PlayStation owners have been a little spoiled this generation with some great games. We’ve had Uncharted 4, Persona 5 and Horizon Zero Dawn to name a few outstanding exclusive titles. But we recently got one more from Santa Monica Studios and it could well be the best of all of them. That’s why it’s such a pleasure to being you my God of War 2018 review at last.
While it’s been said already how much this new God of War title is a masterpiece… I’m going to be bringing you my take on it here on MGL. After playing through the game, and enjoying the amazing statue with the Collector’s Edition, I have a full review and video review for you to enjoy.
As a fan of the series, I was both happy to see Kratos back, but also a little concerned at all the changes to the games style before I started to play. Would it work with his son? With the new combat? All things the game made me feel stupid for questioning in the end.
This is an exceptional game, one that honours the original games and takes the series and action-adventure games to new heights.
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When you think of God of War, you really do associate the game with action. Swarms of enemies and those iconic Blades of Chaos/Athena slicing them up. Then there are the larger than life boss fights the series was loved for.
What should not be forgotten in all that action, were the moments of puzzle solving and obstacles to overcome. Not to mention the incredible story moments and some huge revelations involving both Kratos and the Gods of Olympus.
The God of War adaptation for PS4 remains sympathetic to all these different elements of the series. While, at the same time, modernising all of it to feel fresh and engaging.
I went into my playthrough with some concern over a few gameplay choices however. The combat for one was a worry as I’m not a big Souls-style person. But, as soon as I began my journey, it was clear Cory Barlog and the team at Santa Monica had got it just right.
A New Iconic Weapon
The Leviathan Axe is so unbelievably good to smash things with I can’t actually put it into words. Watching it is no good either, you really need to experience using it first hand.
Unleashing some brutal combos and then throwing it into a distant enemy feels so satisfying. Then to call it back and take out some Draugr or Wolves as it flies back into your hand never gets old.
Everything about it feels just right for a more mature Kratos to yield in this world. You have to be more tactical and watch for enemies moving to strike too. Deciding on what is better, Axe of fists, or even a combination. It’s more about thought and planned action than just hitting things as much as you can this time.
The quick dodge and shield defence on your arm are just as important as your weapon this time around. Even on the easier modes of play, you won’t get far without timing your attacks, dodges and parries.
All of them, including some additional weaponry later in the game, are spot on and create one of the best combat experiences in gaming to date.
A New Type of Boss Fight
The new camera angle (more on this exceptional piece of work later) really amplifies the intensity of battles in God of War Particularly in the boss fights.
This ranges from giant trolls to dragons and human sized Gods. All of which flow perfectly and leave you feeling very satisfied when you win. But there were a few times I won the fight, and was ready to go at it again it was so good!
A confrontation early in the game with The Stranger if one of the best boss fights I have ever experienced. It’s perfect to set the tone for the title as you begin Kratos and Atreus’ journey. Later in the game there are some equally impressive confrontations with other Norse gods and creatures.
Atreus/Boy plays more than a supporting role in the combat too. He handles himself very adeptly and can be called in to hit enemies with his arrows to stun them. Getting in with Kratos’ fists helps charge this to leave you opponent open for some brutal finishers.
Combat wise, I simply love the game. And for those seeking to just enjoy the game, it’s very accessible. For those wanting a challenge well, top difficulty is totally brutal.
A New Land
Now in Midgard rather than Greece, Kratos is trying to live as a man rather than an angry God. Now he must act as an adventurer and mentor his son following the death of his wife and Atreus’ mother.
Getting around in this Norse world involves some climbing, problem solving and canoeing around a massive lake. The lands you visit range from icy cold to heat and fire with lush green scenery in-between. Most of which you end up destroying in some way as you smash and break things along your journey.
He is still Kratos after all!
Some of the puzzles really make you think to get passed them. A lot of the time you have to use your axe, and it’s freezing power wisely. Throwing it will hit and stick what you aim for (if it’s close enough), it will then freeze the object in place. Meaning if you move something and need to hold it, you slam your axe into it and freeze it in place. Calling the back releases it when the time is right.
Many also involve support from Atreus too as he climbs up and let’s down chains. Or you need to use some classic God of War timing to avoid giant saws or compressing walls with spikes.
This all balances nicely with the combat so nothing ever gets too frequent to see the game become overly repetitive.
A New Set of Skills
Collecting items is no longer based on classic orbs from chests, although the chests do remain. Instead you can pick up resources and gear in the modern tradition of Common, Rare, Legendary and Epic. All of which come with different boosts to your stats.
Gear can also be crafted and/or upgraded with the help of two Dwarfs Brokkr and Eitri and your resources you find and XP you gain.
A really neat skill tree is also in play for Kratos’ attributes and Atreus too. These upgrade the Axe your shield, Atreus’ bow and more with new abilities. First, you must find key pieces of kit to upgrade them to unlock your higher level options. But when you do it makes you far stronger, plus the Leviathan Axe visually improves too as you progress which is a nice touch.
