By Sam Coles:
We return to another instalment of how the gaming industry annoys Sam with naming conventions, I already have a game called God of War it’s on the best console conceived by man, the PlayStation 2! Anyway God of War, no not that one the “soft reboot” for the PS4 as it acknowledges God of War 3 but tries to take the series in a new direction. Back in 2016 when the game was announced at E3, I was very unsure about the new direction of the series, as I thought it took away its unique nature. However now I have played God of War, I can safely say it is a fantastic experience (for the most part), and is one of the main reasons to own a PS4.
God of War sees Kratos hiding out in the Nine Realms in Nordic mythology, after his rampage in Ancient Greece in God of War 3. He is once again a father, but this time to his son Atreus where he is struggling to bond with him. Kratos has to scatter his wife’s ashes from the highest point in the Nine Realms; he uses this opportunity to test Atreus’ strength. What transpires is a tale of Kratos struggling with fatherhood, but eventually you see their relationship blossom where Kratos eventually tells him of his dark past and his routes as a God. The story is well told and the voice acting is superb, it had me hooked from beginning to end to see Kratos become a loving father is very touching.
Now we get into the gameplay and combat, and for the most part I found it enjoyable. When I first saw the new camera angle back in 2016 I was worried about the pace of the combat, but now I have played it is just as fast as the older games and requires skill to survive these endeavours. As I said it requires skill as button mashing will result getting yourself killed, you have to be aware of your surroundings as enemies will have windups and cooldowns which you have to dodge and counter.
Kratos starts off with an axe which fits the Nordic theme where he then gains his signature Blades of Chaos later on in the story. What I like about having both the axe and Blades of Chaos, is that it encourages you to experiment where in some situations you have to use certain weapons as other means of attacks won’t work on colour coded enemies.
The game does sprinkle in RPG elements coupled with an open ended world to explore, it’s not an open world per say but you can go back to areas after you are done with them and find armour and weapon upgrades. As you progress through the story you can upgrade your axe, Blades of Chaos and Atreus’ bow, these will be simple things such as stronger damage output etc. However you can equip runes that will do special attacks, my favourite is an area of effect attack with the axe that freezes everyone in the near vicinity.
You can also deck Kratos and Atreus out in armour, these can have effects on your vitality and your defence. However it does have effects on cooldowns with your special attacks, which is showcased in the stats. This can be a double edge sword with this aspect because you would think a higher level piece of amour may be better, but it could have lower vitality or lower cooldown time, it’s this balance that adds another layer of depth to the combat and customisation.
Now I can hear you asking “Sam what’s wrong with the combat”? Well it’s the small things such as the somewhat questionable hit detection, there were moments where I thought that I had dodged an attack where an enemy would home in onto my position, stick a spear up my backside and repurpose me as a windscreen wiper. This resulted in some frustrating deaths, but fortunately it didn’t happen too often. Another issue were the specific enemy types where they were A. really annoying and B. they used them too often as boss fights.
Let’s start off with the annoying enemies the Dark Elves, these are extremely irritating to fight they dart all over the place where you can barely land a hit and hold back shooting projectiles at you. It really killed the pace for me as all I did was exploit it a bit by constantly throwing my axe. Another aspect that got a bit old by the end of the game were the troll boss fights. Yes they were thrilling at first, but it is going to take more than a different shade of orange to change the fact you are fighting the same enemy with the same execution animation every time you beat one.
What can I say about the presentation that hasn’t been said already, this is one of the best games I seen from Sony this generation. The environments are gorgeous and varied, from the frost laden forest where Kratos’ cabin resides to the beautiful and colourful garden where the witch Freya calls home. The graphics almost had me in tears of joy with how beautiful they are, if there wasn’t already an example of video games being art this would be it. The only really issues that stem from the presentation was the framerate, it would dip here and there but then again I’m playing on a PlayStation 4 that I got in 2014.
God of War was a surprise for me, yes the combat has its issues, but the weighty and satisfying nature of it when you deliver each blow slowly quashed my issues. If you have a PS4 and haven’t played this I highly recommend it, what Santa Monica Studios have craft is truly a beautiful piece of art.