|“||The Gods of Olympus have abandoned me. Now there is no hope.||”|
God of War is a video game for the Sony PS2 console released on March 22, 2005. As an action-adventure game heavily influenced by Greek mythology, God of War was developed by Sony Computer Entertainment's Santa Monica division.
It was very well received by critics and fans alike and was the recipient of many awards, including "Game of the Year" honors from the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences. IGN even named God of War the best PlayStation 2 game ever. The game is now available in the PlayStation 2's lineup of Greatest Hits. Thanks in part to the critical and commercial success of the original, a sequel titled God of War II was released March 13, 2007. In 2007, IGN named God of War as the greatest PlayStation 2 game of all time, on their Top 25 PS2 Games list.
God of War focuses heavily on bloody combat and puzzle-solving, much like Prince of Persia: Warrior Within. Kratos, the main character in the God of War series, uses an array of both weapons and magic powers to fight many different types of enemies, most of them based on creatures of Greek mythology. For the majority of enemies, Kratos can also initiate a minigame that involves precise button presses, analog spins, or button mashing, to finish off enemies with a bloody special kill.
Spread all through the game, and obtainable in various ways, are red experience orbs, which allow him to level up his weapons and magic powers. He can find Gorgon Eyes and Phoenix Feathers as well, allowing him to increase his overall health and magic respectively.
Throughout the story, Kratos obtains numerous weapons and powers from the various Gods of Olympus, many pertaining to classic Greek myths, such as spells like Medusa's Gaze, or weapons like the Blade of Artemis.
God of War is notable for its movie-like presentation. While most epic games suffer from immersion-breaking loading screens, God of War's story mode switches seamlessly from the title screen to FMV sequences, to gameplay, and back, with very little load time. The load times are masked by prefetching the next area as the player traverses a long, relatively featureless area.
The story is told mostly in flashback, after being framed with a scene from the present wherein Kratos, standing atop the tallest cliff in Greece, laments how the gods have abandoned him and then proceeds to toss himself into the waters below.
While the player starts the game three weeks prior to this event, Kratos' background is told by the Narrator during the game (revealed to be the Titan Gaia in God of War II). Kratos was a fearsome Spartan warrior and grew his fifty-man squad into an army of thousands via strategy, tactics, ferocity, and conquest. However, in a battle against a barbarian horde, his army was massacred, and, in a desperate measure, Kratos offered his life and service to Ares, the God of War, in exchange for Ares defeating the Barbarians. Ares, sensing the enormous power in Kratos, accepted his offer and destroyed the Barbarians. He also granted Kratos the Blades of Chaos, curved blades forged in the pits of Hades that were attached to long chains which were fused to Kratos' arms.
Kratos then became Ares' servant, leading his Spartan army in conquering much of Greece. In one battle, they came across a village that worshiped Athena and put the residents to the sword, and their homes to the flame. There, Ares put Kratos into a rage driven by bloodlust, making him kill anyone standing in his way. Despite his own foreboding feelings and the warnings of the local oracle, Kratos entered the village's temple and slaughtered all within. Unfortunately, after his blood-lust cleared, he realized that his two last victims had been his own wife and daughter; Ares explained that this village had been a test of Kratos' power, severing the last of his humanity. The village Oracle cursed Kratos, binding the ashes of his dead family to his skin; this new pale coating gave rise to Kratos' new title, "the Ghost of Sparta." and it made everyone in Greece fear him. Kratos renounced his service to Ares and began to wander the Earth, lamenting his deeds, while serving the other gods of Olympus for ten years.
The player becomes involved in Kratos' story as he is approaching Athena's city, Athens, under siege by Ares' army. While in the Aegean Sea, Kratos's ship is attacked by Ares's forces. After impaling the massive heads of the fearsome Hydra, Kratos is approached by Athena, who wants him to stop Ares and save her city. Kratos agrees on one condition; that the gods relieve him of the nightmarish memories of his past crimes, as well as allowing him a chance at redemption. Kratos fights his way through the attacking forces to find the Oracle of Athens and learns from her that only Pandora's Box can give a mortal the power to kill a god. Unfortunately, due to the gods' fear of this power, the box is locked deep within Pandora's Temple, constructed on the back of the Titan Cronos, whom Zeus cursed to wander the Desert of Lost Souls until the sands rip the flesh from his bones.
