God of War is a third-person action-adventure video 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, who tricked Kratos into killing his own wife and child. As Ares besieges Athens out of hatred for Athena, Kratos embarks on a quest to find the one object capable of stopping the god: the legendary Pandora's Box.
God of War sold more than 4.6 million copies worldwide and is the eleventh 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 has been highly regarded for its graphics, sound, presentation, and story, in addition to its gameplay. 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 and a film adaptation has been in development since 2005.
Kratos is a warrior who serves the Greek gods of Olympus. Flashbacks reveal that he was once a successful 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. Ares had secretly transported Kratos' wife and child to the village; during his frenzied attack on its temple, Kratos accidentally killed them. Although Ares believed this act would free Kratos to become the perfect warrior, the Spartan instead renounced his pledge of servitude to the god. 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...
The protagonist of the game is Kratos (voiced by Terrence C. Carson), a Spartan warrior who serves the Olympian Gods.
Other characters include a host of Greek gods, such as:
- Athena (Carole Ruggier), the Goddess of Wisdom and Kratos' ally and mentor
- Ares (Steven Blum), the God of War and main antagonist
- Poseidon (Fred Tatasciore), the God of the Sea
- Aphrodite (Carole Ruggier), the Goddess of Love and Sexuality
- Zeus (Paul Eiding), the King of the Gods
- Artemis (Claudia Black), the Goddess of the Hunt
- and Hades (Nolan North), the God of the Underworld
Several of the gods aid Kratos with magic or weapons. Minor characters include the Oracle of Athens (Susan Blakeslee), the gravedigger (Paul Eiding), the body burner (Christopher Corey Smith), and the boat captain (Keith Ferguson). Other characters appear in flashbacks, including Kratos' wife Lysandra (Gwendoline Yeo), his child Calliope, the Barbarian King, and a Village Oracle (Susan Blakeslee). The game is narrated by Linda Hunt.
God of War is 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 undead soldiers, harpies, minotaurs, Medusa and her 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 chests colored green, blue, or red, and each chest contains orbs of the corresponding color. Green orbs replenish the player's health, blue orbs replenish magic allowing further usage, and red orbs provide experience for upgrading weapons and magic—allowing new, more powerful attacks—and replenishing 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 in unmarked chests. The Eyes and Feathers increase the length of the Health and Magic Meters, respectively; finding eighteen of an item maximizes a meter and in turn, the player's power.