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Old 05-01-2018, 09:43 AM   #1
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The Evil Avatar God of War Review

Title: God of War Review
Platform: PS4
Platform Reviewed: PS4
Developer: Sony Santa Monica
Publisher: Sony
MSRP: $59.99
Writer: Aaron Birch

God of War Review

Go and buy this, boy!

When you hear the mighty roar of the engine, and shrill whistle of the hype train, once again bearing down on the gaming community, it's often the promise hauled by this locomotive in its ever-stuffed carriages of next-big-thing content arrives at the station only to disappoint. Sure, some games that are dripping with hype do justify themselves, and are solid games in their own right, but hype these days is seldom lived up to. Disappointment is often the reality, and in the worst cases, downright disdain, as false promises and broken gameplay exit onto the gaming platform to an unwelcome reception.

Thankfully, God of War evades my elongated analogy, and the hype train for Kratos' latest outing arrives on a glistening express train heading straight to the pantheon of gaming greats. Yes, I won't even try to go into the review with anything other than an instant acknowledgement that God of War is superb, and well deserving of the hype and high scores it's already been collecting.

Set after the events of the original Greek adventures of everyone's favourite angry Spartan, this adventure takes the existing God of War gameplay and throws it out of the window in a massive gamble of changing the very formula that made the series so popular in the first place. No longer do we have a button-mashing, linear brawler. Instead we have a third person open-world adventure that replaces crude gore and schoolboy lewdness, for a solid, mature, and excellently told story, one that plays every bit as well as it looks, and boy, is this game a looker.

Delighting the eyes as soon as you fire it up, God of War is a beautifully presented title that moves the series from its Greek roots into the Nordic sphere of myth and legend. Kratos now has a son, and he's taken every step to hide his past from him, instead living a quiet life in the woods with his new family.

Now, even the slightest spoiler for events in this game are something I want to avoid, so I’ll not even discuss the opening events, so crucial are they to the whole game, save to say the various questions you'll have about Kratos, his presence in this new world, and his hidden past become very apparent, and important. Of course, the story of his son, his wife, and the world as a whole all take their important places, and this is all woven into a captivating narrative thanks to excellent writing, great voice acting, and a story pacing that's just perfect.

Aside from specific, understandably important events, the game doesn’t game push you too far or fast, and at all times you're left to approach your adventure as you see fit. You can plough on with the story, or explore to find a myriad of secrets, collectibles, side quests, and more. It's not instantly apparent until a little later in the game, but the world of GoW is densely packed with secrets and extra quests, and you'll be uncovering new content left, right, and centre. There's even a Mertroidvania mechanic to proceedings that opens up previously impassible obstacles and reveals new areas to explore. Some of these secrets are specifically for end game player too, and you'll easily find yourself in fights you have no chance of winning until you level up and git gud, to quote the Soulsborne meme.

Before we look at the RPG elements though, let's focus on the actual gameplay. Played from an over-the-shoulder perspective, GoW is still a hack and slasher, but with more restraint and need to use moves and abilities in a measured, planned out way. Similar to Dark Souls, enemies here have their own strengths and weaknesses, and you'll need to learn these, and master your own abilities to progress.

Kratos can utilise light and heavy attacks with his trusty, runic axe, which can also be thrown and magically retrieved, and he can learn and use a range of new abilities. Extra power moves, combos, additional buffs and effects, they're all there to be acquired as you level up and improve weapons and armour. You can add status buffs to weapons and armour with runes and talismans, and skill tress open up said abilities.

Moving from the fast, and fluid control we had in previous GoW games to the traditionally more stilted and clunky character movement of third person games was a risk, but Sony Santa Monica has pulled it off with aplomb. Even in this totally new view, controlling Kratos is easy, and although there are a lot of inputs to memorise, you're never overwhelmed, and performing even the most complex of Kratos' more advanced moves is simple enough. It's a joy to cut a bloody swath through the well designed menagerie of Nordic fantasy's roster of creatures and villains, an you'll be mixing up tactics for each and every kind of foe you come up against. Some will be made quick work of with your axe, whilst others may need some hand-to-hand TLC, with a sprinkle of a shield bash to two for good measure. Combat never gets dull or repetitive, and the game constantly mixes things up, introducing new enemies regularly, as well as the series; staple, dare I say it, Epic boss fights. (GoW is one of the only games to justify the use of the word).

That's not all, though, and Kratos' son, Atreus, is also along for the ride, and he's far from a defenceless kid. With his useful bow and arrows, he's an essential part of the team, especially once you power him up with all sorts of useful arrow attacks and specials. Using him in combat is a breeze too, with a simple, but perfectly implemented control system that makes fighting as Kratos and aiding him with Atreus easy, and second nature. It's just great.

The world featured in the game takes in all the staples of Nordic mythology, with the core location of Midgard being your main stomping ground, as well as other realms, such as Helheim coming into play as you move on through the long and always engaging tale. Indeed, I was surprised at just how long GoW is, and more importantly, how it remains totally absorbing throughout. You never once get tired and wonder when the end is coming. Instead, you lose yourself in the rich, jam-packed world, ticking off those elusive collectibles, and delving into optional side quests, all of which are just as enjoyable as the main story.

It's at this point where I'll usually touch on some of the downsides of a game. After all, no game is perfect, but to be honest, finding faults here is not easy, even if you try to nitpick. There's just nothing I can really pick out to warrant as a bonafide negative point.

At a push, I could say the game can be a little unfair with some of it's optional challenges, throwing very high level enemies at low level players who dare to explore, but that's the point here. The game pretty much says “nope, you're not ready”, just as Kratos often advises Atreus. Indeed, just as the game's story is all about a father and son forming a bond and the boy coming of age, the game also treats you the same way at times, giving you tough challenges and forcing you to work hard, get better, and then try again. It's a life lesson, only using dangerous mythical beasts to get the message across. Even the use of QTE events, something the original games were often criticised for overusing, are minimal here, and when used, it's actually well done and not jarring.

To sum up, and if you needed any further elaboration, God of War is a superb and nigh-on perfect game. Not only has Sony Santa Monica taken an already critically loved game and successfully turned it on its head to produce something new and exciting, but it's also created one of the best games of this generation, if not all time, whilst doing so. It's a fantastic achievement, and the result is a game that every single PS4 owner needs to buy. Not got a PS4? Buy one, and then buy this.

Score:5 out of 5

The Good
  • Looks gorgeous
  • Plays brilliantly
  • Excellent story
The Bad
  • Erm...
  • Nope, hiting a blank here
The Ugly
  • Nah, nothing.
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