The last console I owned was an 8-bit Nintendo system which I had for less 6-months before the 16-bit revolution came around. I wasn't even finished with Super Mario Brothers (*whispers* I never actually finished - shhhh!) and all of a sudden SUPER Nintendo was vying for the the console crown against Sega's Genesis in the fourth great console war. Understandably, I (or rather my parents) wasn't going to fork over another $100 to upgrade to a new system, so I was stuck with Zelda and Ryu Hayabusa until 2008.
Last year, I finally gave in and bought another platform, the PSP. Whoohoo! As ever, I was late to the game, only deciding to do it once I'd seen that it was actually a good value, with a nice library of good games and a lot of playability. I'm very frugal when it comes to things that are NOT toys. It basically took me 3 years to realize what I was missing not having played God of War.
Let's just say that as soon as I started playing I was hooked. You didn't get games like this when I was a kid. I mean it's a guy going up agains huge monsters and legions of soldiers all be his lonesome. It took me awhile to get used to the 3D playing field (once a side-scroller baby, always a side-scroller baby), but it eventually came to me. What I realized is that the games of today are a hell of a lot easier than my day. How many hours did I waste on that idiotic puzzle level in Mario where you had to go up and down this or that pipe to escape, or in Zelda where you had to go North, North, South, South, East, West, etc, etc, etc. before you could find that next labyrinth. Remember Ninja Gaiden and the jumping over crevices? Didn't you just wish you could take a shotgun and some buckshot and blow a hole through those fliers?
Thankfully, God of War was like a lot of games today; fun. They're relatively easy and great to look at, with really engaging stories. We like to say that "they don't make 'em like they used to", and that's true. They make 'em a hell of a lot better now.
The same can be said of toys as well thankfully. Time was we'd have gotten some crappy 5 point articulation 4" figure with accessories that made no sense. What we got instead was a kick-ass figure with decent articulation, an awesome sculpt, and accessories that are frighteningly well done!
Let's start with the packaging. I think I've said it before, but NECA is one of the best when it comes to clamshell packaging. Most people don't like clamshells, but for a collector who wants to be able to open toys, but put them back in the package, they're second only to the box. If you're careful, you can cut around two sides and silde out the plastic tray with out damaging the plastic. Then if you decide to store him, pop him back in. Me, I just toss the whole thing out after I'm done.
The great thing about the NECA Player Select line is that they come with their very own backdrops. There is a small paper insert that acts as a backing in the box, but if you have some board and a few of those black stand things that came with the Toybiz ML's, you've got a nice little display.
Both the regular version and the Golden Fleece version have some nice gear. If you're only going to get one, then I'd suggest the regular version because of the "Flaming Blades of Athena". You'll get the knife version, and a set of two flame arcs that the blades attach to to simulate the moves in the game. Really really cool stuff.
The "Golden Fleece" set has the blades, but not the burning chain arcs. Instead, it comes with the severed head of medusa. It's a bit odd, but he doesn't really hold the head. Instead, you have to switch his hand entirely with one that is sculpted grasping the head already.
Aside from the gear, Kratos also comes with his shorts. Apparently, Boxers weren't the in thing back in the day, so he's stuck with a kilt. It's removable, but I doubt guys will want to display old Whitey in his banana hammock.
Another nice touch is that the heads of the figures are interchangable. If you want him grimacing or if you want him stoic, it's up to you. If you want to flip his head with Raziel, go for it. The same goes for the ball-jointed hands, but they are a bit loose:
As for articulation, Kratos is an improvement on the old NECA toys, but he's below the newer ones like the TMNT line and Ryu Hayabusa. He still has several of the ugly NECA cut joints. His hips in particular are horrendous, little more than angled cut joints that don't work very well. Thigh cuts are there to help, thankfully. Another problem is that the joints are all LOOSE, especially the ankle and wrist joints. Trying to photograph him is a pain, since he falls over every three seconds, or drops his chains. There's an included stand, but trust me, it's worthless.
So the big question... is he worth the p1,200 suggested retail, or the p1,500-2,000 he regularly goes for on eBay? I'd say no, he isn't. His problems standing and holding his weapons really can tick you off. If you're a fan and just really really want a Kratos figure, I'd say go for the regular one. The Flaming Blades really do look good and the head and armor, or all the gimmicks in the three variant releases after that aren't worth the extra cash. I would have liked it better if they had given him some monsters to vanquish or nekkid Greek Godesses to consort with.