Down in Ragnarok: God of War Review
I am just gonna cut to the chase in case you want to know if you should buy God of War if you haven't already.
God of War is fucking amazing. There is no way around it. Even if the story was not one of the best since The Last of Us, the gameplay is so fun and spot on that you could play just for the exhilarating combat and still have a good experience. Luckily the story is the best part about this masterpiece.
Yeah, I said masterpiece.
God of War (and Kratos) seemed to be a relic of the past. A game that had its time in the sun with the first 3 entries (as well as one good PSP entry) and then limped on with a prequel in Ascension that felt like more of the same. It seemed like God of War had run its course. But series director Cory Barlog decided to take Kratos somewhere he had never been before...outside the confines of Greek mythology. Not only that, but they gave Kratos a son and a deeper meaning besides just running around, screaming at everything and screwing women with button prompts.
Now the series has done something that many of its fans have done. It grew up.
The testosterone filled teenagers that began playing God of War in 2005 are now 13 years older, in their mid to late 20's, or older, possibly with families of their own and trying to navigate the overwhelming world of parenting. Now Kratos is back and instead of the chain swinging, dick laying masculinity god, he is a humbled, soft spoken father helping navigate his son through danger.
Kratos has lost his wife and he and his son, Atreus, begin the journey to scatter her ashes from the tallest peak in the realm. Don't worry, you learn more of his wife and time in between games as you make your trek. And because this is a video game things do not go as planned on the way there. Kratos spends his time cleaving creatures with his new weapon, the Leviathan axe as Atreus helps him with his trusty bow.
Essentially the game is a large escort mission. I know, I know those are some of the most dreaded words to anyone playing a video game, but much like Bioshock Infinite and The Last of Us, you do not have worry about Atreus. He can handle himself and at most he will faint until the combat is over. If anything he makes the combat more enjoyable with you being able to control where he shoots arrows adding a new depth to enemy encounters. He will even hop onto enemies and attack them with his knife giving you openings to attack. It really is the best integration of an escort character ever.
There are so many ways to upgrade Kratos and Atreus that it is almost ridiculous. Everything from attack upgrades to armor and individual weapons can be personalized. Even pommels for your axe (and other weapons wink, wink) as well as armor can be changed and each set has its own set of stats meaning you have to focus on what you want to prioritize for your character, whether it be strength and defense, or luck and rune strength.
If you are a fan of mythology throughout different cultures like I am you are treated to a game that is dripping with Norse history and tales. Just like any other mythology their characters are flawed and just plain fucked up. I want to say so much about the characters you will meet along the way, but the story is so well woven that so much is a spoiler. Just know that Kratos works just as well with Norse gods as he does with Greek ones which means not well at all. He thought he had escaped the god killing business, but like The Godfather Part III, just when he thought he was out they pull him right back in.
I say this with no hyperbole. God of War in 4K HDR is the most beautiful game ever crafted. From how intricate characters are in cutscenes to the vibrant color of each new realm you discover. It takes a lot to make me just stop and take everything in while you are in the middle of a story this great. This is one of those games.
So if you want a summary of God of War here it is:
Visuals, music, production design, environments, controls, voice acting. Name any aspect of this game and it is the new standard for how large games should be handled. The care that was taken when crafting it is unrivaled. This is what happens when you have first party studios and let them take time to hone their craft and tell the story they want to tell.
We're not talking game of the year. We are in the game of the generation conversation.
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