XI
you are not logged in
Review

God Of War Review

Norsome

There’s plenty about the new God of War that will divide fans of the series, but no one can deny just how much of a risk Sony Santa Monica has taken with this latest instalment. While there are some obvious similarities, these are dwarfed by a wealth of experimental new ideas and design choices. God of War is a clean break from the high octane hyper-violence of the original Kratos saga. Though it looks to continue his legacy, it finally adds some depth to the most murderous of PlayStation mascots.

Up until now he’s been a one-dimensional wrecking ball, completely annihilating everything in his path. For some fans that’s all they’ve ever wanted from Kratos – to control this ultimate avatar of rage on an unending quest for vengeance. However, nowadays, with complex and evocative game narratives in high demand, the character has matured. Looking to escape his past, Kratos travelled to the frozen wilds of the north where he assumed the life of a mortal man, believing himself far away from the treacherous machinations of the gods. However, as anyone with even the faintest knowledge of Norse mythology will tell you, he’s come to the wrong neighbourhood.

This life of seclusion comes to an end as his son, Atreus, starts to come of age and his mother passes away. Promising to honour her final wish, Kratos and the boy must scatter her ashes over the highest peaks of Midgard. It’s a task that quickly becomes a journey fraught with hardship and peril, not to mention a revelation or two.

Their relationship is complicated to say the least. It’s pretty clear that Kratos has been absent for most of his son’s life, and with good reason. He’s hardly a family man and no doubt fears what Atreus might become as his own godly powers begin to manifest. This distance between them is a recurring plot device, their father-son dynamic gradually developing as the story unfolds.

Atreus is a character that will divide players. Those fearing that this game has suddenly become one long escort mission can put them to rest, as he actually compliments Kratos’ abilities in combat. He has a small number of recharging arrows that he can shoot to distract enemies at your command, and he can learn a number of new abilities to interrupt enemy attacks, for example. How you view him will largely depend on how invested you become in the plot, the mysteries surrounding his progeny and the growing relationship between him and his father.

God of War opens a new chapter for the series, serving both existing fans and newcomers alike. You don’t need to have played any of the past games and it’s actually surprising how much of an effort Sony Santa Monica has made to cut off the events of the previous saga, keeping callbacks to a minimum. On one hand this makes perfect sense, allowing the team to focus on God of War’s deep dive into Norse mythology instead of dredging up the past. However, there are questions surrounding Kratos and certain events leading into the game that simply go unanswered.

Linearity is another thing God of War manages to shrug off with this latest instalment. While definitely not an open world game in the traditional sense, there are plenty of opportunities to explore and engage with some interesting side content. It can be closely compared to Rise of the Tomb Raider, giving players a big central space that branches into a number of smaller, more linear areas. If you’re poised purely on finishing the story, God of War should last around fifteen hours, though could easily stretch beyond thirty if you explore every nook and cranny.

Instead of being reworked, the old combat system has been uprooted in favour of something completely new. This has a lot to do with how the camera works in God of War, trading in the fixed angles of old for an over-the-shoulder view of the action as it unfolds, similar to most third person shooters. It’s actually presented as one single continuous camera shot, never cutting even during the most action packed cutscene. It’s an interesting approach and one that gives the player more control over Kratos, allowing them to feel much closer to the action than ever before.

On the whole, combat is far more varied and dynamic than it has been in previous games with even more room to experiment. Aside from being able to unleash devastating combos with the Leviathan Axe, you can also throw it, and then use your fists to pummel a nearby target before recalling the axe, dealing damage to any enemies in its path.

Outside of combat, you’ll spend your time exploring and solving puzzles. With no dedicated jump button or advanced movement mechanic, navigation is relegated to streamlined button presses, whether scaling a wall or leaping from ledge to ledge. Thankfully, Kratos can now sprint and even use fast travel, both of which are extremely useful when revisiting certain areas.

Like the aforementioned Rise of the Tomb Raider, God of War’s landscape is peppered with bonuses and collectibles, many of which are inaccessible when you first spot them. You’ll notice pathways blocked off by glowing tree sap and other strange obstacles that can only be cleared once you return with new powers. Alongside side quests, these give players a reason to loop back, often showering them with rare treasures.

