Games That Nobody Plays Anymore: God of War II

[Games That Nobody Plays Anymore is a weekly series written by Nathan Hardisty with a little title card help from Juan Houter. It’s an on-going series about the forgotten games of yesteryear, and doesn’t totally reflect the title. Remember; nobody stops playing these games; it’s just a title. Don’t make something of it or I will come down to your house and ask you politely to stop. If you have any suggestions for future titles to ‘GTNPA’ don’t forget to leave me a comment!]

With Ares slain and the god of war’s throne all in on his buttocks, Kratos decides to do the reasonable thing and beat people up. He calls all the Greek Pantheon names and then goes down to Earth to wreck everybody’s life and destroy towns and generally being the biggest asshole in the history of forever. That is of course excluding Paul McCartney. Wait, did I just make a joke? Oh my god, I’m growing up! Yes! Anyways, God of War II is my favourite gameplay wise but I think it suffers from a lack of pacing. It feels sluggish in comparison to its big brothers.

You see for all of God of War III’s faults, it manages to pull of integrating the epic scale of God of War into the actual pacing. Bosses get bigger in scale and the lead-up to Kronos is a real highlight. In God of War II some set-pieces repeat and you feel like you’re trekking the same place for ten hours before going back in time and causing a paradox and also ripping on Zeus. Some of the pacing is done well towards the end but otherwise I feel like it really is slowed down and there’s quite a few things wrong in every department really.

I feel that the third God of War makes the most mistakes but the least trips, so to speak. It attempts and does things right but the parts in which it makes no effort bring it down to mediocrity level. In God of War II it has the burden of carrying the next game story on its back. I see the first God of War of being an enclosed story (kill Ares, get rid of nightmares, oh my god what have I done, basic Greek tragedy done BRILLIANTLY) but the other two are… break Zeus’ head open. That doesn’t allow for much in the way of pacing. Obviously God of War I had you on your quest to kill Ares but that took you places, in God of War II you’re pretty much in the Temple of the Fates for ten hours.

That’s not to say it’s a bad game, it just falls flat where the first one excelled. In fact in some respects a sequel feels unnecessary. Kratos went on the path of a Greek tragedy and ended up falling from the highest of places to the lowest of guilt. He was belittled and guilt is the thing that renders the warrior pathetic and without purpose, for all intents and purposes, his ascension into the Greek Pantheon should’ve left him weak but contempt with what he had done. It’s not that I wouldn’t appreciate a sequel but the massacre of Greek characters can only go so far, I don’t see why they didn’t go after the Egyptian gods and goddesses and murder the frick out of them instead to keep things more than fresh.

The combat feels more streamlined, in my opinion, although that’s maybe because God of War II clearly got more of an upgrade in the Collection than the original. In the original I used the big blade as well as the blades of chaos but in numero two I really didn’t bother switching up the ante. I think that the magics available are the best in the series and the combat is flawless in what it does. There are some minor annoyances and another “Endless Harpes spawning.” Room, in this case big giant dogs that make little dogs that turn into big giant dogs which make little dogs which… etc. But disregarding that, the game plays probably the best in the series.

To be honest I think the original God of War vision died when the second one came into fray. Not to hate on any of the designers or anybody who worked on the titles but it just… it’s missing that magic. Not the David Jaffe magic but that level of freshness. Kratos is such a well characterised guy by the end of God of War I that it’s hard to then take him apart and make him a complete psychopath with no redeeming value towards the player. They really should’ve taken the series in a new direction… and I think we saw this stagnation more so in God of War III than number two. I’ll be tackling that beauty next week.

Next week: God of War III

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