God of War II is a third person action-adventure video gadeveloped by Santa Monica Studio and published by Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE). First released for the PlayStation 2 (PS2) console on March 13, 2007, it is the second installment in the God of War series, the sixth chronologically, and the sequel to 2005's God of War. The game is loosely based on Greek mythology and set in ancient Greece, with vengeance as its central motif. The player controls the protagonist Kratos, the new God of War who killed the former, Ares. Kratos is betrayed by Zeus, the King of the Olympian Gods, who strips him of his godhood and kills him. Slowly dragged to the Underworld, he is saved by the Titan Gaia, who instructs him to find the Sisters of Fate, as they can allow him to travel back in time, avert his betrayal, and take revenge on Zeus. Unsuccessful at killing Zeus, Kratos uses the power of the Fates to retrieve the Titans from the past, and leads them in an assault on Mount Olympus.
The gameplay is very similar to the previous installment. It 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 harpies, minotaurs, Gorgons, griffins, cyclopes, cerberuses, sirens, satyrs, and nymphs. Other monsters were created specifically for the game, including undead legionnaires, ravens, undead barbarians, beast lords, rabid hounds, wild boars, and the army of the Fates, including sentries, guardians, juggernauts, and high priests. Many of the combination attacks used in God of War reappear, and the game features more than double the amount of boss fights and more difficult puzzles than the original. 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, while others are more complex, such as finding several items across different areas of the game to unlock one door.
The player finds chests colored green, blue, red, or gold, and each chest contains orbs of the corresponding color. Green orbs replenish the player's health, blue orbs replenish magic allowing further usage, red orbs provide experience for upgrading weapons and magic—making new, more powerful attacks available—and gold orbs replenish the Rage meter for Rage of the Titans ability. Red orbs are also collected by killing foes and destroying certain inanimate objects. As in the original game, the player can 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. The player can also find three Uber Chests: two of the chests provide an additional increment to the Health and Magic Meters, respectively, and the third chest contains an abundance of red and gold orbs. Several urns are hidden in the game (e.g., the Urn of Gaia), which, upon completion of the challenge mode, unlocks special abilities (e.g., unlimited magic) for use during bonus play.
Kratos' main weapon is Athena's Blades (also known as the Blades of Athena): a pair of blades attached to chains that are wrapped around the character's wrists and forearms. In gameplay, the blades can be swung offensively in various maneuvers. As the game progresses, Kratos acquires new weapons—the Barbarian Hammer, the Spear of Destiny, and periodically, the Blade of Olympus—offering alternative combat options. Although Kratos begins the game with Athena's Blades and the magic ability, Poseidon's Rage (at maximum power), the blade's power is reduced and the magic is relinquished after an encounter with Zeus. Additionally, Kratos learns to use up to four magical abilities, such as Typhon's Bane that acts as a bow and arrow for distant targets, giving him a variety of ways to attack and kill enemies. Other magical abilities include Cronos' Rage, Head of Euryale, and Atlas Quake. The special ability, Rage of the Gods, featured in the previous game is replaced by Rage of the Titans, which provides a temporary defense boost (but no invulnerability) and increased attack damage. Unlike the previous game, the Rage meter—which allows usage of the ability—does not have to be full in order to use the ability, and can be switched on and off at will.