"God of War 2," (PS2, $50) the sequel to the best selling "God of War," is a fun and gory romp through ancient Greece, complete with mythological themes of revenge, hubris, and insecure gods.
Let's get this out of the way from the start, this is an "M" (Mature) game and kids should not be playing it. It is bloody, has adult themes, and contains some nudity.
The blood and gore, however, are so over-the-top that it is often funny in a cover your mouth, I can't believe I just ripped off that Wraith's arm and used it to kill him, kind of way. That is, if you like that kind of humor.
The game itself is considered a third person fighting and puzzle solving game, driven by the fact that you, the God of War, have been betrayed and have lost your powers. You seek revenge on those who turned on you and battle your way to the Temple of the Fates to alter your destiny. Why you don't just fly around the world to reverse time, like Superman, I don't know. I think it would take less effort.
Speaking of time and effort, this game is a lot shorter and easier than "God of War". It takes about 20 hours of gameplay to get through it on the normal difficulty level, and on a second playthrough, you may actually be able to get through it in 15 hours. In fact, it it weren't for the 26 hours of in-game movies (hey, a little hyperbole never killed anybody), you'd actually have finished it by now.
The puzzles in the game, while fun to solve, are definitely more linear and easier to figure out than in the original "God of War". An example would be entering a room and seeing three switches, only one that you can operate at a time. Pull that switch and you'll be shown what it does. There's just not a lot of guess work, trial and error, nor exploration involved.
The weapons and magic in the game are very similar to the original game. If you didn't play the original, your default weapon is a pair of blades attached to chains on your arms. As the game progresses, you'll receive a hammer, a staff, and a sword.
You'll also receive four magic powers during the game which is pretty much your standard fare: electricity, ground pound, a bow and arrow, and the ability to freeze people with Euryale's head (the sister of Medusa).
Where this game really does shine is the story, spanning everything from the Titanomachy (the 10 year war between the Gods and the Titans) to the Oracle of Delphi to the quest for the Golden Fleece. The plot itself seems torn from the pages of Aeschylus, Apollonius, and Euripides, replete with epic adventures, father/son drama, and themes of revenge.
There are a few extras beyond the single player story. Aside from being able to replay the game on harder difficulty levels with various unlockable, you can compete in the Challenge of the Titans, a seven stage battle which tasks you with defeating enemies in a variety of ways. An example of this is to defeat wave after wave of enemies without getting hit. These challenges are difficult, yet rewarding.
It's hard to judge this game in a vacuum, without making comparisons to the original. If you haven't yet played the first game, you will find "God of War 2" to be an excellent and fun game, one of the better games in its genre and definitely worth a play. That being said, you should definitely play the first one, if for no other reason than you can get it for $20, and is, in my estimation, a superior game.
If you did play the first game, "God of War 2" is a worthy, yet slightly disappointing sequel, heavy on the graphics and story and lacking in challenging puzzles and enemies.
It's definitely worth a play, and if you liked the first, you should buy it. However, if you're on the fence, wait for a used copy to come in to your local game store, or rent it, as you will be able to finish it within a rental period.