God of War: A PlayStation Classic


Tiger Media Network

From the Original PlayStation to the PlayStation 4 and 5, Sony has made several exclusive series and games that have reached legendary status. Games like “Uncharted,” “Ratchet and Clank,” “Infamous,” “Twisted Metal” and “Sly Cooper,” these games have become icons for their brand, and even franchises like “Crash and Bandicoot” and “Spyro the Dragon,” which have moved on from the PlayStation system, will always be linked to the iconic console. 

However, of all the PlayStation-exclusive franchises, very few can match the impact and scale of the “God of War” series. With its brutal combat, large scale, engrossing and impactful stories and iconic main protagonist Kratos, “God of War” is one of Sony’s landmark titles, whether you’re talking about the original Greek trilogy or the new Norse series for the PS4 and PS5. 

And if we’re going to be talking about this flagship series, there is no better way to start with the very first entry, released in 2005. Whether you’re playing the original release on PlayStation 2, or the HD version on PlayStation 3, you’ll be playing one of the best hack-and-slash and action-adventure games you will ever touch. From its excellent story, fantastic lead, incredible graphics and scope and a deceptively deep combat engine, “God of War” is, by all accounts, a classic. 


  • Released on March 22nd, 2005, as an exclusive for the PlayStation 2
  • Developed by Santa Monica Studio and published by Sony 
  • The first game in the series Greek trilogy, before “God of War 2018” 
  • Followed by “God of War II” in 2007
  • Remastered for PlayStation 3 as part of the “God of War Collection,” alongside “God of War II”

“God of War” is set in Ancient Greece and features various characters and locations taken from Greek mythology. The game focuses on Kratos, a Spartan warrior who, before the game’s events, swore a blood oath to the god of war, Ares, after being defeated in battle. While sieging a village at the god’s behest, Kratos is tricked into killing his wife, Lysandra, and his daughter Calliope. This event resulted in his legacy as the “Ghost of Sparta” after his dead family’s ashes are bonded to his skin. 

Deeply haunted by these events, Kratos broke his allegiance to Ares and has been serving the gods for 10 years in hopes they can erase his memories of the event. In “God of War,” Kratos is tasked by the goddess Athena with defeating Ares, to stop his destruction of Athens, and promises to “forgive him of his sins.” This takes Kratos on a journey to find Pandora’s Box, an ancient artifact that will give him the strength to kill Ares, take his revenge and hopefully, erase the pain of his family’s death.

There is this consensus, mainly shared by gaming journalists, that “God of War”’s story, and Kratos himself, only starting getting good in “God of War 2018”, and that Kratos himself was nothing more than a mindless beast with no depth in the original three games; This couldn’t be further from the truth. There’s no denying Kratos has done some awful things, and if your only experience with the series is “God of War III,” I can somewhat understand this sentiment. However, Kratos is so much more than what these people give him credit for. From the very beginning of the game, Kratos is portrayed as a tragic, deeply troubled character haunted by his past deeds. It’s also readily apparent that Kratos hates his reputation as the Ghost of Sparta, as seen with his visible frustration at a woman running away from him in fear. Plus, with all the things he has had to endure working for the gods, his hatred for them is more than justified. So, this entire idea of Kratos being this hunk with no personality or depth is completely unwarranted. 

The overall narrative present in “God of War” is really great as well. The entire game is one big journey to find Pandora’s Box, with Kratos traveling across Athens, a massive desert known as the Desert of Lost Souls, Pandora’s Temple, where the Box is held, and even the underworld of Hades (Definitely not the last time Kratos visits there). While there aren’t as many characters in this game as there are in “God of War II,” each one present is distinct and memorable. The gods are easily the least scummy in the entire series because Kratos works for them. The same cannot be said for Ares, who is arrogant, cruel, and incredibly sadistic. He represents everything wrong with the gods and is, therefore, the perfect villain and final boss, only amplified by a phenomenal performance from Steve Blum. 

The narrative is also really propelled by the intrigue surrounding Kratos’ past and his desperateness to erase his sins from his mind; the way the game ends, while I don’t want to spoil it, makes you understand that Kratos has every right to despise the gods. It’s an engrossing story and one I think definitely deserves more respect from certain people. 

Then, there’s the gameplay, and it’s the final aspect of “God of War” that does not get the credit it deserves nowadays. A lot of people have this idea that the original “God of War” games are just mindless button mashers and that “God of War 2018” is, once again, when the series really started to have depth. On the surface, it may seem like this is the case, but the second you actually play “God of War,” you understand there is much more to the combat than meets the eye. Kratos’ primary weapons are the Blades of Chaos, fiery blades hooked to chains wrapped around his arms, and at the start, there are only a few select combos, with light attacks and heavy attacks. Later on, you get the Blade of Artemis, a large sword that offers different combo options. 

