God of War, Sony's recent action title for the Playstation 2, represents the pinnacle of that platform's technical achievements. That's an impressive enough feat, but what's even more impressive is just how fun God of War is to play.
Part of what makes God of War a success is the setting. The game is set in mythological Greece, focused around Athens, with the main character a tortured Spartan warrior named Kratos. In keeping with the setting, Kratos must battle through hordes of mythological creatures such as cyclops, hydras, and medusas. The game is rather violent, which at first seems off-putting to those who may have grown up with sanitized children's Greek myths. However, Kratos' violent, madness of the gods-induced descent into violent mental illness, is reminiscent of nothing less than that of Heracles, the most famous of Greek heroes.
The graphics of the game successfully match the ambition of the setting, with attractive backgrounds and character detail. The monsters, with the possible exception of the cyclops, are all superbly animated.
All that would be meaningless, of course, if the game didn't play well, but fortunately, God of War plays like a dream. The controls are responsive, with a great variety in action options, including various magic spells. Yet more important than that, perhaps, is the fact that the game feels like an action game should. The player gets a visceral thrill from engaging in combat, as Kratos dances dangerously with his blades flashing into enemies, setting up violent combos in a manner similar, though superior, to Devil May Cry.
God of War does include a few missteps. Its attitude towards sexuality is as immature as the violence is mature, and it does seem rather short. These things do not, however, prevent it from being the PS2's showcase title.