God of War (2005 video game)
God of War is an action-adventure game developed by Santa Monica Studio and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. First released on March 22, 2005, for the PlayStation 2 console, it is the first installment in the series of the same name and the third chronologically. Loosely based on Greek mythology, it is set in ancient Greece with vengeance as its central motif. The player controls the protagonist Kratos, a Spartan warrior who serves the Olympian Gods. The goddess Athena tasks Kratos with killing Ares, the God of War and Kratos' former mentor who tricked Kratos into killing his wife and daughter. As Ares besieges Athens out of hatred for Athena, Kratos embarks on a quest to find the one object capable of stopping the god once and for all: Pandora's Box.
The gameplay of God of War focuses on combo-based combat, achieved through the player's main weapon—the Blades of Chaos—and a secondary weapon acquired later in the game. It features quick time events that require the player to complete various game controller actions in a timed sequence to defeat stronger enemies and bosses. The player can use up to four magical attacks and a power-enhancing ability as alternative combat options. It also features puzzles and platforming elements.
God of War sold more than 4.6 million copies worldwide, making it the fourteenth best-selling PlayStation 2 game of all time. Regarded as one of the best action-adventure games for the platform, it won several "Game of the Year" awards. In 2009, entertainment website IGN named God of War the seventh-best PlayStation 2 game of all time. It received widespread critical acclaim for its graphics, sound, story, and gameplay and has been hailed as one of the greatest video games ever made. Success of the game led to the development of seven more games and expansion into other media. The game and its first sequel, God of War II, were remastered and released in November 2009 as part of the God of War Collection, and in 2012, the remastered version was re-released as part of the God of War Saga, both for the PlayStation 3. A novelization of the game was published in May 2010 and a film adaptation has been in development since 2005.
GameplayGod of War is a third-person single player action-adventure video game with hack and slash elements, viewed from a fixed camera perspective. The player controls the character Kratos in combo-based combat, platforming, and puzzle game elements, and battles Greek mythological foes that include undead soldiers, harpies, minotaurs, Medusa and the Gorgons, cyclopes, wraiths, Sirens, satyrs, centaurs, cerberuses, and boss opponents—the Hydra and a giant minotaur known as Pandora's Guardian. 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, but others are more complex, such as finding several items across different areas of the game to unlock one door.
Throughout the game world, the player finds green, red, and blue chests that contain orbs of the corresponding color. Green orbs replenish the player's health, blue orbs replenish magic, and red orbs provide experience for upgrading weapons and magic and replenish the Rage meter, which, if full, allows for the usage of the Rage of the Gods ability. Red orbs are also collected by killing foes and destroying certain inanimate objects. The player can also find Gorgon Eyes and Phoenix Feathers that increase the length of the Health and Magic Meters, respectively.
CombatKratos' main weapon is the Blades of Chaos: a pair of blades attached to chains wrapped around the character's wrists and forearms. In gameplay, the blades can be swung in various maneuvers. Later in the game, Kratos acquires a secondary weapon called the Blade of Artemis: a large sword that offers alternative combat options. Kratos also learns to use four magical abilities which allow him to kill individual and multiple targets. Other magical abilities include Medusa's Gaze, Poseidon's Rage, and Army of Hades. A relic called Poseidon's Trident allows Kratos to breathe underwater and navigate through this environment. Early in the game, Kratos acquires a special ability called Rage of the Gods, which provides temporary invulnerability and increased attack damage.
In combat, a quick time event is initiated when the player has weakened a strong foe. The player performs a sequence of actions on the game controller shortly after an image of its circle button appears as an on-screen prompt. This allows for limited control of Kratos during a QTE cinematic sequence, which, if successful, ends the battle; failure usually results in damaging Kratos. Similar in function is a quick time sex mini-game that occurs when Kratos encounters female twins; this became a regular feature throughout the series until .
