God of War: Betrayal

LG VX9900

Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 9

Sound: 8

Gameplay: 9

Overall: 9


Risking a major first party franchise on a cell phone endeavor is risky, but if God of War: Betrayal is an indication of the talent level at Sony Online Los Angeles studio, someone is due for a raise. There are no worries here as Kratos has made the transition from 3-D to 2-D miraculously well. This is one of the best mobile games you'll ever play, and has truly made the format a relevant part of the current video game scene.

If God of War was crafted in the 16-bit era, sometime after Mortal Kombat ushered in a new era of violence, this is what we would have played. Kratos is depicted here battling between the two console iterations of the series, filling in a story gap leading up to his struggle in God of War II. This franchise loses almost nothing in this transition to a far weaker and limiting platform, and it's how this move was handled that makes this mobile effort the stunner it is.

In terms of swinging the trademark weapon of the franchise, Athena's Blades, the fluid animation brings Kratos fighting style to life in astonishing detail given this will only run up an $8 charge in your monthly bill. Yes, the combo system has been simplified, yet executive producer Shalom Mann and his small team has managed to infuse the sheer brutality and force God of War is known for within the confines of the platform. Taking to the air and whipping the blades around for ridiculously high combo numbers simply feels right.

To go with the dual blades, Kratos also brings with him a set of magic attacks. Due to the simplified nature of the combat, there is rarely a situation where they're needed, or where the player will feel the urge to use them. Likewise, selecting them, which requires cycling through a full inventory, is a burden in the haste of a battle. As with the console version, everything has the ability to be powered up by defeating enemies and collecting their red orbs. The menu system is indiscernible from its PlayStation 2 counterpart, as is the title screen (complete with booming soundtrack).

Level design is deep, and playing through each stage once will lead to plenty of missed opportunity to find hidden treasure chests. The exploration aspect is addictive. Thanks to finely tuned and wisely designed controls, Kratos automatically jumps forward and the collision with platforms (in terms of grabbing them) is generous. A few minor leaps of faith are saved by an equally forgiving checkpoint system.

Enemies are intelligently spaced out to keep repetition down. Many have a specific fatality sequence that is a thing of beauty in terms of sprite art, pulled off with a series of button presses which clearly appear over the head of the soon to be victim. While the game lacks any massive, large scale confrontation, ripping someone apart with your bare hands or pulling the eyes out of a minotaur more than make up for it. The final boss requires a successful string of these sequences before finally losing his life to Kratos. Environments are likewise rendered beautifully, with a surprising amount of variation.

Unfortunately, that generosity does have its limits, at least on the LG VX 9900. Regardless of how far into a level you are, Betrayal does not save your position in the event of a phone call. While only a few of the ten available stages can be considered lengthy, it's an oversight that can lead to unbearable frustration when speaking with the caller. In the worst case, progress in the game's Arena mode (an endurance battle against never ending enemies) can be reset entirely regardless of how many helpless soldiers have been slaughtered once a call comes in.

Then again, you'll probably want to run through the level again regardless. This is far more than a generic and forgettable time waster that many mobile efforts turn out to be. Betrayal is a full-fledged extension of the God of War franchise, and it earns its title.


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Last updated: Monday, August 20, 2007 10:16 PM