Hell and Heaven on Earth

WHO would have thought that Hell and Heaven could exist side-by-side in an action gaming masterpiece? Introducing God of War II – one hell of a Greek mythology that is simply Heaven on Earth to play.
The newly released title is easily the most eagerly anticipated PlayStation 2 game of the year, and quite possibly, in the history of the console.
After Sony’s almost flawless original God of War, fans around the world wondered how the developers at the Santa Monica Studio actually outdo their first time effort in a sequel. Fortunately, they pulled it off – but only just.
Given just how great the original was, God of War II only just nudges out its predecessor, but that in itself is an amazing achievement.
God of War II picks up where the first instalment left off. Without spoiling the storyline, let’s just say that Kratos, the main character, was in a much better situation at the end of the original. His once deadly powers have been revoked in a very clever way.
Unlike most video game sequels which reset the main character’s status without any explanation, God of War II weaves a relevant reason into the story.
Like it or not, it’s a necessary evil and in the long run, the fight to regain old powers, and acquire new ones, is more exciting and challenging than ever before.
But the game has also improved in a number of other crucial areas. More bosses – check. Bigger bosses – check. More Mortal Kombat style finishing moves – check.
The boss battles in God of War II have to be seen, or played if you want the ultimate experience, to be believed.
Most impressive is how the player interacts with each boss. Beating a boss requires the successful execution of a few specific attacks.
When the final finishing blow can be landed, a picture of one of the controller’s button appears over the enemy, and you must press the corresponding button within a short time to start the attack sequence.
The attack sequence is essentially a real-time movie.
Kratos will perform dozens of deadly and graphically awe-inspiring moves as you press the buttons in time. It’s a simultaneous challenge – while Kratos takes action, so must the player.
God of War II also features a number of brain-heating puzzles that are regularly scattered throughout the game and, while they are far from classics in the Zelda sense of the word, they are short, sharp and never interrupt the fast-pace nature of the game.
The soundtrack is masterful and seamlessly blurs the many different environments that Kratos explores.
If you don’t own a Playstation 2, find someone that does, grab a copy of this game and wave goodbye to your outdoor life for at least one weekend.
God of War II is a powerfully written and exceptionally designed game with enduring combat, boss battles, puzzles, and interactive boss sequences.
It is, without doubt, one of video gaming’s finest experiences.
Score: 9.5/10
Pros: Big bosses, big moves, vast landscapes, compelling story.

Cons: Some puzzles require millimetre perfect execution, which can result in the occasional controller-throwing hissy fit.