God of War
I AM MY FATHER’S SON
In 2005, Santa Monica Studio released God of War for the PlayStation 2. It spawns a hand full of sequels and it became not only a major hit for the PlayStation 2 and later PlayStation 3, it also made Kratos one of the mascots of the PlayStation. Then, in 2013 Santa Monica Studio released God of War Ascension for the PlayStation 3. When it was released, it had a lukewarm response both critically and financially. This was likely due to the fact that God of War was on its sixth console game spread across two PlayStation generations and three consoles. There was even a God of War mobile game for the cellphone back in 2007. The games had a basic yet very addicting gameplay design. It wasn’t the deepest hack and slash game out there, but it was a lot of fun. When it became clear that it was time to create a new God of War game for the PlayStation 4, Santa Monica Studio knew something had to change; they couldn’t create the same game over again or risk losing the goodwill of the God of War franchise. This was a make it or break it for the team. What they did instead surprised everyone. It focused more on the character of Kratos while placing him in a new myth to be in, Norse Mythology.
The Santa Monica Team used this time to flesh out Kratos even further and created a character that is no longer the one-note character he was in the past, they have given him depth. Kratos is far more interesting now than before. This Kratos is older and wiser. Make no mistake, he still has that rage and when that rage does come, it comes in force. Kratos hasn’t gone soft. He still has rage pent up inside him, but instead of letting it consume him, he uses it to help his son, Atreus. He is a teacher of what it means to be a man he hopes Atreus will be. He is a warrior on protecting his son and does what it takes to complete the task at hand. He is a leader on making sure that Atreus will become someone better than him.
If there is one thing that God of War is known for, it’s the combat. Here it’s no different. The combat is fast, fluid, visceral and intense. The Leviathan Axe, Kratos’ new weapon, is a worthy successor to the Blade of Chaos. Stringing together high and low attacks can be a complete blast. Throwing the axe and see it hit an enemy as it comes back never got old. At times you’ll come across waves of enemies and it can be a bit too hectic of what is going on. There are two things holding game from perfection. First, is the spike in difficulty sometimes. There are a few instances where the game decides to push back and it's hardly in places you expect it to. There is one section of the game that is intense for all the wrong reasons. Then there is the camera, in a cinematic perceptive the idea of a no-cutting camera is inspiring and great. Once it gets to the combat however is where it becomes an issue. Most of the game is set over the shoulder of Kratos, even in combat. The close tight camera won’t help you when fighting enemies that have you surrounded. It’s very possible to get hit by an enemy you can’t even see, and it happens far too often. You do have an indicator to help, but when you are literally surrounded by enemies it can be hard to get out of the way. The closeness of Kratos during combat does more harm than good.
If there is one surprise in the combat, it’s Atreus himself. Don’t think of this as an escort mission. Atreus is the most useful NPC since Ellie in The Last of Us and Elizabeth in BioShock: Infinite. He’ll attack, stun and even distract enemies, and if you give him the right gear, he’ll even throw health stones your way. You can even upgrade his gear to be more useful in combat. You won’t even have to worry about him falling in battle, he can never die. He’ll rest for a few seconds, but Atreus will be back at doing all he can to help you.
The God of War series is known for its epic scale, and this God of War is no different. Because of its no-cutting camera, the scale is more impressive now than ever before. The places you go, and the enemies you met is nothing short of breathtaking. God of War has no loading screens and that makes it even more impressive. Even some of the bosses are the best in the series. Santa Monica Studio has created a technical marvel and will be talked about for years to come.
WE BUILT ANOTHER WORLD
God of War is not only one of the best games of the year; it’s one of the best looking games of the PlayStation 4. Even on a base PlayStation 4, the game looks incredible. Everything is highly detailed and has a fluidly of their motion that makes each fight a sight to behold. There is a couple of instances where the frame rate drops a bit, but only for a cinematic and for a few seconds. It can be noticeable, but it never happens during gameplay. Even now four years after the launch of the PlayStation 4, you can use this to show the power of the PlayStation 4. I can’t imagine how much better it will be in 4K on a PlayStation 4 Pro.
The voice acting here is incredible. Christopher Judge (Stargate SG-1) gives a booming performance and gives Kratos depth. One minute he is soft spoken, but deep. The next, he is at his most intimating. Sunny Suljic, who plays Atreus, is a wonderful companion to Kratos. The chemistry needed to be right for this to work and they both done it wonderfully. Another incredible performance is Jeremy Davies (LOST), but I don’t want to say too much about him because it’ll ruin the story. Composer Bear McCreary (Music of Agents of SHIELD) gives his career best. Everything sounds perfect while creating the sound of Norse Mythology.
God of War for the PlayStation 4 is the perfect evolution of the series, while there are some pretty major stumbles along the way; it’s still a fantastic game and one of the best games of the year. From the story and where it goes, to the acting, to the fast paced combat, to even the smaller details, God of War is one of the best games in the franchise and one that can’t be missed.
4 out of 5.