Kratos makes his way to the Temple, defeating many foes and evading the many traps built into the Temple by its crazed architect, Pathos Verdes III. He recovers Pandora's Box, but Ares senses his success, and throws a pillar from Athens to the Temple, impaling Kratos on a wall and killing him. As Kratos was pinned to the wall dying, Ares steals Pandora's box and Kratos is sent to the Underworld. However, Kratos is able to escape the Underworld with help from a mysterious gravedigger, who refers to Kratos as "my child". He returns to Athens, regains Pandora's Box, and confronts Ares.
When Kratos proves that he isn't just a mortal, after all, Ares makes a desperate attempt to drive Kratos mad by making him relive the death of his family. Opening a portal, Ares traps Kratos in an illusion. Ares recreates the temple where Kratos slew his wife and child, along with images of Kratos' Family. Ares then creates doppelgangers of Kratos which attack his wife and child. After this fails, Ares strips the Blades of Chaos from Kratos' arms, taking back the weapons he had given him after he proclaimed that he rejected a God like him, and impales Kratos' family with them with Kratos watching in horror. Freed from his own mind but without weaponry, Kratos is at the mercy of Ares until he spots a very large metal sword, which was formerly used as an ornamental bridge inside Athens. With it, he engages, defeats and kills his former master, the God of War.
After receiving the congratulations from the gods, Kratos asks Athena to remove the nightmares of his past. Athena explains that although the Gods mourn the death of Ares, the Gods are indebted to him and proceeded to forgive him for his sins; the nightmares, unfortunately, was not apart of what the Gods have offered to him for completing this task. Feeling abandoned by the gods, Kratos climbs back to the bluffs overlooking the Aegean Sea and, as the game comes full circle, tosses himself over the edge. However, as he breaks the waves below, he is pulled out by Athena. He has served the gods well, she explains, and there is a throne waiting for him that currently has no occupant: the throne of the God of War. Kratos makes his way to Olympus through a mysterious portal and claims the throne of The God of War.
- Kratos - The main character, a Spartan warrior and Demigod who swears revenge against Ares for betraying him and for making him turn his blades on his wife and daughter.
- Athena - The goddess of righteous wars and wisdom, she is the most prominent god who helps Kratos on his quest.
- Ares - The God of War who caused Kratos to murder his own family, and is now the target of his revenge. He is killed by Kratos at the end of the game.
- Village Oracle - An old oracle to the village that Kratos and his men burned to the ground. She bears a glowing Omega necklace, hinting that she works for/is Ares, and warned Kratos of going into the temple, as his wife and child were inside. She attached their ashes to his skin after their death.
- Oracle of Athens - A servant to Athena who seeks to help Kratos in his quest to vanquish Ares. It was she who told Kratos of Pandora's Box and where it was located, sending him through the Desert of Lost Souls to find The Sirens. Just before the final battle with Ares, the Oracle is found, dying and lamenting the fall of Athens.
- Grave Digger - A mysterious man digging a grave on the edge of Athens, his exact agenda is unknown but it turns out he is digging an opening to The Underworld, just in time for Kratos to escape from that place. It is implied that he is one of the gods of Olympus and might have been Zeus himself, this theory is furthered in Ghost of Sparta as the Grave Digger costume allows the player to play as Zeus, however, it is only possible to play as him in the combat arena.
- Body Burner - The first person to enter the Temple of Pandora and in his own words the first to die. Punished for his failure, the gods told him to burn the bodies of anyone who dies in the temple, he is immortal of spirit but not of the body, hence his rotting visage. Only the Body Burner can unlock the doors to Pandora's Temple for Kratos.
