GOD OF WAR
By Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams on April 17, 2018
Last Friday, something mighty important was delivered at our DumeeGamer HQ... with the emphasis on "Mighty"! For it was on that faithful day that our friends at Sony sent us a copy of a game that is the absolute number one on my wish list. We've had to wait for five years to see if and how the story of one of the most awesome protagonists out there would continue... Yes, ladies and gentlemen; Kratos is back!
And how! I'll come right out and say it; the new God of War is absolutely awesome!!! The game, being the eight installment in the God of War series, takes everything I loved about previous God of War games and even manages to take it to a whole new level. I have to admit, when I first saw the trailer for God of War, I was a bit apprehensive. Sure, it looked really, really cool, but the developers at Santa Monica Studio chose to change the good old semi-fixed camera viewpoint to an over-the-shoulder third person perspective. Would the action still be as kick-ass as it was, or would this new perspective inhibit me in my usually fluid hacking and slashing fun?
Rest assured, dear readers; God of War is every bit as hack-and-slash-minded as its predecessors, but with quite a lot more depth to it than ever before. The story, as always, is very well written and really captures the essence of what God of War is all about. And yet, this time around the developers managed to put quite a lot more emotion into Kratos' story. As we start the game, we catch Kratos on what can only be called a sad day. His wife has just died. Wait! His wife died in the very first game, didn't she? Well, yes; this is his second wife we're talking about.
After his adventures in Greece, Kratos decided it was time to hang up his guns or, as is the case here, his Blades. He travelled all the way to Scandinavia and tried to put together the pieces of the life he led before the gods started mingling in his affairs. Living like a man instead of a god, he got a second chance at being a father when he met a woman, with whom he had a son by the name of Atreus. Now, years, his wife has passed away and Kratos is left to care for the boy himself.
When cremating the body of his wife, Kratos is confronted by a strange man, who taunts Kratos into fighting him. After defeating the stranger, Kratos and Atreus set out to scatter the ashes of their respective wife and mother. To do this, they must travel to the highest peak in the realms, as per the woman's dying wish. Kratos, however, doesn't feel his son is ready for such a perilous journey and means to test the boy before leaving on this quest.
Atreus, having the same over-confident air that every teenage boy ever seems to have, is eager to prove his father wrong. So, Kratos takes up his mighty Leviathan Axe and Atreus takes his Talon Bow and together they set out to fulfill their Kratos' wife's dying wish. After a short hunting trip, which serves as a test for Atreus, Kratos grudgingly agrees to take his son with him to the summit of a nearby mountain and sets out on a journey that will hold more than one surprise, numerous dangers and hordes of enemies, true to the legacy of the God of War series. And, as a bonus, God of War features more side missions and collectibles than you can (very violently) shake a stick at.
The most distinct new feature, besides Kratos' epic beard, is his new weapon: The Leviathan Axe. I have to admit, I didn't think anything the developers could come up with could even hold a candle to the Chaos Blades, but I am glad to admit that I was totally and utterly wrong! The Leviathan Axe, being Kratos' only weapon as you start the game, is a really powerful blade that can be swung around or even thrown at enemies. And it can even be recalled after you throw it, so you don't have to run after it. Instead, just press the appropriate button and the Leviathan Axe comes flying back to your hand! How's that for convenience? I wish my car keys could do that!
Speaking of pressing buttons; when I started playing this latest installment in the God of War series, I was slightly thrown off by the fact that my basic attack buttons were mapped to R1 and R2. Now, I'm all for progress, but I was really happy to see that you can revert back to "Classic controls" in the options menu. This is exactly what I did and pretty soon I was happily bashing the square and triangle buttons like nobody's business! As we're used to, the L1 button was used to execute special attacks that can be unlocked and upgraded as you progress through the game. L2 now serves as the "aim" button for all your ranged attacks.