God of War’s progression system also gets a total overhaul in 2018. Instead of red orbs, you’ll be spending experience points to unlock new attacks and abilities, with plenty of loot scattered throughout the game too. Kratos can be equipped with various pieces of armour, talismans, and runes which can also be crafted, each with their own stat bonuses and perks. It’s an RPG-like level of customisation God of War fans won’t be expecting, though one they’ll come to appreciate as they develop their play-style. The weapon runes are a particularly nice touch, adding powerful special attacks to your moveset that can be swapped out whenever you like.

The thing that shocked us most about God of War? The lack of a photo mode feature at launch, though it is promised for the future. There are plenty of contenders for best-looking game on the PlayStation 4 and, unsurprisingly, God of War is right up there at the top. Kratos’ character model is extremely well detailed, as are the places he and Atreus explore on their journey. Midgard is breathtakingly beautiful, mixing snowy whites and greys with luscious greens and deep blues. Beyond the mortal realm, there are places even more enchanting, the art team having really flexed their creativity.

It sounds just as brilliant too, mainly thanks to Bear McCreary’s phenomenal soundtrack. As for the voice acting, it’s decent but occasionally let down by poor writing. There’s a slightly more comical, playful tone to God of War than in previous games that takes some getting used to, as will hearing the voice of Christopher Judge as Kratos. There’s a notable difference between him and Terrence C. Carson, though he’s able to bring more dimensions to the character instead of the two usual presets: shouting and snarling.

What’s Good:

  • Drop dead gorgeous
  • Visceral, dynamic combat
  • Plenty to see and explore beyond the main quest
  • Enchanting Norse backdrop

What’s Bad:

  • Some fans will lament such a radical shift
  • Certain plot points could have been elaborated
  • Mimics popular design trends a little too closely
  • No photo mode at launch

A lot of what goes into God of War feels as though it was cherry-picked from the modern gaming zeitgeist. The semi-open world structure, loot system, and a much deeper narrative focus work well, but are all trends being pushed by most other big games. As a result, God of War can feel slightly homogenised in a way that some fans may find unappealing. Thankfully, a strong sense of setting and brutally satisfying combat help maintain that God of War identity. If it wasn’t made abundantly clear already, this is the first in what will most likely be a new trilogy for the God of War franchise, and this first instalment serves as a pretty great foundation.

Score: 8/10

Version Tested: PlayStation 4 Pro

20 Comments
  1. Avenger
    Member
    Since: Oct 2012

    Looks interesting, but I’m not seeing any of the all-out cock bashing combo making craziness that I’ve seen in previous games, unless that’s something Sony wants you to keep back in the video?

    Comment posted on 12/04/2018 at 08:50.
    • Stefan L
      Community Team
      Since: May 2009

      So, I’m not particularly good, which is one thing, but it’s also part of the progression to unlock new moves with each weapon. What’s in the video is only from the first few hours of the game, an yeah, the combat does develop and grow quite significantly… in ways that Sony doesn’t want us to spoil.

      Comment posted on 12/04/2018 at 09:05.
      • Avenger
        Member
        Since: Oct 2012

        Sounds exciting!

        Comment posted on 12/04/2018 at 11:55.
  2. leeroye
    Member
    Since: May 2012

    “Some fans will lament such a radical shift”

    Thats not really a bad point or fault in the game though its just some fans opinions.

    Comment posted on 12/04/2018 at 09:19.
    • Poetry and a Pint
      Member
      Since: Aug 2013

      Totally agree!

      Being a huge GOW fan, a shift sounds bloody good and can feel this 8 is not a fair reflection from day 1 fans.

      Only because this shift is essential for fans and the changes seen, far out weigh some previous attempts to refresh the series.

      …. As a 32 year old proper gamer…..im counting the days down on this little nugget like a child at xmas.

      Lets not forget red dead will be here soon too…and spyro….. this year is the year of some absolute sexyness on a disc. (Or download, if your weird and dont like a good box to show off!)

