The Gods of Olympus have abandoned me…now there is no hope.
You are Kratos, a Spartan captain. In a battle against a barbarian army that far outnumbers your own, you realize that you are about to meet your end. In desperation, you call out to Ares, the God of War. He saves your life, but only under one condition: you must serve him for the rest of your days. Indeed, it seems but a small price to pay. He gives you the Blades of Chaos, two massive blades that are chained and seared to your wrists, never to be removed. From that point on, you become a monster, killing and murdering in the name of your master Ares…until one day. Drunken with bloodlust, your ambition driving you on, you fall right into Ares’ trap, murdering your wife and child. A cruel trick orchestrated by Ares, all for the intent of making you into the perfect warrior with nothing to hold you back. It is then that you realize that you can no longer serve this insane War God…
The God of War series is easily my favorite video game series ever. It takes the mythos, people, and places of Greek mythology and creates something entirely new and different. They have a tremendous, well thought out storyline, amazing visuals, and to appease those who are hungry for violence, they’re incredibly brutal and bloody. In short, the games will please just about anyone. On top of all that, I was also incredibly impressed by the game music: original orchestral compositions that do a wonderful job of setting the mood and tone for the games. The first game’s soundtrack is decidedly less spectacular than that of the sequel, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t impressive. It’s got orchestration, chanting choir vocals, and works incredibly well when you’re playing the game; however, it has no lasting power as a standalone soundtrack. In other words, it suffers the same fate that the majority of soundtracks do.
The album opens with a quote from the game; specifically, the one I used at the beginning of this review. This is a common theme found throughout the soundtrack; many key interactions from the game are placed onto the soundtrack. Although it has a nice effect the first few times you listen, they soon become tiresome and pointless. Additionally, I feel that they used too many quotes. At times some of them feel forced, as if they felt obligated to put every key point of the storyline into the soundtrack. Still, the series has some of the most bada
ss quotes around, and I do feel that they were a nice touch; it just could have been executed better.
Musically, the developing team did not shirk their duties at all. It’s apparent that they put everything they had into this soundtrack and tried to make it as unique and fitting as possible. The sounds and instrumentation are diverse, each setting in the game having a different theme. The Aegean Sea track “Kratos and the Sea” is frantic and unpredictable, much like the waters of the Sea itself. “The Splendor of Athens” and “Athenian Battle” make great use of woodwinds and Eastern-style percussion, but despite having the most interesting instrumentation, they end up being two of the most boring tracks because of their lack of variation in sound. “Kratos’ Evil Past” has a “Gladiator” feel to it due to the single female voice in the beginning. It soon become frantic and uncertain, only to calm down again at the end. “The Great Sword Bridge of Athena” is one of the best tracks. It features a prominent horn and string section as well as beautiful female choir vocals (I really am a sucker for those). “Battle the Lethal Sirens” brings back the Eastern feel of the Athens tracks but without the boring nature, making for a compelling and interesting listen. The drumming sounds almost tribal. “Zeus’ Wrath Divine” is the vocal standout. The vocals, trumpets, and strings all contain the same melody, a motif that is repeated throughout both games. It’s a controlled chaos, relying on epic buildups and climaxes. “Minotaur Boss Battle” also contains great vocal work, sounding at times like the Underworld itself chanting in unison.
Most of the tracks I didn’t mention are either too uninteresting to talk about or they have the same characteristics as the ones I talked about. Because of this, the God of War soundtrack is definitely a mixed bag. It contains some fantastic and compelling moments, but for every two great tracks you get a bad one. As I said, it all works well in the game, but as a standalone soundtrack it contains barely any replay value. Still I do recommend checking the soundtrack out, as it does make you more aware of the music when you’re playing the game. Overall, it’s a soundtrack that doesn’t live up to how great the game is, but then again, how could it? After all, God of War is
the greatest video game series ever.
The monster you created has returned…to kill you.