GOD OF WAR:
Rating: 10/10 | Price: 3,999 | Developer: Santa Monica Studio | Publisher: Sony Entertainment | Platform: Playstation 4
The latest God of War is an emotional restart in the right direction
Kratos, the hero of God of War, should really think of writing a book on parenting. No, we are not referring to the Kratos in his younger days, from the first bunch of games on last gen consoles. We are referring to the new, older Kratos, from the latest iteration of God of War. Sporting the latest in badass lumberjack beards and a dad bod only a man who killed most of the Greek gods can cultivate. The life lessons that he imparts throughout the game to his son Atreus is parenting at its finest. Making me want to send my kids to Kratos’s home school of hard knocks.
Now, we got our hands on the latest God of War almost 20 days before its release, to experience everything this game has to offer. What struck me the most about the new Kratos is how real the weight of his past deeds reflects in his eyes. As he looks deep into the fires of his deceased second wife’s cremation ceremony, the flames flickering into those eyes that mirror the anger and rage with which he dismembered and disembowelled majority of the Greek Pantheon of gods. His wife had one last wish, and that was to take her ashes and scatter them off the highest peak in Midgard, the Norse plane – where Kratos seemed to have lived a comfortable and simple life, with his wife and son Atreus, who’s the second hero of this tale.
The relationship between father and son at the start of the journey are strained, with Kratos understandably estranged, barking orders to Atreus who’s a bright, studious child with a mean streak and handy with a bow and arrow. What starts off as a grating mismatch of cringe turns into a beautiful symbiotic relationship between father and son as Atreus. There are so many moments that kickstart your paternal or maternal instincts as you genuinely feel for Atreus, and don’t want him to get harmed. The emotion is so well communicated and in between action sequences there are long silent sequences that are so basic in their beauty yet powerful storytelling devices that sets God of War apart from everything out there. The story itself is straightforward, get to the end of this race, fulfill the promise, obliterating anything in your way.
While the Kratos and Atreus dynamic is excellent, it’s a talking head that takes the cake here. Mimir, the Norse god of knowledge, is a severed head that lives on Kratos’ belt chipping in with the funniest versions of Norse myths. From Odin’s scheming to everyone’s favourite hero god Thor being a complete douchebag to the rest of the Aseir. He’s like the Page 3 gossip rag of the Norse plane. Yet his stories, jokes and general attitude seems to add that perfect balance to the trio. Throw in a germaphone dwarf and massive sea serpent and you have the makings of a literary classic in game form.
God of War has always been about the action and this sort of reboot changes up the classic style for a more nailed down, Dark Souls inspired combat. There’s no jumping involved, instead you lock on to the enemy and let fly. The new axe, Kratos’s new weapon of choice, is polar opposite to the fiery blades of chaos that he was a slave to. With emphasis on polar, as the axe freezes whatever it touches and when thrown it can be called back, striking anything in its way. Along with your moves, you can ask Atreus to fire arrows in support with just the tap of the button. This new combat is extremely satisfying because there is a power to it. The axe hits with a force you can feel to your bone, and if Kratos is unarmed, he can pack quite the wallop, using a shield and his fists to deliver some damage.
As a result, you can get some very organic, spectacular combos. Slam shield, a few swipes of the axe, throw it at distant enemy and finish off the enemy in front of you with a devastating punt kick. One swift uppercut of your weapon sends enemies into the air, where you can keep juggling them with the help of Atreus until they become mashed draugr parts. You can upgrade your weapons to unlock new moves, for both Atreus and you. God of War here treads into role playing game territory with levelling up weapons, armour and moves. There’s a lot of loot to be had in the game, and it’s fantastic, making you want to scour the Norse planes for more weapons and runes to slot in your armour.
Once you reach a point in the game, all of Midgard and its surrounding planes open to you for exploring. Where you can go anywhere in this desolate world, get sidequests from whatever crazy people or spirits you encounter. You can also go out and fight with several mythical creatures from soul eaters to these wicked armoured soldiers with massive swords to earn more XP and bring home more loot. Though most of the time I found myself floating on the lake just taking in the scenery like a trip to a colder Goa, complete with hippies from a far of cold north, except here they are called undead Draugr.
God of War is the best looking game on earth right now. Not “one of the best looking”, I mean “the” best looking game. Putting most PC games out there, running on expensive graphic cards to shame. Sure it made my Playstation Pro scream like a jet engine, so much so I could actually dry my hair under its blast. Yet the game looked absolutely gorgeous. Without ruining anything what struck me the most was the sheer sense of scale, as you watch mythical creatures the size of Dubai skyscrapers tower above you. With Kratos and Atreus standing tall and looking them in the eye. The scale of those setpieces and the fluidity of the camera that makes the game look like it was captured in one long take, just makes the game even more perfect.
It’s barely April and looking at the rest of the release schedule for the rest of the year, everything pales in comparison to God of War. Definitely a winner for the game of the year 2018, with its matured storyline, excellent characters and superb action, this is a game that you cannot miss. So stop procrastinating, go get yourself a Playstation 4, perhaps a PS4 Pro, get that Mi TV4 with HDR and sit back and enjoy this game at its finest, 4K HDR. It’ll be worth the investment.