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God of War II is a hack and slash action-adventure video game and the sequel to the 2005 game God of War for the PlayStation 2. It was released in North America on March 13, 2007, in Europe on April 27, 2007, and May 3, 2007 in Australia. It is the second installment released in the God of War series and fourth chronologically. Prior to God of War III's release, God of War II, along with God of War, was released on November 17, 2009 as part of the God of War Collection, featuring ports of both games to the PlayStation 3 hardware with upscaled graphics and support for PlayStation Trophies.

The North American NTSC version of God of War II is packaged in a two-disc set. The first disc contains the game, and the second disc is dedicated to the game's development, including a diary of the game's production. The European/Australian PAL version comes in two different editions: a single disc standard edition and a two disc "Special Edition" that comes in a different case to the single disc edition. It also includes different box art, a bonus DVD, as well as the PAL version of the game.

The game is considered to be the swan song of the PlayStation 2 era.

Gameplay

The gameplay of God of War II is very similar to that of its predecessor. The player controls Kratos in a combination of combat, platforming, and puzzle game elements. Kratos' main weapons are the Blades of Athena, which are short swords on the ends of long chains that Kratos is able to swing to attack with, but also are able to be used to scale rock faces or swing from special hook points. Kratos received the Blades of Athena at the end of the original game, after losing the Blades of Chaos in his battle with Ares. Other weapons and magic abilities are acquired as the plot progresses and can be used in conjunction with the Blades to dispatch enemies. Defeating foes using a combination of attacks, including chaining attacks together in combos, will release red experience orbs, used to power up Kratos' weapons and magic, and green, blue, and yellow orbs to replenish health, magic power, and the Rage of the Titans power, respectively. Chests distributed throughout the levels can also release these orbs, as well as providing Kratos with special artifacts to increase his maximum health and magic levels.

As with many foes in the first game, once Kratos has weakened a certain enemy, an indicator will appear above it. The player can then initiate a quicktime sequence, which will require the player to hit a button, turn the analog stick, or button-mash when prompted on-screen. A successful attempt will release additional orbs or life as a reward, while failure may result in damage to Kratos. Bosses can only be defeated via these sequences, allowing for finishers that are both cinematic and engaging.

New features in God of War II include additional relics introduced in the game. These allow Kratos to reflect projectiles back to their origin, slow down time when near special statues, and open locked doors. Additionally, Kratos can fly on the back of Pegasus with combat similar to rail games such as Panzer Dragoon Orta. A new "Challenge of the Titans" mode allows the player to attempt 7 different challenges with increasing difficulty after they have completed the main game once. There is also an "Arena of the Fates", in which the number and type of opponents can be customized. The experience points gained therein carry over to the main game. An overall rank of Titan must be achieved in the Challenge of the Titans in order to unlock the Arena of the Fates. Finally, there are urns hidden throughout the game that unlock additional abilities when starting a Bonus Play.

Plot

God of War II takes place some time after the events of the first game; Kratos, after his defeat of Ares, has become the new God of War, but has not been accepted by the other members of the Greek pantheon due to his ruthless treatment of the other Greek city-states. Kratos is still haunted by memories of the deeds from his past while working under Ares. Leading and aiding his Spartanmarker army in conquering Greece is the only thing that Kratos takes comfort in. As a result, the gods are displeased with Kratos' campaign. Athena pleads for Kratos to stop, telling him that she cannot protect him much longer from the wrath of the gods while reminding him that he owes her for his divinity. Kratos nonetheless ignores her pleas and descends to Rhodes to assist his Spartan army.

As Kratos arrives to destroy the city, an eagle, which Kratos believes to be Athena in disguise, robs him of almost all of his godly power. It then infuses the power into the Colossus of Rhodesmarker, bringing it to life to kill Kratos. After a protracted conflict with the metal giant that rages across the city, Zeus offers Kratos the Blade of Olympus, which Zeus himself used to overthrow Cronos and the Titans. At Zeus' behest, Kratos infuses the blade with his godhood, rendering him mortal but enabling him to destroy the Colossus from the inside. However, when he jumps out of the falling Colossus and asks the gods if he needs to prove anything more to them, he is crushed and severely wounded by the Colossus' falling hand. Limping his way to the Blade of Olympus to save himself, he is interrupted by Zeus revealing himself as the eagle that stole his power. Zeus explains he betrayed Kratos to save himself and Olympus from the same fate that Ares would have offered them. Zeus then offers Kratos one final chance at being a god, provided that he forever serve him. Kratos refuses and Zeus, claiming to be left no other choice, slays him after a brief struggle. Zeus whispers that everything Kratos has ever known will suffer for his sacrilege, Kratos will never be the ruler of Olympus, and 'the cycle ends here'. He then pulls the sword out of Kratos and uses the weapon's power to destroy the fighting warriors of Spartamarker and Rhodesmarker. As Zeus is walking away, Kratos gives him a warning as he dies: "You will pay for this, Zeus… Be certain of that."

