previews\ Feb 4, 2007 at 7:00 pm

God of War II - PS2 - Preview 4

In the middle of a vicious battle, Kratos is caught off guard when the majority of his powers are ripped from his body. He was the size of a giant, instilling great fear in every enemy he towered over. They were frightened from the moment he first attacked till the moment when his body began to shrink. Kratos was infuriated by the loss, and is put in danger when the Colossus of Rhodes is summoned. The Colossus is just as he sounds – a skyscraper-sized monster with extreme power.

An intense battle follows. The conclusion? Still to be determined. In the style of any great movie trailer, this preview ends much too soon.

Of Great Wars

The latest build of God of War II is similar to the first in size and presentation, but is a different take on the game’s many scenarios. Only a few dozen standard enemies are encountered, leaving room for the demo to focus on Kratos’s multiple encounters with a boss.

Equipped with his original trademark moves and several new additions, Kratos strikes with several ongoing combos. The controls are perfection, going further than “seamless” and a few steps above “polished.” The cinematic graphics and camera angles are amazing. A few upgrades are all this game needs to fit in with the current crop of next-gen titles. Kratos may not have as many polygons as the leading characters of an Xbox 360 or PS3 game, but his facial expressions dwarf everything those consoles have currently produced.

The demo begins with a rush of ballsy enemies. They lose their balls as soon as Kratos starts to retaliate. Oh no, he’s still powerful! Run! You can chase after them, but will run into a couple of problems along the way. The second isn’t much trouble: a simple puzzle that takes about one second to solve. The first and third, however, are much more difficult to overcome.


Shadow of the…You Know

With hands alone that are several times the size of an entire human, the Colossus of Rhodes has the potential to crush its prey in a matter of seconds. Being the God of War, Kratos can withstand numerous attacks, but only for so long. The Colossus’s attacks consist of a ground punch, palm slam, and a deadly air strike where he swings both arms across a wide range. To dodge his assault, Kratos must keep moving at all times.

Your first encounter with him is a little worrisome. Kratos stumbles upon an old catapult, and it just happens to be loaded with a large boulder. The obvious thing to do is press the R1 button, as indicated on screen, and watch the boss get shot in the eye.

Less than a second after it’s launched, the Colossus holds up his hand and catches the boulder. With no more ammo in sight, only one option remains: hop in the catapult and launch yourself toward the enemy.

Kratos takes the risk, triggering a breathtaking cinema with limited interactivity. Kratos automatically climbs the monster, digging his swords into the Colossus’s body for leverage. An icon appears – if the button shown is pressed fast enough, he’ll jump or swing around the enemy’s head. Two or three additional icons will appear – each successful action is followed by the continuation of Kratos’s exciting attack. If you press the wrong button or react too slowly, the Colossus will pull Kratos from his face and throw him down, causing a fair amount of damage.

While most games use the “Simon Says” actions to replace something else, GOWII uses them to enhance a movie sequence that, in any other game, would’ve been a non-interactive experience.

Every portion of the GOWII feels like it was designed with something very specific in mind. I don’t want to say it’s a scripted experience – that implies a bit of linearity. But in the midst of a life-threatening situation, the game unfolds in a way so shocking and jaw-dropping that there is no room left for an equal.

The preview concluded with Kratos entering a small room. The room was empty except for giant eye looking in through the window. I struck the eye immediately, causing the Colossus to scream in agony. He began to tear down the building, setting the stage for what was bound to be another incredible battle. The screen flashes, the demo ends, and a message appears to remind us that GOWII is due this March.

Are we doomed to go crazy for another four weeks, waiting for the most anticipated PlayStation 2 game since Metal Gear Solid 2? That’s unavoidable. But at least we can check ourselves into the mental hospital knowing that, when the game finally arrives, it’s going to be worth every second we spent anticipating its release.

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