God of War review: An epic father-son adventure

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Pretty much everyone who played the original God of War trilogy would agree that Kratos was a character exclusively defined by rage, but in the new God of War, that's no longer the case.

Though he is able to escape his old life, he can not escape tragedy.

Battles are plentiful, as is to be expected in a God of War title, but the revamped combat system and the replacement of Kratos' iconic Blades of Chaos with the Leviathan Axe is a welcome change that pushes the series forward into the current generation of consoles. Her last wishes were for the two to spread her ashes from the tallest peak, and thus the long and winding journey through a new world begins. God of War gives you flexibility and goal in its combat like no other game in the franchise has yet. Players feel like archeologists, learning more about the fiction with every foray into an unexplored corner of the map. This is not your father's God of War.

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In combat, your axe fits around Dark Souls-style blocks, dodges and parries. You brought something so special to the character of Atreus. At the moment, God of War sits at an excellent aggregate rating of 94 out of 100 over on Metacritic, made all the more impressive by the fact this score considers a whopping 81 reviews.

While the gameplay mechanics are incredibly polished and unreasonably addictive, God of War's greatest asset is its storytelling, which took me by surprise. This is a spoiler-free review-in-progress as I have yet to finish the game, but having spent approximately 25 to 30 hours battling my way tooth and nail through mystical planes, fending off all manner of fell beasts, and clashing with Norse gods, I can safely say that unless something truly atrocious happens in the game's finale, it is rocketing right to the top of my ongoing "Best of 2018" list. There were plenty of moments where I just wanted to pause the violence for a bit to venture into the unknown - and occasionally be met with even more violence.

Here's why Sony Santa Monica's latest God of War has all the ingredients of a bloody masterpiece. Strength, luck, defense, vitality - these attributes will all rise and fall as you upgrade weapons or socket new runes into your armor.

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Keza MacDonald in The Guardian summed up God of War simply: "It is rare to play a game so accomplished in everything it sets out to do". It's from Atreus' perspective that the game's lore is recorded as well in codex journal entries, tracking everything from creatures and enemies encountered to the overall lore. You can also manipulate your abilities in several cool ways, like linking them to a talisman that resets their cooldowns to create new builds. Providing he isn't incapacitated, he will immediately shoot at whatever enemy you're facing, causing the enemy to stagger, taking off a few slivers of health and providing a distraction. Since everything is told from Kratos' perspective here (the entire game is a one-shot, never cutting from the scene you start with), it can be hard to understand what's happening so quickly at the start.

And yet, he has a son to raise. What sets the game apart, however, is how much Atreus' empathy begins to influence his tough-as-nails father. Somehow, the studio has turned Kratos into a sympathetic character without erasing his past.

PowerUp! is playing God of War on PS4 using a promotional copy provided by Sony.

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While God of War won't be out until next week, reviews have gone live today.

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