However, as Kratos is being dragged towards an eternity of torment in Hades, he is saved by Gaia, the mother of the Titans and she offers an alliance. When the Titans were defeated by the Olympians, they were punished and humiliated, and they want Kratos' help to get revenge. Kratos escapes the Underworld and is bidden by Gaia to find the Sisters of Fate in order to change his past. She gives Kratos the aid of the magical horse Pegasus to traverse the distance to the Fates. Kratos tells the last of his Spartan warriors in Rhodes to return to Sparta and prepare for battle. Kratos mounts Pegasus and takes off. They soon arrive at a mountain that houses the Titan Typhon and the former Titan Prometheus. As they fly through the mountain's cavernous innards, Typhon traps Pegasus, leaving Kratos to find a way to release him, while also discovering more secrets about the mountain. Some way into his adventure through the mountain, he finds a chained Prometheus outside in the blizzard, who tells him that Zeus punished him for bringing the Fires of Olympus to the mortals. Prometheus was made immortal and bound and each day his inner organs are savagely consumed by a carnivorous bird, regenerated, and begun anew. He begs Kratos to kill him, so that he can be free from his torment. Kratos, lacking the proper tools to kill Prometheus, continues back into the mountain and encounters Typhon face to face. Typhon, angered by Kratos' appearance, tries to send Kratos plummeting to his death with strong gusts of wind. Kratos resists, successfully rips Typhon's Bane from the Titan's eye and uses it to blind him. Now, with a way of killing Prometheus, Kratos makes his way back to where the ex-Titan is being tormented and uses Typhon's Bane to free Prometheus . Prometheus drops into the furnace below, and his ashes give Kratos extra strength in the form of Rage of the Titans. Kratos then returns to where Pegasus is being trapped and uses Rage of the Titans to lift Typhon's fingers off the horse, allowing them to escape.

Kratos flies to the Island of Creation where the Sisters of Fate (the Moirae) await. As he explores the island, Kratos encounters the likes of Theseus, whom he kills in battle to determine who is the greatest warrior of Greece (and to take his key in order to venture onward), Cronos who speaks to Kratos through a magical hologram and gives him the last of his magic: Cronos's Rage, Euryale who attempts to avenge the death of her sister, Medusa, but gets decapitated by Kratos who uses her head to turn his enemies to stone, Perseus, who is there to change the fate of his beloved Andromeda, and the revived Barbarian King from the original God of War who has fought his way out of Hades to change his fate. Kratos also encounters an elderly Icarus who is on the brink of insanity and wrestles Kratos off a cliff and into a massive chasm, saying that it is his fate, none others, to seek an audience with the Sisters. While both are falling, Kratos rips off Icarus's wings and sails below the Earth where it is being held up by the Titan Atlas, as Icarus falls into the Underworld far below.

Kratos lands upon Atlas and tries to communicate with him. At first, Atlas refuses to help Kratos, bent on crushing the human for his imprisonment. However, Kratos manages to persuade Atlas to help him so that he may change his fate and kill Zeus. The Titan accepts the offer, giving Kratos the last of his magic, Atlas Quake, and helps him back to the surface so that he may continue his quest. After an expedition through the Sisters' Palace, Kratos encounters an unknown warrior who is also seeking to reach the Sisters. Without either of them knowing who the other one is at the time due to the darkness of the room, they engage in battle ending with Kratos ramming the man through a stain-glass window to the ground below. Upon landing, Kratos is shocked to see that the man is the very Spartan he had told to return to Sparta at the beginning of his quest. The Spartan reveals that Zeus has destroyed Sparta and that he was seeking the Sisters to change the events. He tells Kratos as he dies that he has faith that Kratos will finish what he has started. Kratos is despondent and bereft of the will to carry on, so much so that when the next foe, the Kraken, emerges to fight, Kratos refuses to raise his weapons. He walks slowly towards the Kraken while calling out challenges to the gods, allowing the monster to grab him in his tentacles. As Kratos is about to succumb to the inevitable, he is inspired by Gaia to continue the battle, saying that if he dies, he will be tortured by Zeus and the other gods for all eternity. She promises Kratos that Zeus will fall, saying 'this battle is just the start of a Great War that is to come...'

