Kratos is STILL the God of War.

When the new God of War was first announced I was in the camp that cried foul. This was not my God of War. This was a softer game that instead adopted the template of Sony’s other first-party games. The combat would not be visceral. The kid would end up being a horrible escort mission. All of these assumptions were dead wrong. I have played a lot of God of War. I have seen the credits roll. I have explored more of the world and all I can think is: I want more!

Sony Santa Monica’s God of War is not the end of the series as we know it. Instead it is the evolution of Kratos and his journey. From first glance some may think this game is adopting the Souls combat, or the game styles of something like The Last of Us, but those games it is not. This is God of War. The combat is visceral, the action is incredible, and the story goes places I simply could not put down. I wanted to know more, I want to keep playing, this might be the best PS4 game released to date.

MSRP: $59.99
Platforms: PS4
Price I’d Pay: $59.99

Let’s start with the combat. Sure the game drops the camera fixed behind Kratos. It now uses the R1 and R2 buttons to perform attacks, and it does take a while to acclimate to it, but once I got it, it was immaculate. The combat is fast and complex. The new axe is so diverse and satisfying. Being able to throw it across the room, punch enemies in the face, then tap a button to call back the axe, all while said axe tears through enemies in its path, is one of the most satisfying combat maneuvers in gaming.

There are also a lot of upgrades and items that can add bonuses to Kratos’ attacks. I won’t go into specifics, but think of gems in Diablo 3. Atreus also has a nice repertoire of combat options. He starts off with basic maneuvers, but after a while he starts to gain confidence and also becomes more aggressive. There is a lot to take in. Between Kratos and Atreus there is a lot going on, and it only gets more complex the further I got into the game. It all works though, and while some may think this combat is not as visceral and fast as previous games, I can assure you it most certainly is.

Players can also find and craft new armor for Kratos and Atreus. Much like any other game each set of armor is color-coded with varying stats and bonuses. Again, armor can also be enhanced with gems found or crafted throughout the game. There is a lot to the underlying systems, and it even changes how the characters look. I found myself getting more invested with these bonuses as more enemy types were introduced.

Speaking of enemies there are a lot to discover. There are standard enemies, bosses, and even some that serve as sort of collectibles. What I loved is how different each one is in combat. There are plenty of tactics to learn and knowing what the battle has in store changed my dynamic each time. A new feature to this entry is that enemies now have a health bar, stun bar, and a number next to those that dictates how difficult they are. The stun meter will slowly fill up, and when it does Kratos can perform a gruesome contextual attack. I loved discovering all of these, and yes they never get old.

The world building in God of War is some of the best. The conversations that are had during traversal are excellent, and entirely contextual. They change up in the post game. I am tip-toeing around spoilers here, but this is one of the first games in a long time where I would simply traverse around the world just to hear the stories and interactions.

The cut scenes all retain the same camera shot. Something God of War commits to is that the camera never changes scenes. It is all one continuous shot. It was a bold move by the developers, but it works. I loved seeing how everything panned in and out. There are plenty of epic moments scattered throughout the game, and each one delivered on its impact. This is a big game. It took me a solid 20 hours to get the credits rolled, and for this review I spent another ten just exploring the world and I still have so much more to do. Most importantly, I WANT to do it. I cannot wait to do it.

I can’t finish this review without discussing its visual prowess. The first-party lineup for Sony’s latest console continue to set the bar, and God of War is no exception. Taking advantage of the PS4 Pro and supporting both checkerboard 4K resolution and some of the best HDR I have seen yet. There are two graphics modes available in the game. I played about five hours with enhanced visuals, then switched to the performance mode. I highly suggest the latter. The combat feels so much better in this mode and the visual hit is not all that striking.

That said, this game is absolutely stunning. Each new area I visited was littered with unique architecture that simply blew my mind. The trailers and previews have not shown even a fraction of the environments in this game. There are many times I would stop and just say “wow” this game is truly stunning.

The voice work is equally impressive. Featuring some outstanding performances. Sure TC Carter does not reprise his role, but Cristopher Judge simply nails it. Every performance is on the same level. I remember these characters. Their performances have stuck with me. Finally the score, just wow. Mixing subtle orchestral sweeps with some vocal work that simply sends chills. Bear McCreary has really outdone himself with this score.

God of War is, simply put, the best PS4 game I have played in the console’s life-cycle. I can’t stop thinking about its world and characters. I had so much fun exploring it and taking on its combat. I wanted more, and the game delivers. After having hesitations about the direction I thought the game was going, I am thrilled to report that all of my concerns were nullified within the first hour of the game. This is the true evolution of the series, and quite possibly the best game of the year. Well at least so far.

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

  • Visually stunning
  • Combat is visceral and fun
  • Stellar performances
  • Story is great
  • World building is amazing
  • No photo mode...yet
Written by
Ken is the Editor-in-Chief of this hole in the wall and he loves to troll for the fun of it. He also enjoys long walks through Arkham Asylum and the cool air of Shadow Moses Island. His turn-ons include Mortal Kombat, Metal Gear Solid and StarCraft.