- Pathos Verdes III - This man was a zealot who - according to the Body Burner - lived only to serve the gods but went mad trying. He constructed the entire Temple of Pandora while slipping deeper into his madness and the rumor is that he's still alive, still inside, trying to appease the Gods who abandoned him years ago. Towards the end of Pandora's Temple, Kratos discovers that in his madness Pathos murdered his wife (fearing she would interfere with his completion of the temple) and then committed suicide. Pathos and Kratos share similarities in that they are both servants of the gods who lose their families and perhaps their minds in service to the gods of Olympus.
- Lysandra and Calliope - Kratos' wife and child, In the past they were the only people who did not fear Kratos, but sadly they were both killed by Kratos when he was deceived by Ares at the massacre of the temple of Athena. They reappear later as a cruel illusion forged by the God of War in an attempt to defeat Kratos in battle when Kratos proved stronger than Ares thought. They were killed again when the Blades of Chaos were commanded to impale them by their master, The God Of War.
- The Narrator - An unseen, omniscient voice that narrates the story of Kratos to the player throughout the game's cutscenes. In God of War II, it is revealed that the narrator is actually the voice of Gaia the Titan, who has been watching Kratos' exploits through the story in the first game.
- Undead Legionnaires - Ares' army of the undead. Dressed in the armor of ancient Greek warriors, they appear as demonic skeletons with bits of decaying flesh clinging to their bones. A frequently encountered enemy, they sometimes come in clusters and are quite varied; early on they wear little armor and wield short swords, but as the game progresses, they begin to appear wielding larger swords and wearing heavier armor and eventually end up wielding massive shields and scythes.
- Undead Archers - A unique variety of Undead Legionnaires, they engage Kratos in combat by attacking him from afar with flaming arrows that explode on impact, and carry no swords, shields, or other melee equipment. They usually appear either in pairs or in groups. Though their arrows are strong, and Kratos can easily be killed in a barrage of them, the archers are among the physically weakest of the legionnaires when engaged in hand-to-hand combat.
- Minotaurs - A species of anthropomorphic bulls, appearing to be about eight feet tall. They walk on their hind legs and carry a variety of massive axes. Over the course of the game, the Minotaurs that Kratos encounters become larger, more powerful, and more heavily armored and well armed. Kratos can kill them by thrusting a sword in their open mouths and out the back of their heads.
- Cyclops - Squat giants with a single eye in the middle of their foreheads. They resemble the stereotypical depiction of cavemen. They attack Kratos either with their fists or with giant clubbed weapons.
- Harpies - Monsters with the heads of bald, deformed women, and the bodies of bats. They usually appear in large groups to attack Kratos. Individually weak, they can easily overpower Kratos as part of a group attack. In addition to biting and slashing Kratos with their fangs and talons, they can cause their own bodies to start on fire and dive bomb Kratos.
- Wraiths - The vengeful ghosts of those who died in combat opposing Ares; utterly consumed by the rage in which they died, they now attack any living thing that comes near them. They appear as eyeless, emaciated humans with decaying flesh and bladed arms. Instead of legs, their waists terminate in clouds of black smoke from which they float. They can collapse themselves into this smoke and float around beneath the earth, exploding up from beneath Kratos' feet to attack him.
- Gorgons - Humanoid-sized, green, reptilian creatures with the heads, arms, and breasts of women and the bodies of snakes; instead of hair, their heads are covered by masses of writhing asps. They emit beams of energy from their eyes which can turn living things to solid stone.
- Sirens - Creatures which resemble deformed women with long bangs obscuring their monstrous faces. Dressed in flowing white tunics, they float around the Desert of Lost Souls, singing songs to lure treasure hunters to them, and then killing their victims. Their death shrieks emit sonic waves which reveal and open the path to Pandora's Temple. Another group of Sirens later attacks Kratos just before Pandora's Temple, and later on inside the temple.
- Satyrs - Giant, anthropomorphic goats 6-7 feet tall that walk about on their hind legs. Skilled warriors, they wear heavy armor and wield giant ornate staves with large blades on either end, which they either use as axes or to attack with spinning motions. They are the most skilled enemies in the game in terms of hand-to-hand combat, and the most capable of putting up a sustained defense against Kratos' attacks.