When the game is completed, a challenge mode—ten trials called the Challenge of the Gods—is unlocked; this requires players to complete a series of specific tasks. The player may unlock bonus costumes for Kratos, behind-the-scenes videos, and concept art of the characters and environments, as rewards. Completion of each difficulty level unlocks additional rewards.
SettingGod of War is set in an alternate version of ancient Greece populated by the Olympian gods, Titans, and other Greek mythological beings. With the exception of flashbacks, the events of the game are set between those of the games ' and '. There are six locations explored, including fictional versions of the real-world Aegean Sea and Athens, and fictional locations of the Desert of Lost Souls, the Temple of Pandora, the Underworld, and a brief scene on Mount Olympus.
The Aegean Sea setting includes a mass of shipwrecked vessels. Athens is a war-torn city under assault by Ares, the God of War; beyond the city is the Desert of Lost Souls, a vast and windy desert of ancient ruins. The majority of the game occurs in Pandora's Temple, which is chained to the back of the Titan Cronos, who crawls through the desert. The massive temple, constructed by the architect Pathos Verdes III, is filled with traps and monsters, and has three sections dedicated to the Titan Atlas and gods Poseidon and Hades, respectively. The Underworld is a fiery realm with spiked pillars full of souls and flaming versions of previously encountered enemies. Athens is the scene of the final battle before a denouement on Mount Olympus in the God of War's throne room.
CharactersThe protagonist of the game is Kratos, a Spartan warrior who serves the Olympian Gods. Other characters include a host of Greek gods, such as Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom and Kratos' ally and mentor; Ares, the God of War and main antagonist; Poseidon, the God of the Sea; Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love and Sexuality; Zeus, the King of the Gods; Artemis, the Goddess of the Hunt; and Hades, the God of the Underworld. Several of the gods aid Kratos with magic or weapons. Minor characters include the Oracle of Athens, the gravedigger, the body burner, and the boat captain. Other characters appear in flashbacks, including Kratos' wife Lysandra, his daughter Calliope, the Barbarian King, and a Village Oracle. The game is narrated by Linda Hunt.
PlotKratos is a warrior who serves the Greek gods of Olympus. Flashbacks reveal that he was once a successful but bloodthirsty captain in the Spartan army and led his men to several victories before being defeated by a barbarian king. Facing death, Kratos called on the God of War, Ares, whom he promised to serve if the god would spare his men and provide the power to destroy their enemies. Ares agreed and bonded the Blades of Chaos, a pair of chained blades forged in the depths of Tartarus, to his new servant. Kratos, equipped with the blades, then decapitated the barbarian king.
Kratos waged war at the behest of Ares, eventually leading an attack on a village occupied by worshipers of Athena. Unknown to Kratos, Ares had secretly transported Kratos' wife and daughter to the village; during his frenzied attack on its temple, Kratos accidentally killed them while he was under a spell cast upon him by Ares. Although Ares believed this act would free Kratos to become the perfect warrior, the horrified and saddened Spartan instead renounced his pledge of servitude to the god, and swore vengeance against him. The oracle of the destroyed village cursed Kratos by bonding the ashes of his dead family to his skin, turning it ash-white and earning him the nickname, "Ghost of Sparta". Plagued by nightmares of his horrible deed, Kratos vowed to serve the other gods in hope of ridding himself of the visions.
When the game starts, Kratos has been serving the gods for ten years. He kills the Hydra on behalf of Poseidon, but he has grown tired of his service and suffering. He summons Athena, who states that if Kratos performs one final act—the murder of Ares—he will be forgiven for killing his family. Ares is waging war on the city of Athens out of hatred and jealousy of his sister Athena, who assigns Kratos to destroy Ares because Zeus has forbidden divine intervention. Athena guides Kratos to the war-torn Athens. After a strange encounter with a gravedigger who encourages him to continue his task, Kratos battles his way to Athens's oracle, finds her, and learns that the only way to defeat Ares is with Pandora's Box, a mythical artifact that grants the power to kill a god.
