10 Appropriateness Total: 22/50
Game Play: 20/20 Graphics: 10/10 Sound: 10/10 Control: 5/5 Stability: 4/5 Gaming Experience Total: 49/50

Final Score: 71%

Login Form



Please consider supporting our efforts.  Since we're a 501 C3 Non-Profit organization, your donations are tax deductible.