But wait, that's not all; because Kratos' son Atreus, whom he constantly and lovingly refers to as "boy!", is coming on this grand adventure with him, Kratos has an additional attack. Atreus can make good use of his Talon Bow by firing arrows at enemies, wounding them and temporarily diverting their attention away from Kratos, enabling him to attack more efficiently. Atreus' weapon, quiver and attacks can also be upgraded over time, each upgrade making him more and more useful and efficient in combat! At a certain point, he can even jump on enemies backs and throttle them with his bow.
Of course, in any situation that involves enemies, armor is a really nice thing to have. Luckily, there is no shortage of body protection in God of war! Ranging from Common to Epic, both Kratos and Atreus can adorn themselves with armor, making them more resilient to enemy attacks. This armor can also be upgraded, as well as be enhanced by adding so-called enchantments. Now, even in the Norse world, nothing is free, so be sure to collect as much Hacksilver, Aegir's Gold and other resources needed to pay for these upgrades. And upgrading doesn't stop at your armor; your weapon can also be upgraded by spending money and resources. You can even add additional attacks to it by adorning it with mystical runes and gemstones that influence your stats. And, if that wasn't enough, you can even add a different grip for even more power, defense, vitality or other stat upgrades.
Upgrading your gear and buying new skills is a great way to tailor your abilities and attacks to your preferred playing style. Are you partial to having a lot of strength, or do you want to play it safe and stack up on vitality. Maybe you're in need of a bit of luck when it comes to finding the much needed resources, or is defense just the thing you need? Every enchantment, piece of armor and other items you might find enhance any number of stats, so be sure to choose the ones that enhance the stats you need the most.
This brings us to the main course of God of War; the veritable buffet of enemies! These bad guys come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. It's up to you to discover which weak points to exploit in order to bring you that glorious victory! As we're used to from previous God of War games, the enemies are richly detailed and look nothing less than truly menacing! And one of my favorite game mechanics makes its triumphant return: the finishing move. Whenever an enemy is damaged enough, it will go into a kind of stunned state, enabling you to approach them and execute one of Kratos' signature brutal moves. Now, I don't know about you, but I personally think there's just something about climbing on a huge enemy, bashing its skull in and ripping its innards out that screams "Kratos was here!" at the top of its proverbial lungs.
When a man has a knack for making enemies in even less time than it takes a Bugatti Veyron to go from 0 to 60 miles per hour, it's always a good idea to have at least a few allies. Lucky for Kratos, he meets a few "people" along the way that are more than willing to help him, notwithstanding his usual charming demeanor. Sometimes, these characters will help you for free, but mostly Kratos will have to go on a side quest for some kind of long lost mystical object. In return, he will receive a just reward for his labors. You can even get your hands on treasure maps, pointing to the secret location of rich loot. Apart from this, a broad selection of NPC will provide you with side missions which you can choose to either fulfill or leave them on the table and continue on with the main story. At some point in the story, Kratos even reacquaints himself with a couple of old "friends" which, if I'm really honest, had me all but literally jumping for joy!
Now, this is usually the part where I would list any flaws of the game in question, only... I just can't think of a single one. Well, sure, the kid tends to get on my nerves every once in a while, but this is, and I can't stress this enough, in no way the game's fault. It's just that kids just have that effect on me! So, if you're not a grumpy guy with a penchant for disliking headstrong kids, than this will not be a problem for you! But, seriously now, I cannot find a single thing wrong with the new God of War. Visually, it looks absolutely stunning, the soundtrack is just as awesome, the characters are really, really cool and the story offers more depth than ever before during the lifespan of the entire series, so what's not to like?!
I could go on like this all day long and still not do God of War justice, or even come close to being able to express how much I really like this leviathan of a game (see what I did there?) As stated, it simply has no flaws, at least none that I can see. It is nothing less than an epic journey and a more than worthy successor of the God of War throne. This new God of War is truly magnificent, it's overwhelming, it's breathtaking and awe-inspiring. It's. it's. I'm running out of descriptions here! Wait, I know what to do! Now, I never ever rate a game by giving it points but, and this is purely hypothetical of course, if I had to rate God of War, I would really have to borrow a quote from the incomparable Nigel Tufnel of Spinal Tap. because this game truly goes to eleven!