Kratos enters the Desert of Lost Souls, and Athena tells him Pandora's Box is hidden in a temple chained to the back of the Titan Cronos—a punishment by Zeus for Cronos' role in the Great War. Kratos summons Cronos, climbs for three days before reaching the Temple entrance, overcomes an array of deadly traps and an army of monsters, and eventually finds the Box. But Ares, aware of his former servant's success, kills Kratos as he is leaving the Temple by hurling a large pillar into him. While harpies take the Box to Ares, Kratos falls into the Underworld. He battles his way through the fiery realm, and with help from the mysterious gravedigger, who tells him Athena is not the only god watching over him, he escapes and returns to Athens.
Kratos recovers Pandora's Box from Ares, opens it, and uses its power to become godlike. Despite Ares' best efforts to destroy Kratos physically and mentally, including stripping him of the Blades of Chaos and all magic, he survives and kills Ares with the Blade of the Gods, a giant sword that was being used as an ornamental bridge to Athens. Athens is saved, and Athena tells Kratos that although his sins are forgiven, the gods cannot erase his nightmares. Forsaken by the gods, he tries to commit suicide by casting himself into the Aegean Sea, but Athena intervenes and transports him to Mount Olympus. As a reward for his services to the gods, she provides Kratos with a new set of blades and the seat as the new God of War.
Developmentbegan development of God of War in 2002, under the working title Dark Odyssey, and unveiled it two years later at SCEA Santa Monica Gamers' Day 2004. In a meeting with GameSpot at the 2004 Electronic Entertainment Expo, the developers said there would be 15 to 25 different attacks with the player's main weapon in the final game, with a free-form combo system that would allow players to combine moves in almost any order. GameSpot said the developers described the gameplay "as merging the action of Devil May Cry with the puzzle-solving of Ico" and noted that players would be able to "sunder enemies with a single move, such as by ripping them in half".
Game Director and creator David Jaffe confirmed the game would be a cinematic presentation. He said that at E3, they got to see where players were having issues with the camera system and said, "we are doing extensive focus tests, and using data compiled from E3, to find and fix the problem areas" of the cameras. He said he had the confidence that the team would fix the problems before the game's release. However, he said if players "hate cinematic camera systems, nothing we can do will help you like the God of War cameras". The game uses Santa Monica's Kinetica engine, which they developed for their previous game, Kinetica.
Although the game is based on Greek mythology, the development team gave themselves "lots of freedom" to modify the myths, and Jaffe said they took the "coolest aspects of the subject" and wrote a story using those elements. In an interview for Eurogamer, he said while the idea for God of War was his own, the concept owed a debt to Capcom because he had played Onimusha and said "let's do that with Greek Mythology". He was inspired in part by the 1981 feature film, Clash of the Titans, saying, "the real high concept for me was... merging it with Heavy Metal magazine". He said he liked both "the kids stuff ... with Greek Mythology" and the idea of adding more adult themes such as sex and violence.
After E3 2004, Jaffe told IGN that the creative team's goal was to "make the player feel brutal, letting their inner beast free and just going nuts". He said the game's combat system would have an unparalleled degree of freedom. The team designed two systems of combat: a "macro" system, which gives players the choice between normal combat, magical attacks, or using the QTE feature to kill a foe; and a "micro" system, where players press a sequence of buttons to perform different attacks. Puzzles were implemented, including self-contained ones that incorporate up to three rooms of the game, and global puzzles that spread across four or five areas. Jaffe compared the game to the popular Prince of Persia series—which also incorporates puzzle and platforming elements—and said that while each puzzle in that series is a slight variation of the last, "each puzzle in God of War is its own beast".
