Review – God of War (PS4)
God of War, thunderously, has pushed itself into the center of the spotlight with its release at the end of last week. Not only will this game be recognized as one of the greatest of all time, I think it will bring with it a change in the way developers approach their work from now on. Not too long ago, it was said that the linear single-player game was dead. With Kratos’ return to console, I think that statement has been proven to be monumentally false. Let’s dive into the review of God of War, and at the same time, analyze what makes a game perfect.
There is a reason the game asks if you just want the story during ‘difficulty’ selection. That reason is cemented in the presentation of what I can only consider a narrative masterpiece. A single, important reason the story is so powerful is because it is relatable. God of War takes the common theme of raising a child to be better than ourselves and brings it into a new light.
Novels such as Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and games like The Last of Us from developer Naughty Dog are shining examples. Examples where this theme has worked successfully in different approaches. However, it was tired and needed a fresh new take. That’s where the godhood comes in. Couple this struggle with the attempt to control and respect the power you possess, and it makes for an interesting story. God of War is a narrative that keeps you addicted from start to finish. Even when the option to explore and complete side quests was available, I only wanted more story. It successfully teaches, entertains, and inspires the player.
With the option to run at an awe-inspiring 4k, there is never a shortage of things to look at. The places you travel are wholly different, and you never get tired of looking at a single color palette. A big thing for me was the balance of visual approach. Some levels feel tight, like when you are surrounded by trees or running through ancient corridors. Then, the area opens up to this gorgeous vista of mountains, snow, and woodlands. You feel as if the virtual world you travel in is just alive as you are.
The games ran smoothly for me, stable at 30fps, and rarely did I ever experience frame-rate drops. FPS drops I did experience were after resuming the game from rest mode. The drops did not impact gameplay, as I would simply pause and wait for the game to catch up to itself.
A great game like God of War offers players an experience that is just as breathtaking the second time around. Also, it brings to life the creative visions of caring designers in their most passionate form. No shortcuts were taken with the design of the game, not for time, not for money. God of War was displayed exactly as it deserved. Not only is that great for the experience, but important for the player as well.
I swear, seldom has a repeatable action in a video game not become dry after hundreds of uses. The ability to throw the Leviathan Axe, watch it fall down a mountainside, then hear it clink and clank as it flies back up the mountain to my hand is so satisfying. This process never grew old for me, and the added benefit of it tripping enemies as it returns, or exploding when it hits them, is just icing on the cake.
God of War delivers any kind of action you could possibly want from an action adventure game. Ranged combat through the Talon Bow, melee through the Axe (and other weapons) or even magic, through the use of rune stones. The abilities are sometimes necessary to solve puzzles, but you never find yourself traveling back through completed areas to find something you missed. God of War does a great job of making sure you are ready to take on whatever is coming your way. Kratos and Atreus can change their armor, and play styles through upgrades and customization to suit your preferred approach. The combos are smooth, devastating if done right. There are enough differences in enemy AI to make each encounter feel unique. I never left a fight feeling like it didn’t belong, and I only ever wanted more.
God of War is perfection. After all the hours I spent with the story, I am dying for more. I never want my time with Kratos and Atreus to end, because it has instructed, entertained, and inspired me. It was never a drag to play, there was always something awe-inspiring to see. New places to explore, always just over the horizon. God of War will be our reminder of the power a great single-player game can possess. If anyone dares challenge the mantle that Santa Monica Studio now holds, there will surely be a reckoning. One that will surely bring cause for all players to rejoice.
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