Name: God of War
Developer: Santa Monica Studio
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Platforms: PlayStation 4
Reviewed on: PlayStation 4 Pro
Acquired: A copy of this game was provided from publisher for review purpose
I recommend reading this review of God of War while listening to it’s soundtrack, Bear McCreary has done an incredible job to set you in the right mood.
There’s always a bit of a risk by reimaging a video game icon and genre that we’re used to, and this is something Santa Monica has done with God of War. Not only have they changed the mythology to Norse, but they also changed the whole setting / mood to much darker feeling and a whole new combat system as well. If I only had one word to describe this game, I would say; Boy!
The story itself isn’t revolutionary, but it is well written and excellent performed by the voice actors. Kratos is now in a much darker tale than what we are used to in God of War, his wife is dead and her last wish is that Kratos and their son Atreus carry her ashes to the highest mountain peak in all the realms and spread her ashes there.
What Santa Monica Studios does very well is the introduction of the Norse mythology, and not least everything we can learn about this. Everything from the lives of the Æsirs, Giants and the Alves is only a few of the things we get a well-detailed story in. Another thing they have done very well is the choice of the voice actor for Kratos. Christopher Judge (most famous from Stargate TV Series) does an incredibly good job of producing Kratos as a slightly older and wise, but still very masculine man.
Even though the story is performed linearly, the whole story and, not least, the whole game feels like a more open game than it really is. Everything depends on what you choose to do. The main story of God of War may seem a bit slow at times but believe me when I say this, the journey is worth it!
The graphics of God of War clearly show what game developers can offer if they really want to showcase their skills, ranging from character design, environmental, textures and lighting are amazingly made to the very last detail. Midgard is displayed on a very well balanced feeling between greatness to the smaller details.
Now there are not many games that showcases Norse mythology, but one of them is last year’s Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. Hellblade itself is well-designed and shows good Norse mythology also, but it can not be compared to God of War at all. God of War is of a completely different scale, where they, among other things, use role-playing elements.
Character design on enemies like the draugr, trolls and witches are incredibly well made and detailed, and not least, they give an incredibly good sense of killing them, and then I mean everything we see from animations to modeling / sculpting the objects.
I’m still fascinated of the new weapon of Kratos, the axe. As you move on in the game and upgrade the axe, it just gets more and more shiny and pretty and I only want to grab it and lubricate it in a certain place. (Yes, it is that satisfying to look at)
What I think is very unique in God of War is the way Santa Monica has managed to switch between being a linear game to a more open one. This is by choosing from among various assignments one can do in Midgard. Everything from story to side missions (setting free dragons, killing Valkyries or doing favours for the dwarves is just some of it) determines whether the game feels open or “closed”.
What you need to prepare for is the number of hours that will be added to this game. That the role-play element has been added here says something about what to expect, just by having to build up your character with everything from skills, weapons and armor. The progression is fast, but in return there are many different ways to upgrade your weapons and armors. Procurement of materials, finding hidden chests etc. is necessary to get the best equipment of course.
But again, the role playing element has been introduced greatly helps in the feel of the new combat systems that have been added. Just like Assassin’s Creed: Origins, the fast hack & slash system is replaced with more tactical combo based systems. (R1 Light attack, R2 heavy attack, X to dodge etc). This is very positive now that Kratos feels more “heavy” to control than before, a quick control system also helps but we will return to this under the control section. So we can really say that Kratos is heavy in the right way.
Another thing that you may not think about at all when playing is the AI. The AI in God of War is extremely good in my opinion, and then I do not think how enemies attack you etc., but that Atreus is not in your way! One problem many other games have is that your friends who really are there to help you, are more in the way then helping you, this is not the case in God of War. Atreus is very helpful here, I cannot say more about it without having to spoil anything.
Santa Monica has succeeded in creating a world that values a complex story with the freedom of role playing elements that many have become accustomed to lately.
God of War has a fast response time on the controls, regardless of whether I chose to play with performance as a favor or resolution, I didn’t notice a difference in the response time (Of course I noticed the difference between 30fps and 60fps). This fit excellent with Kratos’ many different combos / special attacks, they were not hard to learn when looking at it from the control schematic. Mastering, on the other hand, is a completely different matter, which gives a good dose of challenges in this game.
The replay value in God of War is not very high, of course you can play through the story once more at a higher level of difficulty (Believe me, the “easiest” was still challenging), but there are some things you can do when you’ve played through the story. You may have had the taste of the beautiful platinum trophy God of War can offer, and you must, among other things, hunt for Odin’s ravens, kill valkyries, set free dragons to achieve this. There are lots of little things you can do, but in full, God of War is a game you play for the sake of the experience.
Replay Value 9
Santa Monica Studios has created an amazing Norse mythology universe in God of War and proves that greatness has arrived on the PlayStation 4. The main story itself is a bit skinny but is well written and well performed by voice actors. In return, we get lots of stories and details about the Norse mythology and their beings and gods. Without spoiling too much, the end of the main story was not as big as I hoped for, but do not think there are other great and interesting things around Midgard. (For example – Visit your home when you finish the main story)
User Review( votes)
- Amazing graphics
- Lots of different gameplay
- Satisfying combat system
- Good father/son tale
- The Axe
- Soundtrack / Music
- A good introduction to Norse Mythology
- Ending could have been better
- A few frame drops during the switch between cutscene and gameplay
- The pace of progression might not be for everyone