Frank Cifaldi of Gamasutra covered a speech by Jaffe on the development of God of War at the 2006 D.I.C.E. Summit in Las Vegas. Cifaldi said "God of War was a rare opportunity for a game designer" because Sony gave Jaffe nearly complete creative control to develop a game on his terms with a substantial budget. He stated that Jaffe wanted to make the game "out of passion, not fear, and that it would be a game that himself, as a game player, would want to play". Jaffe said the 1981 film Raiders of the Lost Ark also inspired the development of God of War; he wanted to make players feel like he felt as a child watching that film, but did not want to put the player in the role of an adventurer, referencing The Legend of Zelda games. He elaborated that God of War was designed to be simplistic and forward-moving, but the game "is not innovative or unique, and that's intentional". Jaffe said that their system was shallow and "it forced the team to constantly create new content to trapeze the player from one area of interest to the next". He said he understood modular game design—the need to have great looking, high-detail levels without having to build and texture every minuscule piece of the environment—but " was going to get bored" if they did not step outside of those boundaries.
ReleaseThe demo of God of War, entitled God of War: The Hydra Battle, was released on January 1, 2005. It featured Kratos battling various opponents and ended with a portion of the Hydra battle that opens the main game. The game was released on March 22 in North America, July 8 in the United Kingdom, and November 17 in Japan. By the end of July, it was the sixth-best-selling game of 2005 up to that point. In 2006, it became available in the PlayStation 2 lineup of Greatest Hits. By July 2006, the game had sold 1 million copies and earned $43 million in the United States alone. Next Generation ranked it as the 50th highest-selling game launched for the PlayStation 2, Xbox, or GameCube between January 2000 and July 2006 in that country. In June 2012, Sony reported that the game sold more than 4.6 million copies worldwide.
The game and its sequel, God of War II, were released in North America on November 17, 2009, as part of the God of War Collection, featuring remastered ports of both games for the PlayStation 3 platform, with upscaled graphics and support for PlayStation 3 Trophies. It became available in Japan on March 18, 2010, Australia on April 29, and the UK on April 30. The God of War Collection was released as a digital download on the PlayStation Store on November 2, 2010, and was the first product containing PlayStation 2 software available via download. PlayStation Plus subscribers can download a one-hour trial of each game. By June 2012, God of War Collection had sold more than 2.4 million copies worldwide. A PlayStation Vita version of God of War Collection was released on May 6, 2014. On August 28, 2012, God of War Collection, God of War III, and were included in the God of War Saga, under Sony's line of PlayStation Collections for the PlayStation 3 in North America.
SoundtrackGod of War: Original Soundtrack from the Video Game, composed by Gerard K. Marino, Ron Fish, Winifred Phillips, Mike Reagan, Cris Velasco, Winnie Waldron, and Marcello De Francisci, was released on CD by Sony Computer Entertainment as an exclusive product for the Sony Connect Music Store on March 1, 2005. The soundtrack was also made available for free to customers who purchased the game via a voucher code included with the game. Several of the tracks feature voice-over passages from the video game. Dave Valentine of Square Enix Music Online rated it 8 out of 10 and praised the composers for avoiding the production of "a neverending dullness of action themes". He complimented the soundtrack for having "a large number of well-developed orchestral themes, with a noticeable creative use of ancient and ethnic instrumentation". Spence D. of IGN gave the soundtrack 6.9 out of 10 and also praised the use of ancient and ethnic instrumentation, but criticized the uneven transitions between tracks. In March 2010, the soundtrack was released as downloadable content as part of the God of War Trilogy Soundtrack in the God of War III Ultimate Edition.
ReceptionGod of War received "universal acclaim" according to review aggregator Metacritic with a score of 94 out of 100, and a score of 94% from GameRankings. Tom Lane of CNN wrote, "God of War is the type of game that makes you remember why you play games in the first place." He said it is addictive and the action is balanced with a modest amount of puzzle and platforming elements. He praised how quickly it progresses and said it "is one of the most violent on the market".
Raymond Padilla of GameSpy said the gameplay is "excellent" and it has "some of the goriest, most exaggerated, and over-the-top violence I've ever seen". He praised the combo system for being generous, with players easily able to execute attack combinations, but added that it can challenge players who "throw themselves into the system". Chris Sell of PAL Gaming Network wrote that the most enjoyable aspect of the combat is its simplicity. He said the QTEs are "superbly enjoyable", "highly satisfying", and most entertaining during boss fights. In regards to combining combat with platforming, Sell said, "God of War pulls it off perfectly."