- Centaurs - Servants of Hades, they only appear in the section of Pandora's Temple built to honor him, and in the pits of Hades itself. They are half human, half horse; their human half is comprised of a demonic, armored man from the head to the waist. The waist transitions into a horse's body, the human half of the Centaur taking place of the horse's head and neck. They wield swords, spears and sometimes have bows and arrows which they shoot as they circle around you.
- Cerberus - Giant, three-headed demonic dogs/wolves about 8-10 feet tall that breathe fire. They are the most physically powerful enemy that Kratos faces aside from Cyclops. They can also spawn infant Cerberi, which rapidly mature into Cerberus if not killed.
- Cerberus Seeds - Tiny, puppy-like demonic dogs that breathe fire and are capable of curling themselves into a ball, engulfing themselves in flames, and lunging at an enemy. If left alive, they rapidly mature into Cerberus.
- Hydra - A massive multi-headed sea serpent. As the game's main narrative begins, Kratos has been assigned by Poseidon, god of the sea, to kill the beast, which has been challenging his sovereignty by destroying ships and killing sailors. Many of Hydra's heads attacked the fleet, forcing Kratos to battle them until he found the Hydra King, the central, largest head that controlled all others, which also heals the other heads. Kratos kills it by impaling its main head on the mast of a ship; when the Hydra King dies, the smaller heads follow, bursting open in grisly fashion. The Hydra is the first boss in God of War and may be considered to be the one which started the God of War' tradition to implement epic, gigantic boss fights.
- Medusa - the Queen of Gorgons appears as a sub-boss early in the game. She is amongst the army of Ares which besieges Athens. Her attacks and appearance are similar to other Gorgons, but she has more health. Aphrodite considers her an abomination and requests Kratos to kill her. Kratos obeys the Goddess and rips off her head and uses it against his enemies.
- Pandora's Guardian - A 20 foot tall, undead minotaur wearing nearly impenetrable armor. It guards the tomb of the Architect's son in the segment of the Temple of Pandora dedicated to Hades. Judging by the fact that a ballista is present in the Guardian's chamber, it was apparently placed there as a final test to anyone who had made it that far through the temple in an attempt to claim Pandora's Box. Kratos kills it by first chipping away its chest and hand armor and helmet and then firing the ballista at it, impaling it to a door; in its death throes, the beast's hoof smashes open a sealed door, allowing Kratos to proceed.
- Ares - The God of War himself. He is the one who gives Kratos his power, Blades of Chaos and madness, and the one responsible for the death of Kratos' family. He appears as a giant, massive human with flaming hair, wearing dark red armor. When Kratos claims Pandora's Box and takes all its power into himself, he becomes nearly the same size and capacity as his nemesis, and the final battle ensues. In one-on-one battle, Ares summons six sword-like tentacles out of his back. During their battle, Ares trapped Kratos in an illusion which required Kratos to battle his Doppelgängers, having to prevent them from killing his family again. Although Kratos did succeed in killing the Doppelgängers, Ares made the Blades of Chaos redo the killing of Calliope and Lysandra. Kratos defeated Ares using Blade of the Gods, and then impaled him, causing him to explode.
Items and abilities
- Blades of Chaos - Powerful blades Given to Kratos by Ares, the God of War after pledging his allegiance to him. They're a pair of large curved blades that are attached to Kratos' arms via chains. He can swing them about to strike enemies.
- Blade of Artemis - This is a large, curved, cumbersome blade given to Kratos by the goddess Artemis. It is quite slow but also does more damage to enemies than the Blades of Chaos.
- Blade of the Gods - Kratos used this powerful blade to kill Ares.
- Poseidon's Rage - This is a magic given to Kratos by Poseidon. It allows him to unleash radiating lighting upon multiple foes. It also does more damage.
- Medusa's Gaze - Upon killing Medusa for Aphrodite, Kratos takes her head and can use it to turn his enemies to stone.
- Zeus' Fury - A power given to Kratos by Zeus. It allows Kratos to summon bolts to throw them at distant enemies.
- Army of Hades- This power is given to Kratos by Hades in Pandora's Temple. With it, Kratos can summon the souls of the Underworld to attack any nearby foes.