      Comment posted on 13/04/2018 at 17:27.
  3. MrYd
    Member
    Since: Mar 2011

    I’m still not convinced for some reason. A game being different to the previous games is fine, as is a game being more of the same if they got it right in the first place. This just seems like it’s different for very odd reasons.

    But it looks very nice. And I guess sounds good too, but then Bear McCreary was never going to do a bad soundtrack. (A man who can use all the drums one minute, a hurdy gurdy the next, and then a 15 foot electric guitar after that).

    And the whole father/son thing has always annoyed me. All your favourite TV programmes have that one episode that uses that, and they’re always poor episodes. Does the kid get into all sorts of perilous situations due to terrible parenting? Do they both learn something from each other by the end of the game? Does it feature anything even approaching an annoying escort mission? Will you get to a point where you want the kid to die, but that can’t happen because he’s indestructible, except for those bits where he’s made of glass and 1 hit will end the game?

    Comment posted on 12/04/2018 at 09:21.
  4. Tony Cawley
    Pint! Pint!
    Since: Feb 2009

    Sounds excellent, none of those negatives put me off at all.

    Looking forward to this.

    Comment posted on 12/04/2018 at 09:39.
  5. JR.
    Member
    Since: Apr 2013

    “Promising to honour her final wish, Kratos and the boy must scatter her ashes over the highest peaks of Midgard.”

    I don’t know why but this really made me laugh. He sure has mellowed with age. Just trying to imagine old Kratos doing this :D

    Still looking forward to it but some of the changes are disappointing. I preferred the days when games had their own identity.

    Comment posted on 12/04/2018 at 10:04.
    • Stefan L
      Community Team
      Since: May 2009

      Old Kratos would’ve added her ashes to his skincare routine.

      Comment posted on 12/04/2018 at 10:15.
      • JR.
        Member
        Since: Apr 2013

        True. I miss that guy :D

        Comment posted on 13/04/2018 at 02:17.
  6. TSBonyman
    Member
    Since: Dec 2009

    Oh dear, i wasn’t expecting comparisons with RotTR. Hopefully that’s not too apparent whilst playing as i’d prefer to forget about that experience. Overall it sounds good – i reckon the changes were necessary in order to revive the series – but i might hold off and wait for the photo mode so i can get more value.

    Comment posted on 12/04/2018 at 10:55.
    • double-o-dave
      Member
      Since: Nov 2008

      Snap! I downloaded RotTR, but I’ve only played about 4 or 5 hours & just deleted it. Running around the same area back & forth constantly trying to unlock/collect new things bored me to tears. I hope it’s not too similar.

      Comment posted on 12/04/2018 at 11:34.
  7. bunimomike
    Member
    Since: Jul 2009

    I always read a few reviews to gather some sort of consensus and I’m glad I did this time. Scoring 94% on Metacritic helps me make a choice as it’s a franchise I wouldn’t normally lean towards.

    Comment posted on 12/04/2018 at 12:23.
  8. aerobes
    Member
    Since: Aug 2009

    Haven’t ever completed a GoW game but the new direction this installment has taken has me interested, especially with the comparisons drawn to RotTR. I’ll wait and see what my wife thinks first.

    Comment posted on 12/04/2018 at 13:02.
    • kjkg
      Member
      Since: Apr 2010

      My (soon to be) wife is actually buying it for me on one condition. I am not allowed to play it when she is NOT there.

      She takes a small interest in some of my games if she liked the story. she hated No Man’s Sky, bloodborne and any type of racing games but loves GOW. She is probably more excited about it than I am.

      Comment posted on 12/04/2018 at 13:25.
  9. skibadee
    Member
    Since: Oct 2009

    this is scoring huge so many 10/10 reviews! cannot wait to play this have loved all the God Of War games.

    Comment posted on 12/04/2018 at 20:13.
  10. JR.
    Member
    Since: Apr 2013

    No jump button!?!?! First AC and now GoW. What’s the deal with modern games ditching the jump button? I just want to jump goddamnit. It’s not a dealbreaker but this is worse than the kid companion for me.

    Comment posted on 13/04/2018 at 02:14.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Latest Comments