Lane said the story is "compelling", while Sell stated that it is well laid out and rarely stalls. Padilla wrote, "God of War is the best thing to happen to Greek mythology" since Harry Hamlin played Perseus in Clash of the Titans. He praised the sound as very strong, but felt that some of the voice acting and music tracks are overstated. Kristan Reed of Eurogamer said the audio is "a stunningly evocative example of a well-judged dramatic soundtrack and thunderous effects".
Sell stated that the graphics are "quite possibly the best on the PS2" and rival games on the Xbox. He said the character models are "excellent" and each level has its own distinctive feel. Eric Blattberg of PlayStation Universe praised the graphics for being seamless, realistic, and capable of being able to run at 480p on a widescreen television. He said the textures are "great", and the environments are "stunning and unbelievably detailed." Mikel Reparaz of GamesRadar noted the amount of detail, elaborating that as a consequence of the aging hardware of the PS2, "the graphics occasionally stutter or even slow down." He still gave the game a perfect score, concluding, "these problems are minor nits next to God of Wars creative design, riveting plot and sheer balls-out fun. One of the best action titles on the PS2, God of War stands out as an ultraviolent masterpiece."
Sell said God of War has very few flaws and that the only one worth mentioning is the camera system: he said that although the cameras do a great job of following Kratos, "there are a fair few annoying moments when you're attacked by something off-screen, or you fail to make a jump because you couldn't really see the jump properly". Other minor complaints from Sell include its lack of replayability, the amount of time it takes to upgrade items, and the final fight with Ares, which he said is "a little disappointing". Reed wrote that in a few notable occasions, he found some of the platforming balancing acts "a little bothersome". He said players may be overwhelmed by the number of enemies, but they will eventually get their "brain and reactions in gear and move onto the next gripping section and feel hugely satisfied".
Awards and accoladesGod of War won several "Game of the Year" awards. At the 2005 Spike Video Game Awards, it was named "Best Action Game" and David Jaffe won "Designer of the Year" for the game. It was also a nominee for "Game of the Year", "Best Performance by a Human Male", and "Best Original Score". At the 2006 Interactive Achievement Awards, it won several awards, including "Overall Game of the Year", "Console Game of the Year", and "Action/Adventure Game of the Year". In 2009, IGN named God of War the seventh-best PlayStation 2 game of all time. In November 2012, Complex magazine named God of War the eleventh-best PlayStation 2 game of all time.
NovelAn official novelization of the game, titled God of War, was announced in July 2009, along with a novelization of God of War II. It was written by Matthew Stover and Robert E. Vardeman, and was published on May 25, 2010, by Del Rey Books. In an interview for Play magazine, Vardeman said a mythology book written in the 1930s got him interested in Greek mythology, and the chance to work on the God of War novel "was an opportunity not to be missed". He said giving the readers a solid plot foundation was necessary and the novel required extra material so that it did not simply follow the action of the game. Although he has not played the game, he said God of War was based on the traditional Edith Hamilton Greek mythology, essentially "the accepted mythology on steroids". Vardeman called Kratos a substantial character, continuing, "This conflict of motives makes him a great, if troubled, hero." He confirmed his work on the second God of War novel, saying there are many potential story ideas for Kratos and that "it would be a shame" if there were not additional books to fill in the details of his quests, such as stories of the time while he was a minion of Ares or before he met the Barbarian King. God of War was nominated for the International Association of Tie-in Writers Scribe Award as best adapted novel in 2010.