- Rage of the Gods - An ability that is gained for upgrading the Blades of Chaos. The meter appears at the bottom of the screen, and when it's full, you can activate "Rage of the Gods". While activated, Kratos does a lot more damage to his enemies and also takes less damage.
- Poseidon's Trident - Kratos finds this within Pandora's Temple. It allows him to dive, swim, and breathe underwater indefinitely without being able to drown.
- Muse Keys - Both keys can be found in Pandora's Temple and together they open a passage to a room where Kratos is endowed with a massive amount of red orbs as well as upgrades to his life and magic meters.
The game contains three unlockable cut scenes which are intended as potential avenues of continuing the story. These cutscenes are "Birth of the Beast", "A Secret Revealed", and "The Fate of the Titan". Additional costumes for Kratos are also unlocked by beating the Challenge of the Gods. Other features unlocked upon beating the game and doing certain tasks are documentaries surrounding the game's creation (like Deleted Levels) and secret messages from Kratos himself.
In God of War soundtrack, "God of War End Title" by Ron Fish, there is a secret message around 4:29, where Kratos questions himself about his brother's return.
- Chef of War - Kratos wears the traditional chef uniform, and his blades are replaced by skillets. Gains more magic from blue orbs.
- Bubbles - Outfitted in snorkeling gear and wielding fish, Kratos gains more health from green orbs but suffers from low attack power.
- Tycoonius - Kratos wears his business suit and uses a pair of briefcases to do battle. More experience, but low armor.
- Dairy Bastard - Strike fear into the enemy with the dreaded cow suit! Unlimited magic offsets low attack power.
- Claudia Black - Artemis
- Susanne Blakeslee - Oracle of Athens, Village Oracle
- Steven Blum - Ares
- Terrence C. Carson - Kratos
- Paul Eiding - Zeus, Grave Digger, Greek Soldier
- Keith Ferguson - Boat Captain, Greek Soldier
- Linda Hunt - Narrator
- Nolan North - Hades, Fisherman, Greek Soldier
- Rob Paulsen - Greek Soldier
- Carole Ruggier - Athena, Aphrodite
- Christopher Corey Smith - Body Burner, Greek Soldier
- Fred Tatasciore - Poseidon, Fisherman
- Courtenay Taylor - Twins
- Gwendoline Yeo - Lysandra, Town Square Woman
God of War received strong praise from gaming critics and is widely considered one of the best PlayStation 2 games of all-time. The game was praised for its strong gameplay, graphics, and sound. A CNN review stated that God of War is the type of game that makes you remember why you play games in the first place. Reviews did find that some of the puzzle and platforming aspects, particularly while escaping Hades, were not as strong as the rest of the game.
- The 2008 game Hero of Sparta, developed for Nintendo DS, iOS, Android and PSP, borrows heavily from the God of War franchise, even going as far as being called a "shameless God of War rip-off".
- In the PAL version of the game, there was a minor controversy over a piece of censorship, in which the soldier in the Challenge of Poseidon was replaced with an Undead Legionnaire, who was crushed rather than burned.
- God of War is the only game in the series that does not involve reflecting projectiles.
- Right after Kratos says "The Gods of Olympus have abandoned me" in the opening cutscene, the voices of the choir in the background sing a chorus that sounds like they are saying "Kratos, Son of Zeus" or "Kratos, Sparta Ghost". While this is most likely a mere coincidence in that that's how the pronunciation of the Greek lyrics sounds, it is interesting to note that this could be a foreshadowing of the revelation that Kratos is in fact a son of Zeus. But the latter would make more sense, because it doesn't give away that he is part god. What they're really saying is "Kratos, Thanatos" the latter meaning death.
Due to its success, a sequel was released on the PS2 (God of War II). Later, three interquels were released; two on the PSP titled God of War: Chains of Olympus, and God of War: Ghost of Sparta, as well as game for cell phones, God of War: Betrayal. The very-anticipated God of War III released on the PS3, ending the God of War trilogy. A prequel to the entire series, God of War: Ascension was released also on the PS3.