The ghost of Sparta is back!
It was the year 2005 when the first chapter of God of War came up PlayStation 2. It hasn't been many years since then, but in gaming terms, a lot has changed. Today, in fact, among the productions that are the most popular we have the so-called independent titles and the much vaunted and publicized remasterings of more or less successful titles of the past.
Among these, there are also triple A productions, which we can compare to the cinematographic Colossals. These are securities that must have certain characteristics and achieve a certain overall quality that can justify the outlay. Here, it is in this category that God of War, the latest effort of the Santa Monica Studio, among other things, creators of all the chapters of the franchise. A series that has almost never disappointed fans, if not with the Ascension chapter.
The usual Hack & Slash?
God of War was born as a title Hack & Slash and without any doubt he was together with the various Devil May Cry and Bayonetta, among the best exponents of the genre. However, a clean break with the past was necessary. That's what he did Cory Barlog (director of God of War II), the creative mind behind this reboot / sequel. Forget the classic Hack & Slash, God of War, moving away from the traditional canons of the series, is a mature, solid and unforgettable dynamic adventure.
Padre e figlio
Although God of War is a totally different title from those we've come to know in over a decade, however it manages to maintain a certain continuity with the past, essentially representing a natural evolution of the brand. Once the campaign has started, we find ourselves before the God of War, Kratos, with a long, thick beard that begins to show signs of age. Greece and its divinities are now memories of the past and Kratos, eager to leave everything behind, decides to go to the icy lands of Scandinavia. Her life history is a secret or almost, the only one who knows everything is his partner Faye. The death of the latter, however, will mark the beginning of the umpteenth journey of the Ghost of Sparta, which accompanied by his son Atreus, will have to carry Faye's ashes to the highest mountain in the nine kingdoms.
The God of War narrative revolves around the father-son relationship. On the one hand we have Kratos, apparently calm and who instead is literally destroyed by the pain of the loss of his partner. However, he maintains his integrity in front of his son, proving to be a severe and all-in-one father, ready to harshly reprimand Atreus for having underestimated one of the many situations that will arise or for the mistakes made. On the other hand, we have Atreus, a frail boy, but with a really not bad temper, who faces the loss of his mother in a more emotional way, finding himself having to deal with a father who by his own admission was not very present.
The link between the two, although it is characterized by highs and lows, is there and can be felt from the beginning of the game until the end credits. We can compare it a little to the relationship between Joel and Ellie from The Last of Us, with the only difference that while in the latter case the relationship works more in narrative and empathic terms, the one between Kratos and Atreus fits better in terms of gameplay. In fact, their relationship will become more and more synergistic, with the advancement of the game plot and with the improvement of the respective skills of each. All this will translate into ever more adrenaline and satisfying clashes and fights. For the record, it took us about 25 hours to complete the God Of War story arc. To complete the game 100% it would take another 20, so if you are among those who collect Platinum Trophies one after the other, know that God of War will keep you busy for a long time.
Freedom or almost
One of the aspects that left us pleasantly surprised is the size of the game map. We are not dealing with an open world on a par with Breath of the Wild so to speak but compared to the past, although overall it remains a rather linear experience, there is greater freedom of action and exploration. There are many areas to discover and we can do it using the boat and some portals. In our wanderings through the nine kingdoms that make up the entire game map, in addition to facing the epic main campaign, it will be possible to carry out additional quests, served up by some secondary characters that we will meet. In addition, the many collectibles present, including artifacts, chests, unique and rare objects, treasure maps, will push us to explore every nook and cranny of this wonderful game world. However, full freedom is left to the player, whether or not to carry out the activities present, activities that become practically obligatory if you decide to improve the skills of the good Kratos and his son Atreus.
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The Ax is my best friend
A solid narrative plot, greater exploratory freedom, but the real beating heart of the production is given by the Combat System. A system that has undergone the greatest changes compared to past chapters of the series. The goal was not to distort a title like God of War but rather to make it more suitable and usable for the current videogame generation.. The good Kratos no longer wields his famous double blades that had so distinguished him and helped him in his battle towards the conquest of Olympus. He now has a devastating new weapon, namely the Ax of Leviathan which he inherited from fellow warrior Faye. The God of War can use the weapon in two different ways: o as a melee weapon, alternating with R1 and R2 light blows and heavy blows, or as a ranged weapon. In the latter case it will be necessary to aim with L2 and throw the ax towards the enemies or the environmental opportunity (puzzles or mechanisms) which will require the use of the ax as a throwing weapon. Once the ax is thrown, Kratos can strike directly with his bare hands. The potential of this weapon is infinite, especially if from the appropriate game menu we select the runes and talismans that we will find on our path.
By pressing the triangle button on the DualShock 4 instead, Kratos will be able to recall, as Thor does with his Hammer, the ax to himself. And what does Atreus do? Are you looking at us? Absolutely not. Atreus is an excellent archer, its help will be essential not only in battle but also for activating buttons or opening new passages otherwise inaccessible. Atreus' archery skills are directly related to the storyline. Advancing will unlock new types of arrows that will help us in the continuation of our journey. The combined use of Leviathan and arrows offers several opportunities in terms of gameplay that we let you discover directly to you firsthand.