All this progresses at just the right pace to keep things interesting and slightly addictive too.
A New Standard
God of War not only squashed every concern I had about the gameplay. It actually made me like a stupid “boy” for even worrying about them in the first place.
Combat, problem solving and just experiencing the world are amazing. My only criticism would be that you must move the camera when you climb to get to the ledges etc. a little too often.
That is literally it. This is a wonderful game to play and one that you will find keeps you coming back even after the end of the story.
Presentation and Graphics
The moment you start the game and enter the menu, Kratos and his Leviathan Axe in the background. As you begin, the menu fades and you immediately merge with this scene, and are in control.
This moment encapsulates the best way to describe God of Wars presentation: seamless and immersive.
All of which is achieved by one of the best decisions the development team could have made, the one shot camera. It’s genius.
It’s oddly simple in one way, the camera stays with you at all times. It never cuts and never fades away to load something (unless you die). It just stays with you and moves closer or further appropriately during story sequences.
It’s one of the most impactful ways I’ve ever seen a game delivered. This was mentioned in the build-up to the game’s release, but I did not consider how much difference it would make.
Having experienced it now, I understand just how it connects you to Kratos and Atreus’ story.
Speaking of those two, the acting here is superb. So much there is a special MGL Voice Artist Spotlight article. But both Chris Judge and Sunny Suljic are excellent as the protagonists of the story. But equally the supporting cast members put on great performances too.
As for the graphics and sound it’s just immaculate. The characters, environments and the detail of everything is superb. Even as a 1080p lowlife, I could appreciate the beauty of this amazing game. Plus, everything is brought together with a stunning soundtrack.
At the heart of everything is an emotional story. One that deals with both the loss of a loved one and a relationship between Kratos and his son. A son that is very distant given Atreus knows very little of his father, and hardly saw him before his mother passed away.
This leads you to your journey, one that involves scattering their dead wife/mothers ashes on the highest peak in all the realms. You head towards the giant mountain and all the danger along the way.
Most of this journey, Kratos refers to Atreus as “Boy” and remains rather cold and blunt. It’s lead to more than a few hilarious memes and moments in the game too. But the relationship really does work, especially with that camera in play keeping you attached to them.
Their relationship does get better though, and they really do have some interesting moments along their journey. Some of them will make you smile. Others can be genuinely uncomfortable to listen to when things are going badly. Especially when Kratos and Atreus’ relationship becomes strained for a time.
But the fact the game makes you feel all these things really is a testament to the writing and acting involved in God of War.
That camera again
During your journey the camera never leaves you, this means you also know very little of the story but for what you see of it. Unlike most games where everything is explained and you, usually, know more than the main characters. Here, you only know what Kratos and Atreus are aware of.
This leads to some seemingly small moments that happen around you; little phrases or actions by supporting cast members. Things that at the time that seem innocuous, but they soon unravel into something much more significant as the plot plays out.
It really is an amazing way to tell a story, one that twists and turns you along the way. It also manages to leave you both very satisfied at the end but with further questions to be answered as well.
On the other side of this perspective, you don’t actually see the main antagonists too much through the adventure. In order to know what they are doing they are either engaged with you or you are close enough to hear them. This means a few times you overhear conversations in the distance or as you climb around them. It means that the encounters you do have have to be impactful.
For me, I actually think the lack of seeing what was going on and being spoon fed information benefited the villain. It helped that every confrontation was pretty epic too. Less was certainly more in this case.
Exploring the realms
You also find yourself exploring a lot of the world with the Lake of the Nine connecting everything together. Here you can explore Midgard and take on side quests. You can also use the Bifrost to visit other realms. Some are part of the story; others bring you a significant challenge to take on when you are ready.
God of War becomes a mixture of both a traditional linear story, with open world elements to enjoy too. Similar to how Tomb Raider works, with a kind-of fast travel option opening up later in the game. Plus, there are many other challenges to take on as you explore. The Valkyries for instance, are not something you want to mess with until you have got to very high levels of skill and equipment.
In terms of time, the story missions will take you around 15 hours or so, depending on your level of difficulty. I don’t see most gamers doing them without some distraction, the game actively encourages you to explore the world as you play. I easily put in double that time and still have things to do to get to 100% completion.
Should You Play God of War 2018?
Yes, absolutely you should play God of War 2018. This is one incredible game and it not only hits the heights in the action-adventure genre, I genuinely believe it’s one of those games every gamer should play.
Where last generation we had The Last of Us that moved the action-adventure genre onwards. This generation so far Rise of the Tomb Raider, Uncharted 4 and Horizon Zero Dawn have all come really close to taking its place.
God of War is the one to do it at last.
It’s set the standard in action-adventure gaming and is one that all gamers need to experience. If you have a PS4, pick this up as soon as you can afford to. Don’t have one? Get saving, this is 100% a console seller.
|The Good||The Bad||The Bugs|
|So much to do and enjoy|
|Appeals to a wide audience|