Have you finished God of War: Ragnarok yet, or are you saving Kratos’ latest adventure for the quiet time between the years? The comeback of the former god of war has been more than successful and a top favorite for the game of the year 2022. No wonder, after all, “Ragnarök” not only offers powerful action gameplay and ingenious technology, but also an exciting story, at the center of which Kratos and his son Atreus must avert the impending end every day.
But Kratos wasn’t always the loving and sometimes a bit “odd” father. His story is marked by anger and violence, which did not spare even the gods of Olympus. It was precisely this raw, unbridled brutality that drew his attention in 2005’s “God of War,” developed by SCE Santa Monica Studio. Over 15 years later, we look back at what made the series so impressive and at the same time so awesome!
The God of War conquers the PlayStation 2
“God of War” was released on March 22, 2005 in North America and only on May 10, 2006 in Germany. The reason: Due to the explicit depiction of violence, the age rating by the USK took much longer and for months it was even unclear whether “God of War” would even come onto the German market.
The first part was released for the PlayStation 2 and saw Kratos as a Spartan general who was betrayed by the gods. This in turn led him to murder his wife and daughter under the control of Ares, the god of war. Out of this tragedy he swore eternal revenge on Olympus.
“God of War” impressed at the time with the powerful staging and the brisk but extremely robust action gameplay. At first, Kratos only swings the Chaos Blades with light and heavy attacks. Later he gets more actions and even activates the rage mode.
But what distinguished “God of War” above all was the combination of action and presentation. The battles with mighty creatures from Greek mythology in particular can hardly be surpassed in terms of power and presence. SCE Santa Monica repeatedly spices up the scenes with quick-time events. These are hated today, but fit perfectly into the depiction of the battles and allowed unusual camera angles and moments.
Kratos’ hunt for the gods culminated in some extremely brutal killing scenes right from the start. But it was precisely this rawness that made “God of War” in connection with the for the PlayStation 2 groundbreaking staging.
After Kratos defeats Ares in the first part and becomes the god of war himself, he prepares himself in the 2007 published “God of War II” to personally dismantle Zeus, the father of the gods. Compared to the predecessor, there was no evolutionary leap in the second part. No wonder, after all, the performance of the PS2 was limited. SCE Santa Monica Studio therefore concentrated primarily on fine-tuning the recipe tested in the predecessor.
“God of War II” was better in terms of gameplay, faster and more challenging. The interspersed puzzle and platformer passages brought variety into the game and the combat system was a tad better than before thanks to the expanded arsenal. “God of War II” is therefore considered as a better game as a whole, precisely because the battles are even bigger and tougher.
Kratos shows signs of fatigue
We had to wait until 2010 for the third part of the series and thus the conclusion of the main story. “God of War III” was released for the PlayStation 3 and could not fully meet the great demands of its predecessors. That didn’t mean it was a bad game. But all in all, the innovations were missing here and some gameplay blunders such as wave attacks that were far too frequent disrupted the gameplay.
Nonetheless, God of War III was a damn good action game that, most importantly, felt a lot bigger than its predecessors. The former god of war Kratos wants to finally finish off the gods of Olympus in this part.
And he succeeds – with maximum brutality: The author of these lines remembers only too vividly how Kratos chopped off the legs of Hermes, the messenger of the gods, or how Helios ripped off his head and used it as a lantern. The scenes supported here by quick-time events were still remembered years later.
God of War III was a strong, if not perfect, conclusion to the series. But you also noticed that the series needed a break after three big parts within five years. By the way, you can still play “God of War III Remastered” on the PlayStation 5 today. The reboot is part of PlayStation Plus Premium.
Aside from the big “God of War” canon, there were of course also various spin-offs and quasi-predecessors. Kratos was also up to mischief on mobile devices: “God of War: Chains of Olympus” (2008) was set before the first part and sees the Spartans in conflict with Persephone. The PSP offshoot was neat and showed what was in the handheld. But it didn’t come close to the qualities of the big titles.
“Ghost of Sparta” (2010) was more convincing – both in terms of presentation and technology. The adventure, located between the first and second part, offered the usual gameplay fare, but in the story in particular there were interesting twists and turns from Kratos’ past.
And then, of course, there’s God of War: Ascension (2013) – the only game in the series with completely unnecessary multiplayer. “Ascension” convinced with its creative story, which repeatedly worked with flashbacks, and the crisp gameplay. But here, too, the decisive innovations were missing to give the series the next kick.
The big comeback
You’ll notice: After a cracking start and two really strong parts, the fascination of “God of War” gradually waned. The action series was still very good, but also badly needed a new twist to be really interesting again. Santa Monica Studio achieved exactly this feat with the 2018 released “God of War”.
To this day, the action-adventure is considered the flagship for reboots. Not only does it preserve the quintessence of the series in the form of great playable fights and the sheer visual power and embeds the story in a meaningful way in a new setting, it shows Kratos from a completely different side and brings an emotional component with the relationship to his son Atreus comes into play, which is reinforced by the relationship with the deceased mother.
God of War Ragnarok tips:
Otherwise, the game world is more open and the Nordic mythology fits surprisingly well with the former Greek god of war. Role-playing elements such as the overall spacious areas, character expansions and weapon upgrades round off the rejuvenation for the “God of War” brand.
In any case, “God of War” is an integral part of Sony’s exclusive console catalog and every new part of the series – like “Ragnarök” recently – is therefore something very special.
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