Saturday, 11 August 2018

God Of War (2018) ★★★★★

The late, Roger Ebert once said: "Video games cannot be art". He was old, so I'll forgive him, but I  strongly disagree and shove God of War in his rotting face... 

God of War (2018) marks the seventh instalment, in the God of War series, - Not counting the crap mobile game - and sees the return of Cory Barlog, after a long hiatus, with God of War 2 being his last contribution to the series, eleven years ago. Which is like dog years within the gaming industry and culture, as a whole. Games have moved on, maturing in nature, with bigger, deeper and more meaningful stories to tell. Barlog has brought those eleven years to the table to create one of the most compelling and comprehensive video gaming experiences, to date.

In an attempt to lay low, Kratos has moved to the north and started a new, more peaceful, life for himself. The game jumps in with Kratos cremating his new wife and struggling with his new position as a single Father, obligated to raise his son. (Seriously, don't have kids with this dude. You always end up dead… Being the God of Death should probably be a big enough hint). Kratos deals with it the only macho way he knows how. "Let's go hunting, boy". Beginning their journey of killing their way up the Norse mythology food chain. Altreus, his son, acts as a catalyst to keep Kratos’ anger management issues grounded and to stop him going full on rage mode and simultaneously teaching Altreus essential survival skills, while Kratos rediscovers a level of empathy and forced bonding, with his boy. Kind of like Will Smith, in The Pursuit of Happiness, but with more Testosterone and a less annoying child.

Whilst the journey is presented as overwhelmingly massive, the path you take is actually pretty linear, but that doesn't make it any less epic, in scale. From the time Kratos first swings his axe, at a tree, all the way until the closing credits; there is never a loading screen. Everything is done ‘in camera’, from wandering the landscape to the monumental set pieces. The game is not so much an open world game but more about exploration. Rewarding you for wandering off the beaten track with rare items, more powerful upgrades and experience. The newer Tomb Raider’s are a close comparison, with their hub locations you’ll repeatedly return to before heading off into the next explorable area. Speaking of beaten tracks, this game boasts some of the most impressive sexy footprints and snow deformation. Uncharted 4's mud has a worthy rival. The God of War series has always been a staple of graphical detail and this entry does not disappoint. From unfathomably ginormous characters, like the World Serpent, to the tiny detailed way your armour flaps, as you run. Everything in this game is insanely impressive.

The mainstay for God of War is the combat, which stays as brutal and violent as ever. Feeling heavy and satisfying. Blood has been swapped to a pallet of varying colours, rather than the usual crimson red. Not really a complaint, just an observation. With the switch from his iconic War Blades, to a new shiny Battle Axe, Kratos has a whole new array of moves, at his disposal, with more to learn through the levelling system. The game has so many upgrade systems, the Skill Trees have Skill Trees. Kratos has seemingly forgotten a few things, too, like how to swim. Which could be seen as a plus, because that means there's no water temple. He has however picked up some rather dexterous rowing skills. My only gripe with the fighting is that it could use a few more finisher animations. Each enemy type only has the one, so as cool as they look, they soon start to get repetitive.

Any moment that I wasn’t playing the game, I was anticipating returning home, to continue the journey. It’s rare to find a game with a story so engaging and competent; but thankfully they’re becoming more common, with games like God of War and The Last of Us, showing what the medium is capable of. Times are good. “Do not allow yourself to feel for them. They will not feel for you.” - Kratos

Bry Wyatt

God Of War at CeX

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