If you believe that it will be enough for you to hit with slashes and blows from a distance to get the better you are wrong. The Combat System of the game seems to have at least partially abandoned the direct approach in favor of a greater weighting of the action. Which requires you to execute shots and combos at the right moment that offer that extra touch that perhaps was lacking in the past. Kratos must also take care of the defensive phase, thus having to make use of his too mighty shield that in addition to protecting it in the event of an enemy attack, it too can be both close and from a distance, could open up new opportunities for counterattack. In fact, by recalling the shield at the appropriate time, we will be able to carry out a parring, or a maneuver that will temporarily stun the unfortunate enemy who, inexorably uncovering his side, will allow the God of War to unleash all his destructive fury. If you need help during the fight, just press the square button and Atreus will start shooting arrows. Referring to the latter, he does not need help and nor will we have to keep an eye on his health. It could only happen that if called back, he does not intervene very quickly in the fight, as he has been stunned or is now exhausted, but as soon as he recovered he will be really useful. Finally, to complete the picture, there is no lack of the Fury of Sparta, which can be used by simultaneously pressing the two analog sticks when the special bar, positioned under the health bar, is completely full. This ability makes Kratos invulnerable for ten seconds and will allow him to unleash devastating attacks.
In God of War there is also a good RPG component. The crafting section basically rests on two different components. On the one hand, we have silver and resources that we can get in game, destroying vases, crates and defeating enemies. On the other hand, we have the section relating to the growth of Kratos and Atreus which focuses on XP points. Then by going to the shops of Sindri and Brok, and spending the available currency, or silver, we will be able to customize Armor, Weapons and Skills. In the appropriate menu, there are three sections related to Kratos Armor, namely: Bust Armor, Hip Armor and Armor Armor while only one for Atreus. The possible combinations are many and it would be a little difficult for us to list them all. Here, in summary, it will be enough for you to know that each of our choices will impact on 6 fundamental characteristics: Strength, Runic, Defense, Vitality, Luck and Recharge. Equivalent speech applies to the Weapons available, which can be freely upgraded as long as you have the right amount of silver and required resources available. In the absence of these, we will be able to sell some artifact, resource or spell that we do not use.
As for the XP front, we will be able to access, through the Options button of the Dualshock 4, directly to the Weapons, Armor and Skills screen. Basically, in the Weapons section, we will be able to select the Leviathan or the bow and add an upgrade. In the first case, we have a section Light Runic Attack, another related to the Heavy Runic attack and finally a third that allows us to add an object to the Axis Pommel that can give us an additional bonus, for example a vitality bonus. By selecting the Atreus arc instead, we will have only one section, Runic Summons which offer the young fighter a runic attack. The same goes for the Armor, which can get bonuses and spells of various types. As for the skill tree, the skills are divided into three categories: Leviathan, Guardian Shield and Claw. These sections, once you have obtained the respective XP points, will allow you to enhance some features. For example, increase the number of Permagelo with each stroke of the ax or improve the Fury of Sparta or even increase the damage of the arrows fired by Atreus.
The progression in the growth of the characters is good. We are not faced with an absolute novelty in the videogame panorama but ultimately the system works quite well, allowing the player to experiment with different styles of play during the adventure. It should be emphasized that while enhancing skills and weapons, the enemies will simultaneously become stronger and more difficult to face. Their "paraphernalia" is quite varied and even the move set is not always easily readable, especially when we find ourselves having to face bosses and mini-bosses of various kinds.
A Kratos in great shape
Where God of War gives its best is certainly on the exquisitely technical aspect. The game does not present significant uncertainties. We have tried it both on PlayStation 4 standard and be on PlayStation 4 Pro and we realized that we were in front of a real masterpiece. In the Pro version it is possible to choose between two types of settings: Resolution and Framerate. The first favors dynamic resolution, up to 4K and 30 fps (never stable), across the checkerboard rendering and the second mode allows you to "sacrifice" the resolution (up to 1080p) in favor of overall better performance, like the 60fps framerate, unfortunately not always stable, as on more than one occasion we found ourselves in front of conspicuous drops that brought the framerate to 45/50 and to an all too evident aliasing.
Having tried the game in both "configurations," especially if you face the adventure at a high difficulty level, the Resolution mode is badly suited to such a title. Therefore our advice is to play the first stages of the game in Resolution mode, in this way you will understand why God of War is currently unquestionably the best title that can run on consoles. But when things start to get harder, switch to Framerate mode which will surely facilitate you during the clashes, guaranteeing a noticeably greater fluidity.
For the rest, the work done by Santa Monica is nothing short of superlative. The game has no uploads of any kind, just to maintain that cinematic cut that the Californian studio had set for itself. The characters have been finely modeled and the level of detail is amazing especially in reference to the facial expressions that border on photorealism. A sound from 10 and praise, few but significant tracks, a dubbing at monster levels, make God of War a real videogame masterpiece. If, as the producer said, there could be 5 sequels in the pipeline, our hope is that the future God of War can actually become fully explorable open worlds.
- - Extraordinary artistic direction
- - Technically it is the best title available on consoles to date
- - Revamped Combat System
- - Kratos is always Kratos
- - Some framerate drops