''God of War II'' boasts impeccable game mechanics and plenty of bone-crunching fun. Plus, exercise your road rage in PS3's smashing ''MotorStorm''

By EW Staff
Updated March 29, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT

The Second Coming: ”God of War II”

(Sony Computer Entertainment; PlayStation 2; Mature)

Zeus is on the loose! At least he is in the sequel to the much-praised 2005 myth-busting adventure game. It turns out the Big Z has come down from Mt. Olympus to makes life difficult for Kratos, the titular Spartan warrior who achieved godly powers in the last game. Stripped of his newly gained strength, the hot-headed Kratos now has an excuse to dish out more of the eviscerations, lacerations, impalements, and dismemberments that made GoW such a bone-crunching pleasure.

While it’s easy to think of GoWII as mindless button-mashing carnage, we should point out that it has a serviceable plot — inspired by Greek mythology — and offers some pretty inventive set-driven puzzles for you to solve. You also have to appreciate its impeccable game mechanics and artistic direction. Scenes like one in which you have to figure out how to release four colossal stone horses will make you wonder how the programmers were able to squeeze these kinds of visuals from the PS2’s now-rickety graphics hardware.

GoWII also has its share of frustrating, hair-pulling moments. At one point we ran around the same battleground for 20 minutes before realizing we had to speak to a fallen soldier hidden in the background in order to trigger the next scene. Still, we were more frustrated with GoWII‘s ending, a cliffhanger that, considering the time it takes to make videogame blockbusters these days, will make waiting for the inevitable sequel an excruciating exercise in godlike patience. A?Gary Eng Walk

(Sony Computer Entertainment, PS3, Teen)

After spending more than few hours with MotorStorm, I feel compelled to voice some strong objections to the game’s premise, which has all sorts of motorized machines shattering the majestic splendor of Utah’s Monument Valley. And that’s about my only real complaint with this gas-guzzling arcade-racing title for the PS3. (Look, if you’re really in the mood to destroy fragile ecosystems, engage in senseless acts of road rage, and leave a big ol’ carbon footprint, best it take place on a TV in your living room.)

Players can choose from a variety of vehicles — from nimble motocross bikes to smoke-belching big rigs — to navigate through various desert courses. Want to grab big air and dart around boulders? Pick an ATV or dune buggy — and make sure to stay on the high roads. Plan on blasting through mud-filled gullies? Go with the heavy metal — and do everything you can to prevent the little guys from passing you. And whatever vehicle you pick, make sure to have your finger glued to the speed-boost button.

Graphically, the game is a knock-out — it may be the best-looking title on Sony’s next-gen console. (You might find yourself deliberately getting into crashes just so you can take in the spectacular super-slo-mo effect of… your… vehicle… disintegrating… bolt… by… bolt.) But the best part of MotorStorm is its control system. Sure, you can play by using the joystick to steer your vehicle — and it would be a great game with just this option. It’s just that steering via the SixAxis controller’s motion-detecting sensors really opens the game up. (Although, it does take a bit of getting used to — we spent more than a few minutes comically over-steering our ATV up rock walls, over cliffs, into other cars…)

Also offering solid online play, an appropriately loud soundtrack, and plenty of challenging courses, MotorStorm is an essential addition to the small but growing PS3 library. A?Wook Kim