Now, “God of War” is very different from games like “Devil May Cry” or “Bayonetta”. While those games are about style, “God of War” is all about power. The combat in this game is about slaying large numbers of enemies in the most brutal way possible, with an emphasis on high combos. Kratos will face various different beings from Greek Mythology, from Legionnaires (Undead members of Ares’ army), Minotaurs, Cyclops, Gorgons, Harpies, and more. Kratos has access to a dodge roll and a block, along with a parry if players block right before an attack hits. 

The game also features a few boss fights. While not as abundant as they are in “God of War II” and “God of War III,” the ones present are excellent. The very first boss fight against the Hydra sets the tone going forward, and the final boss against Ares is just an amazing final confrontation. The fight against a Minotaur in Pandora’s Temple is also quite memorable. “God of War” is also pretty famous for its quick time events, which occur during bosses and when defeating certain enemies. While it’s easy to make fun of, I do think the QTEs, aside from the ones involving rotating the stick, are implemented really well. The whole combat system comes together to create an excellent and satisfying experience, and while it may seem simple, that doesn’t make it any less gratifying. 

Other Aspects: 

  • Leveling Up: By collecting the red orbs from enemies or from opening chests, Kratos can upgrade his weapons and abilities to the next level. Upgrading weapons grants various boosts to that particular item, as well as new combos.
  • Magic Attacks: Kratos gains access to four different magic attacks, acquired from various gods of Olympus. These magic abilities mainly involve range abilities or Area of Effect attacks; Poseidon’s Rage, the first magical attack, unleashes a large storm that decimates any enemy in its range, while Medusa’s Gaze, the second, freezes an enemy in stone, allowing for an instant kill. 
  • Rage of the Gods: By upgrading the Blades of Chaos for the first time, Kratos gains a Rage meter, which, when full, can be used to activate the Rage of the Gods ability. This state makes his attacks hit much harder, and Kratos is unaffected by enemy attacks, allowing for long, interrupted combos. 

Aside from its combat, a large part of “God of War” is exploration and puzzles. In between enemy arenas, players will explore the environment, either to progress or find hidden items and complete various puzzles. There are also various chests scattered around the levels, which mostly provide colored orbs; green orbs replenish health, blue orbs replenish magic, and red orbs give players experience points. Other, more well-hidden chests contain Gorgon Eyes and Phoenix Feathers, which increase Kratos’ maximum health and magic level, respectively. The level design is an aspect where “God of War” truly shines and propels the puzzles and exploration: The entirety of Pandora’s Temple is a series of large, interconnected puzzles that circle back to each other, and is genuinely one of the greatest designed levels ever.

Unfortunately, not everything in this game is a banger, and there’s one section that most people agree is the weakest point: The Hades level. As is a rite of passage in “God of War,” Kratos ends up falling into the Underworld, and must escape Hades’ realm in order to finally confront Ares. There is one major problem…this part absolutely sucks. Not only are the visuals migraine-inducing, but Hades relies too much on platforming, something “God of War” absolutely does not excel at. Kratos’ double jump is way too heavy to go from platform to platform easily, and there is an astonishing lack of precision in many jumps. Then, at the end of this portion, right before the final boss, you are forced to climb two massive pillars covered in spikes. This section has become infamous for one main reason: if you make one mistake and get hit by a spike, you fall all the way back down and have to do it all over again. It’s such a shame that, despite how great the game is, the final section is an absolute chore to get through.

Other criticisms

  • Suffers from “first game” syndrome, lacking many features of its sequels 
  •  A very small selection of bosses
  • The fixed camera can throw you off sometimes 

Overall, the good far outweighs the bad when it comes to “God of War.” It’s a defining game for the PlayStation 2 for a very good reason, featuring an engaging story, an iconic main character and some truly thrilling and brutal combat. Even with its occasional hiccups, the game is a thoroughly memorable and enthralling experience that still remains one of PlayStation’s best titles, with “God of War”’s formula only getting better as the series progressed. If you can find the means to play it, the first “God of War” title is more than worth your time. 

Nick McCoy is a senior at Fort Hays State University, studying digital media and journalism. An avid gamer and music listener, he reviews video games and songs and hosts the radio show “The Understanding of Nick” for KFHS.