God of War II is an action-adventure game developed by Santa Monica Studio and published by Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE). First released for the PlayStation 2 console on March 13, 2007, it is the second installment in the God of War series, the sixth chronologically, and the sequel to 2005’s God of War. The game is based on Greek mythology and set in ancient Greece, with vengeance as its central motif. The player character is protagonist Kratos, the new God of War who killed the former, Ares. Kratos is betrayed by Zeus, the King of the Olympian Gods, who strips him of his godhood and kills him. Slowly dragged to the Underworld, he is saved by the Titan Gaia, who instructs him to find the Sisters of Fate, as they can allow him to travel back in time, avert his betrayal, and take revenge on Zeus.
The gameplay is similar to the previous installment. It focuses on combo-based combat which is achieved through the player’s main weapon—Athena’s Blades—and secondary weapons acquired throughout the game. It features quick time events that require players to quickly complete various game controller actions to defeat stronger enemies and bosses. The player can use up to four magical attacks and a power-enhancing ability as alternative combat options. The game also features puzzles and platforming elements. Compared to its predecessor, God of War II features improved puzzles and four times as many bosses.
God of War II has been acclaimed as one of the best video games of all time and one of the best video game sequels ever made, and was 2007’s “PlayStation Game of the Year” at the Golden Joystick Awards. In 2009, IGN listed it as the second-best PlayStation 2 game of all time, and both IGN and GameSpot consider it the “swan song” of the PlayStation 2 era. In 2012, Complex magazine named God of War II the best PlayStation 2 game of all time. It was the best-selling game in the UK during the week of its release and went on to sell 4.24 million copies worldwide, making it the sixteenth-best-selling PlayStation 2 game of all time. God of War II, along with God of War, was remastered and released on November 17, 2009 as part of the God of War Collection for the PlayStation 3. The remastered version was re-released on August 28, 2012 as part of the God of War Saga, also for the PlayStation 3. A novelization of the game was published in February 2013. A sequel, God of War III, was released on March 16, 2010.
God of War II is an action-adventure game with hack and slash elements. It’s a third-person single-player video game viewed from a fixed camera perspective. The player controls the character Kratos in combo-based combat, platforming, and puzzle game elements, and battles foes who primarily stem from Greek mythology, including harpies, minotaurs, Gorgons, griffins, cyclopes, cerberuses, Sirens, satyrs, and nymphs. Other monsters were created specifically for the game, including undead legionnaires, ravens, undead barbarians, beast lords, rabid hounds, wild boars, and the army of the Fates, including sentries, guardians, juggernauts, and high priests. Many of the combination attacks used in God of War reappear, and the game features more than double the amount of boss fights and more difficult puzzles than the original. Platforming elements require the player to climb walls and ladders, jump across chasms, swing on ropes, and balance across beams to proceed through sections of the game. Some puzzles are simple, such as moving a box so that the player can use it as a jumping-off point to access a pathway unreachable with normal jumping, while others are more complex, such as finding several items across different areas of the game to unlock one door.
In addition to the regular health, magic, and experience chests that are found throughout the game world, there are three Uber Chests to be found. Two of these chests provide an additional increment to the Health and Magic Meters, respectively, and the third chest contains an abundance of red and gold orbs. Several urns are also hidden in the game (e.g., the Urn of Gaia) which, upon completion of the game, unlocks special abilities (e.g., unlimited magic) for use during bonus play.
Kratos uses magical attack Poseidon’s Rage against the Colossus of Rhodes. The HUD in the upper left corner shows the player’s Health (green) and Magic (blue) Meters. The red dot with the number 12 indicates the amount of red orbs collected.
Kratos’ main weapon is a pair of blades attached to chains that are wrapped around the character’s wrists and forearms. Called Athena’s Blades (also known as the Blades of Athena) in this game, they can be swung offensively in various maneuvers. As the game progresses, Kratos acquires new weapons—the Barbarian Hammer, the Spear of Destiny, and periodically, the Blade of Olympus—offering alternative combat options. Although Kratos begins the game with Athena’s Blades and the magic ability Poseidon’s Rage (both at maximum power), the blades’ power is reduced and the magic is relinquished after an encounter with Zeus (Poseidon’s Rage can be regained by obtaining a certain urn). As with previous games, Kratos learns to use up to four magical abilities, such as Typhon’s Bane that acts as a bow and arrow for distant targets, giving him a variety of ways to attack and kill enemies. Other new magical abilities include Cronos’ Rage, Head of Euryale, and Atlas Quake. The special ability Rage of the Gods, featured in the previous game is replaced by Rage of the Titans; unlike the previous game, the Rage meter—which allows usage of the ability—does not have to be full in order to use the ability, and can be switched on and off at will.
Kratos retains the relic Poseidon’s Trident from the original installment, and gains new relics; the Amulet of the Fates, the Golden Fleece, and Icarus’ Wings, each being required to advance through certain stages of the game. For example, the Amulet of the Fates slows time, but this does not affect Kratos and allows puzzle-solving that can not be achieved in normal game time. The Amulet of the Fates has limited usage before needing to be recharged (which occurs automatically and is represented by the Amulet of the Fates Meter). The Golden Fleece deflects enemy projectiles back at the enemies (used to solve certain puzzles). Icarus’ Wings allows Kratos to glide across large chasms that cannot be crossed with normal jumping.
This game’s challenge mode is called the Challenge of the Titans (seven trials), and requires players to complete a series of specific tasks (e.g., kill all enemies without being attacked). The player may unlock bonus costumes for Kratos, behind-the-scenes videos, and concept art of the characters and environments, as rewards, as well as usage of the abilities found in the urns during the first playthrough. Completion of each difficulty level unlocks additional rewards, as does collecting twenty eyes from defeated cyclopes. A new mode, called Arena of the Fates, allows players to set difficulty levels and choose their own opponents to improve their skills.