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God Among Games: A Review of “God of War”

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God Among Games: A Review of “God of War”

Wesley Henshaw, Staff Writer

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After years of production, “God of War”, also known as “God of War 4″ and “God of War PS4″, exploded onto the Playstation this April. Ever since its initial announcement, fans have been hyped for “God of War’s” fresh take on the vengeful “Ghost of Sparta,” Kratos. It is with great pleasure I say that the new game has successfully lived up to the hype. Long term fans of the franchise will love Kratos’ new grizzled and subdued persona that’s not without the embers of total rage that blazed so brightly in the prior games. The game changes enough to feel fresh and new, but keeps what made the past games so iconic and enjoyable. Before beginning, do not fear, I will not be spoiling anything for those looking to enjoy the game for themselves. So let’s begin.

Story

First off, the story. A lot of video games nowadays pride themselves on their in depth and beautiful stories. However, if you want a good story, why not go to the movies or read a book? In order for a video game story to be good, it has to be something you don’t just watch, but experience. “God of War” masters this field. You begin the game as an older and more grizzled Kratos, as evident by the beard. It has apparently been many years since the events of the last game, as Kratos no longer finds himself conquering the gods of Greece, but rather in quiet exile far north in the land of Norse mythology. With his son, Atreus, Kratos sets off on an adventure across beautiful landscapes to spread the ashes of his recently deceased wife from the tallest mountain in all of the nine realms.

The first thing one can expect from a “God of War” game is great use of mythology. The shift from the epic Greek mythology to the more harsh Norse mythology meshes perfectly with Kratos’ new persona, and their interpretations of deities and creatures are breathtaking to behold and enchanting to listen to. Along your journey, you will find yourself traveling by boat often, where there will be long silences. To fill this, the game developers did something quite ingenious and decided to fill the boat rides with Norse lore from one character you meet later in the game. This character is perhaps one of the best character, retelling vaguely familiar stories with wit, charm, and excellent storytelling ability. The simple addition made me take longer routes just to let the character finish his story. In addition to Norse lore, early on you get to here famous fables like “The Tortoise and the Hare” told by the overly simple and direct Kratos, who butchers the stories for his young son, which made for very entertaining banter.

Aside from the mythology, another important arc is Kratos’ personal story, where he struggles with the sins of his past as he desperately tries to hide his past from his son. Kratos despises the gods, constantly telling his son not to trust them. An understandable point of view from someone who has suffered at the gods’ hands multiple times. However, this adds an interesting dynamic as Kratos himself is a god, and by extension his son, Atreus, is too. This adds to Kratos’ inner turmoil and makes him a much more vulnerable and human character, far more so than in the prior games.

Performance

Overall, the game looks great. I had the pleasure of playing on a PS4 pro and the graphics were befitting of the gods the game introduces. Keeping with the previous games’ colossal theme, “God of War” takes every opportunity to take your breath away. The first time you meet The World Serpent, a snake so giant it encircles the world and bites its own tail, you’d swear you’ve seen the best, but it keeps getting better. Beautiful scenery and striking Norse figures adorn the game like gems on an already golden crown.

The game handles its amazing sights extraordinarily well. Through my many hours of gaming, I encountered little to no problems. The extent of the problems were a small animation glitch that went away two seconds after I noticed it. That leads me to the animations. In accordance with the great graphics, Kratos has never moved so smoothly. Every chest he opens, every finishing move, every transition from cut-scene to gameplay, is seamless, making the combat that is so integral to the game feel fluid and fun.

Fun

This game was a blast to play. Rather than the fixed camera combat of the prior games, the developers moved in the camera to Kratos’ shoulder. This immediately increases the intimacy of the action, making you feel like you’re actually taking down colossal trolls yourself. The combat is much more controlled, forcing you to actually think of what button your pressing. The ruthless button mashing of the prior games are gone now, posing Kratos as a seasoned warrior rather than a raging cyclone which actually increases the satisfaction of the game.

Those familiar with “God of War” know of the previous games much more brutal style. Rife with bloody violence, over the top executions, and other more adult themes, it won over many fans simply because of the god-level brutality. For those fans, this game might actually disappoint. The violence, while still present, is nowhere near that level. The game favors a more rough-around-the edges, survival feel. Kratos actually lectures his son on the difference between fighting for survival and fighting out of anger, criticizing him for the latter. In my opinion, I think the reduction of the brutality is an understandable artistic decision that actually works out fairly well.

One newer addition to the game was quite surprising, and that was the inclusion of RPG elements. Kratos now has many different sets of armor, a series of stats such as strength and defense, and upgrade-able skills and weapons. While I did enjoy mixing and matching skills and attacks, and upgrading my weapons gave me some serious satisfaction, I felt that the armor system was a bit too much. It wasn’t too much of a problem, but it seemed like the game wasn’t sure if it wanted armor to be very important, or not matter at all. The stats seemed worryingly important, but ultimately I didn’t really feel any need to focus my stats anywhere. For some people this may actually improve the game, as some people (including me to a degree) prefer simplicity in gaming. However, if it’s in the game, I’d like it to feel like an actual part of the game. But despite what I said, it is a minor complaint overall, becoming drowned out by a great combat system, effortless melding of game and story, and satisfying progression.

Overall

All-in-all, “God of War” is an utter delight. With a tone much more subdued than its predecessors, it manages to combine platinum storytelling with an overall fun and satisfying game experience. It was truly beautiful to see Kratos fill the role of father figure, regaining a sense of his humanity as he and his son witness the beautiful sights of Norse mythology. Overall, I would gladly replay this game in a heartbeat, and I highly recommend picking up this game when you can.

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God Among Games: A Review of “God of War”