His rage rekindled by her words, Kratos breaks free, battles and then slays the Kraken. Kratos then makes his way, on the back of the Phoenix, to the Palace of the Sisters, where he finally confronts the Sisters, Lakhesis, Atropos and Clotho. There, they operate and defend the Loom of Fate, which rules the lives of mortals and gods alike. Kratos first encounters Lakhesis. She reveals that it was she who decided the Titans' lost at the Great War and allowed Kratos to come this far. They fight and Kratos seemingly defeats her, but she then summons Atropos, who takes Kratos back to the time of his final fight with Ares in the first God of War. As Kratos and Ares disappear (inside the illusionary world created by Ares), Atropos attempts to destroy the Blade of the Gods, the sword that Kratos used to kill Ares, with the intention that, if the sword is destroyed, Ares can kill Kratos, causing him to die in both the past and the present. Kratos stops her and goes back to the present to face Lahkesis once more. As he fights Lahkesis, Atropos intervenes from the three mirrors in the room, meaning Kratos must fight both at the same time. Kratos destroys Atropos' first two mirrors, then traps Lahkesis and Atropos in the last mirror and destroys it, trapping the two Sisters within time for eternity. This opens the path to Clotho, who pleads with Kratos as he approaches that his manipulation of fate will destroy everything. Before entering Clotho's chambers, Kratos sees three murals describing past, present, and future events. The first referencing the Great War between the Titans and Olympians in the past and the threat of its revival, the second showing a lone man (likely Kratos himself) surveying the carnage of a great battle that is waging on below him, and the last alluding to the journey of The Three Wise Men toward the birth of Christ. Upon reaching Clotho, Kratos impales her in the head with a swinging blade, leaving him to control the loom.

He first goes back to his death at Zeus' hands in Rhodes, reclaiming the Blade of Olympus and inciting a lengthy battle with the King of the Gods. At the end of the fight, Zeus is striking Kratos with an unstoppable lightning storm, leaving Kratos to call out to Zeus that he surrenders. Kratos asks him to release him from his life and his torment, and as Zeus is about to execute Kratos, stating that, "I will release you from your life, my son, but your torment is just beginning," Kratos dodges the blow and pins Zeus' hands to a rock with his blades. Kratos then takes the Blade of Olympus and begins driving it into Zeus' abdomen.

Athena arrives and defends Zeus, explaining to an enraged Kratos that she has no intent to fight him, only to save Olympus. The badly wounded Zeus attempts to escape, telling Kratos he has started a war he cannot hope to win, as the Fates have already deemed Zeus victorious. As Kratos tries to charge forward and slay Zeus as he flees, Athena interposes herself, saving her father at the cost of her own life. Her dying words reveal that Zeus' actions are meant to break the cycle of son killing father, which goes back to Cronos killing Uranus, and Zeus defeating Cronos. By killing Kratos before he could kill him, Zeus had hoped to break the cycle. Thus revealing that Kratos is, in fact, Zeus' own son, and begs him to relent in his quest for vengeance. After a moment of apparent shock and shame, Kratos' face darkens and he snarls that he has no father. Athena dies in Kratos' arms, saying that all the gods on Olympus will deny Kratos, defending Zeus so Olympus will prevail. She says that even though Kratos wishes to kill Zeus, Zeus is Olympus. Kratos then vows to exact retribution on Zeus and any god who will deny him his revenge, screaming that their time is at an end, swearing that "If all on Olympus will deny me my vengeance, then all on Olympus will die!"

Returning to the Loom, which is now collapsing, Kratos uses it once again to go further back in time to The Great War as it ends. He calls to Gaia, who claims that they were expecting him, but the gods are too powerful for them to defeat. Kratos then shouts to Gaia, "All on Olympus tremble at my name! Zeus is weak, Ares and Athena are dead, and I wield the blade. We can win the Great War, but not in this time! Together, we can destroy the petty gods and we will see Olympus crumble before us! Come with me Gaia, return to my time...Victory awaits!" He then brings Gaia and the Titans back to the present with him. Meanwhile, Zeus rallies his fellow gods Poseidon, Hades, Hermes, Helios and Apollo together, urging them to unite and defeat Kratos. As Zeus rallies his fellow gods to stand together, the entire temple of Olympus begins to shake. The gods run over to the balcony to see the Titans brought forward in time by Kratos. As Zeus looks down, he see Kratos riding atop Gaia as the Titans scale Mount Olympus and burn the city below.

