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God of War is an action-adventure game developed by Santa Monica Studio and published by Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE). First released on March 22, 2005, for the PlayStation 2 (PS2) 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, the entertainment website IGN named God of War the seventh-best PlayStation 2 game of all time. It has been highly praised for its graphics, sound, story, and gameplay and has been cited as one of the greatest video games ever made. The 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 (PS3). A novelization of the game was published in May 2010. A film adaptation had been in development for many years but was ultimately cancelled.
God 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, Cerberus, 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 colour. 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.
Kratos 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 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 artefact that grants the power to kill a god.