Games that blew my mind: God of War on PS2
I've been gaming since the Atari 2600, well actually a little bit before that because my family did have a Pong machine as well. Too bad we sold that thing on a garage sale for 50 cents because a functioning unit (and those things were indestructible) goes for a lot of money to collectors these days. Over the years there have been a lot of games that I have enjoyed but there are some that stand out in my mind as being something that truly captivated me and are on my all time greatest hits. The original God of War is one of them.
These days I would imagine that just about everyone on the planet is familiar with Kratos but there was a time when he was unknown to most of the world and was a brand new and very interesting unlikely hero for a video game. I originally thought that Kratos was a made up part of Greek mythology but as it turns out he is actually a real, but lessor known part of it all. He is not the "god of war" though, but is rather just a personification of strength. He is also, from mythology, just like he is portrayed in the game, without mercy or respect for others. When you look at the history of the character, he is actually the perfect character for a video game and well, they did one hell of a job turning him into one of the most iconic video game heroes of all time in my book.
God of War on PS2 threw you straight into the action by basically putting you in a boss fight right out of the gate. They did some level of hand-holding in order to teach you how to play the game but it wasn't a cake walk, it was very possible to die regularly during this extremely exciting intro that is intense, gory, and brutal.
The game really doesn't let up from there either. Things get increasingly brutal as enemy kills become all about dismemberment and smashing. We were in a period of revolution as far as gaming was concerned because the PS2, which I believe is still the best-selling console of all time, had some real competition with the Xbox and Gamecube both dumping vast resources into competing in the market. Sega had the Dreamcast, which I thought was great, but they were on the way out of the scene permanently as a company at the time.
God of War went from being a bit of an outsider in the gaming world to one of the flagship games of the console very quickly. It is kind of easy to understand why Sony would be hesitant to back a game like this from the start because we were still in a time of relative innocence in gaming, where a game this obscene and graphic was still something that consoles were hesitant to fully back out of fear of backlash. Times were a changin' though because that sort of graphic and sexual content would soon become the norm in gaming.
The way that Kratos would kill certain enemies was just amazing if you are a fan of fatalities in games though, because while it was possible to simply slash enemies to death and have them vanish, there was something very rewarding about ripping an enemies eye out, or by slowly shoving your blade down their throat. When you were in these positions and had them locked in, the kill could not be interrupted by other enemies as well, which was a godsend because sometimes you would be fighting many enemies all at once.
For me, one of the things that made this game so great was that I actually was, and I think most people were, at least somewhat familiar with the mythological creatures that you would encounter while you were playing.
Medusa was something that I think everyone was familiar with and I took great pleasure in dispatching her but was a little disappointed in the perk that doing so gave you and I don't think I am alone in saying that I didn't really use the Medusa head to freeze enemies a great deal. It took to long and left you open to attack a great amount.
Kratos' complete lack of compassion for anyone was exhibited very early on when he is retrieving a key from someone trapped inside of a tunnel and while the man says "thank the gods for rescuing me!" Kratos says "I didn't come back for you" laughs, rips the key from the man's neck, and throws him down a pit to his death.
His brutality towards humans continues throughout the entire story as his battle against the gods has nothing to do with saving humanity, but only with personal gain and revenge. It is kind of fun to slaughter the hapless humans that appear in various scenes who believe Kratos is there to help them but if they are in the way he simply mows them down along with anything else in his path.
I suppose stuff like this is pretty tame by today's standards but back in 2005, having full on near topless women in games was a relatively new ordeal at the time and we got a real kick out of it. The fact that Kratos cared nothing for the women in the games and would actually shag them during optional parts of the game was really humorous and also a bit dangerous for the developers since the world was still kind of reeling from the attack on video games from governments around the world that started in the 90's with Mortal Kombat. Governments and perhaps parents hated it, but we kids (I was in my 20's) loved it. I don't know how this would be handled these days, there would most likely be protests of some sort that would ultimately fail because gamers gonna do what gamers want ta do.
There were some interesting locations that I found quite innovative such as an entire city that was built onto the back of an enslaved Titan. I don't know who comes up with this stuff but it was pretty fantastic to witness, especially since the PS2 was so much more powerful than any console that we had grown up with at that point.
God of War was a surprise smash hit that carries on its legacy to this day. I have enjoyed every single one of the releases immensely. The original GoW sold nearly 5 million copies, making it the 14th best-selling game for the PS2 ever. While I would imagine most people don't have a functioning PS2 lying around, you can emulate the game with a ROM like I did here. It takes some fiddling with to get it to work on a PC, but if you can figure it out, it is a fun trip down memory lane.
Were you there when this gem of a game was released? Did you you enjoy it / love it as much as I did? It's kind of crazy to think that this game was released nearly 20 years ago.