The novel recounts the events of the game and offers deeper insights into its story, explaining that Athena wanted Kratos to kill Ares and explaining how she manipulated the other gods, with the exception of Zeus, into aiding Kratos. After learning of Athena's plans, Zeus decides to aid Kratos with the intention of Kratos becoming the new God of War after killing Ares. Poseidon is persuaded by Athena when she convinces him that Ares brought the Hydra into his domain. Artemis is persuaded because Ares and his minions are destroying her wilderness and its wildlife, and by aiding Kratos she will prevent future destruction. Athena manipulates Aphrodite into believing that Medusa is plotting against her. Hades, however, is omitted from the book, as Kratos does not meet him or gain his magic. Another omission from the book is Kratos receiving a new set of blades from Athena, and the Blades of Chaos is revealed to have been forged by Hephaestus in Tartarus.
The god Hermes is not in the game, but in the novel, he is responsible for informing Athena that Kratos is committing suicide. New characters include Coeus, the First Officer of Kratos' ship, and the two servants of Medusa: Jurr and a blind man. The twins encountered in the sex mini-game are revealed to be the daughters of Aphrodite named Zora and Lora. The book also explains how certain creatures of the mythology that were slain by heroes are, apparently, still alive. For example, Zeus recollects that Hercules slew the Hydra, and Athena confirms this, but informs Zeus that the new Hydra is a newborn spawn of the Titans Typhon and Echidna, and was released by Ares.
FilmA film adaptation was announced in 2005. Jaffe confirmed that a script had been completed by David Self and they were looking for a director. Universal Studios was committed to making the film, but Jaffe, unaware of its status, eventually expressed doubt the film would be released. In September 2008, Brett Ratner told UGO that he would direct the film, but in February 2009, it was revealed that he had left the project to direct 2011's Tower Heist. In March 2010, Santa Monica confirmed that they have no creative control over the film. During the God of War – Game Directors Live documentary, filmed on September 1, 2010, Jaffe said the "script went out a year and a half ago to Daniel Craig, who plays Bond, but he turned it down". He indicated an actor had since signed on for the role of Kratos, and said, "this new person is pretty good, if that ends up true".
In July 2012, The Hollywood Reporter confirmed that two of the writers of Pacific Rim, Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan, had been hired to adapt God of War into a film. Melton and Dunstan told IGN that they were hired to rework Self's screenplay as it was considered to be outdated, being written before recent films in the same genre, such as Clash of the Titans and its sequel, Wrath of the Titans. They said they wanted to humanize Kratos, who would begin as a mortal and still have his family, with the pivotal change being the barbarian attack. Melton added, "We're going to learn about and understand how he operates. So it's potentially 30 minutes ... of building up this character so that, when he... becomes the Ghost of Sparta, we understand him as a human and... the journey that he's going to take." According to Dunstan, "with a bigger movie like God of War, you have to go quite a bit deeper into the character as opposed to a horror film". Melton and Dunstan also said they had "big plans" for Ares, who they wanted "to build up a bit more ... so that he can become a true villain" beyond his raid of Athens.
In November 2012, the writers told GameSpot that God of War would "improve on films like Clash of the Titans and Immortals by taking a step in a bolder direction." Melton said that Sony "encouraged" them to make it different from other films in the same genre. It was also confirmed that Charles Roven and Alex Gartner, the producers of the Uncharted film, would be producing the God of War film via Atlas Entertainment. In early 2013, 's Game Director, Todd Papy, said he did not know the status of the film. The main writer behind the God of War video games, Marianne Krawczyk, said her main worry with the movie adaptation was casting Kratos: "The player has a personal experience with him, and then he's going to be embodied by a different actor, he's going to have a different voice, he's going to say a lot more words. So I think it will be hard to get that across," but she was hopeful that it could be done. As of ,, the film is without a director, no actors have been confirmed, a release date has not been set, but the script has been "turned in", and the film has a budget of $150 million USD.
Since March 26, 2013, there have been no further updates about this adaptation, but following the release of 2018's God of War, rumors about a potential adaptation of that game began circulating. 's director Steven S. DeKnight stated he would like to direct an adaptation of that game and talked with Sony about making it R-rated. As a big fan of the series, DeKnight said he wants to see the franchise adapted and wants Dave Bautista for the role of Kratos.