The game finishes with a prophetic warning: "The End Begins..."

Characters

Main characters

  • Kratos: At the start of God of War II, Kratos is the God of War after defeating Ares but not being released from his torment made his sorrow boil into hatred. He turns to his mortal army of Sparta to wage war on cities across the land, which raises the anger of Zeus and the other gods. Soon, he finds he is betrayed by Zeus and reduced to a mortal. Kratos must travel to the Sisters of Fate to exact revenge and destroy Zeus once and for all.


  • Athena: The goddess of wisdom, defensive war and industry. Though a constant companion in the first game, Athena appears only three times in this sequel: once to warn Kratos that his actions are displeasing the other gods, a second through a statue (as in the first game), and the last to save Zeus by stepping in the way of Kratos' killing blow. (Ironically, when Athena's mother, the Titaness Metis, was pregnant, Zeus attempted to kill both for fear that the child be the prophesied overthrowing son.)


  • Gaia: Mother of the Titans, and connected to all things of the Earth. Along with the other Titans, she was banished in the War of the Titans, and seeing Kratos' quest for revenge on Zeus, offers to lend her power to his cause. She helps Kratos throughout his journey in hopes that together they can bring about the fall of Olympus. She also acts as the narrator.


  • Lakhesis: The middle (matron) of the three Sister of Fate bears a feathered robe and wings along with a staff. She mocks Kratos by telling him that she was the one responsible for deciding both the defeat of the Titans in the Great War and letting Kratos reach the Sisters. She refuses to accept Kratos and tells him that he will fail in his quest to change his fate.


  • Atropos: The oldest (crone) Sister of Fate who was inside Lakhesis until she split off to fight Kratos. She mocked Kratos' attempt to change his fate, demonstrating her power by altering the event from the first God of War and attempting to destroy the Blade of the Gods so that Kratos would die by Ares' hand. Kratos is forced to fight in his own past (with the final battle of the first game raging in the background) in order to defeat her and preserve his existence.


  • Clotho: The youngest (maiden) Sisters of Fate that Kratos encounters, although she looks like anything but. She is a morbidly obese silkworm-like creature with multiple arms and breasts that sits within the multi-leveled Loom Chamber. She spins the thread of every mortal, god and titan. Kratos must defeat Clotho and learn how to work the loom in order to kill Zeus and change his fate.


  • Zeus: The King of Olympus who created the Blade of Olympus. He is the father of Ares, Athena and Kratos. He betrays Kratos in the beginning of the second game and is the antagonist during the rest of it.


Animal cruelty controversy

Sony's marketing campaign included the presence of a decapitated goat at a party held in Athens for the launch of the game. Distribution of an issue of the "Official PlayStation Magazine" containing photos of the event was halted after condemnation from animal rights groups.

Soundtrack

The score of God of War II was composed by Gerard K. Marino, Ron Fish, Mike Reagan, Cris Velasco and released on CD on April 10, 2007. A rock arrangement of "The End Begins" was also released as a free downloadable track for the PlayStation 3 version of Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock.

Critical reception

Upon its release, God of War II garnered overwhelming critical and commercial acclaim.God of War II won a Golden Joystick for "PlayStation Game of the Year 2007" at the 2007 Golden Joystick Awards. Many consider it to be one of PlayStation 2's best games, and also one of the best action games of all time. It contains four times as many boss fights and improved puzzles in comparison to the original. In 2007, IGN listed God of War II at number two on their top 25 PS2 Games of All Time list, five ahead of its prequel.

In North America, the game had sold 833,209 copies by the end of March 2007, twice as many copies as the next-best selling game. In its first week of release in Europe, the game took the top spot in the UK charts as well. The game went on to sell over one million copies in its first three months. As of September 5, 2008, the game has sold 2.44 million copies. On March 13, 2008, God of War II joined Sony's renowned Greatest Hits list.

God of War II is ranked eighth on Game Informer’s list of The Top 10 Video Game Openings.

References

  1. Electronic Gaming Monthly, April 2007, p.90
  2. "The Top Ten Video Game Openings," Game Informer 187 (November 2008): 38.


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