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God of War is a PlayStation 2 action game that was seen by many to be one of the best of 2005 despite it's early release. Its gameplay stood out for it's brutal, violent nature and animations, while still being puzzle heavy with a compelling story. The game stars a Spartan Warrior with a shrouded past, Kratos, as he tries to kill the God of War Ares, at the order of Athena.
The critical and commercial success of God of War has lead to numerous sequels.
The story begins with Kratos on the tallest cliff in Greece, lamenting that the gods have abandoned him; hopeless, he consigns himself to the waves below. The story then rewinds three weeks into the past; as the game progresses, it also relates Kratos' past through numerous flashbacks. For reasons of simplicity, this summary covers all of these events in chronological order.
Kratos is a fearsome Spartan warrior, unmatched in strategy, tactics and ferocity; such was his success that his original fifty-man group grew into an army of thousands. However, in a battle against a barbarian horde, his army was massacred, and, in desperation, Kratos offered his life and service to Ares, the God of War, in exchange for salvation. Ares, sensing enormous power in Kratos, accepted his offer and destroyed the barbarians. He also granted Kratos the Blades of Chaos, whose chains are seared to Kratos' arms. Kratos, now Ares' servant, led his Spartans in conquering much of Greece.
In his final battle, Kratos' army came across a village that worshiped the goddess Athena and put the residents to the sword. Despite his own foreboding feelings and the warnings of the local oracle, Kratos personally entered the village's temple and slaughtered all within. Unfortunately, after his blood-lust cleared, he realized that his two last victims had been his beloved wife and daughter; Ares had engineered the battle to sever the last of Kratos' humanity and turn him into a perfect warrior: the incarnation of death itself. Despite this, Kratos renounced his service to Ares and began to wander the Aegean, lamenting his deeds and serving the gods of Olympus for ten years in exchange for redemption from his sins.
The player becomes involved in Kratos' story as he is approaching the city of Athens, under siege by Ares' army. After a battle with the Hydra, Kratos moves into the city and attempts to save it at Athena's behest. Using clever wording she tricks Kratos into helping the defending Athenian forces, believing that his haunting nightmares will cease, when in fact all the gods plan on doing is rewarding him for his efforts but never ridding him of his horrible memories. He fights his way through the attacking forces to find the Oracle of Athens, and learns from her that only Pandora's Box can give a mortal the power to kill a god. Unfortunately, due to the gods' fear of this object, the box is locked deep within the Temple of Pandora, a murderous edifice constructed on the back of the Titan Cronos, who wanders the Desert of Lost Souls.
Kratos makes his way to the Temple, defeating many foes and evading the many traps built into the Temple, and recovers Pandora's Box (a process that contains most of the game's content). However, as he pushes the Box out of the Temple, Ares senses his success and slays him with a thrown pillar. Kratos, despite this, is able to escape the Underworld and return to the mortal realm, conveniently in Athens, where he regains Pandora's Box and confronts Ares.
When Kratos wins their opening exchange, Ares attempts to drive Kratos mad by making him relive the death of his family. Ares traps Kratos in an illusion of that ill-fated temple and then forces him to defend his family against murderous clones of Kratos himself. When Kratos succeeds, Ares strips the Blades of Chaos from Kratos' arms and impales Kratos' family with them before dissolving the illusion. Freed from his own mind but now weaponless, Kratos is at the mercy of Ares until he spots the Blade of the Gods, serving as an ornamental bridge inside Athens. As he pulls it out, he engages in a sword battle with Ares. After being defeated, Ares reminds Kratos that he helped him in his time of need and then told him he was trying to make him a great warrior. Kratos responds: "You succeeded", then runs Ares through with the sword through his neck and chest. Ares collapses, and dies in a massive explosion.
After receiving congratulations from the Gods, Kratos asks Athena to remove the nightmares of his past. Athena explains that the gods can only forgive him for his sins; the nightmares are beyond anyone's power to remove. Feeling abandoned, Kratos climbs to the bluffs overlooking the Aegean Sea and tosses himself over the edge, bringing the story full circle. However, as he plummets through the waves below, he is pulled out by Athena. He has served the gods well, she explains and the Gods cannot allow one to die by his own hand who has done them such a great service, and there is a throne on Olympus that lacks an occupant: the one belonging to the God of War...