'God of War' review: Keeping it in the family

SIE Santa Monica Studio  Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

SIE Santa Monica Studio Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

In the last decade, formerly two-dimensional avatars from Lara Croft to Wolfenstein's BJ Blazkowicz have been retrofitted with backstories and motivations - with varying success.

This week, Dave Tach joins Charlie Hall for a spoiler-free discussion of God of War. He has retired to Scandinavia, is recently widowed and father to a tweenaged son who knows nothing of his god-slaying, blood-soaked past in Greece.

"God of War marks the glorious and bloody return of everyone's favourite Spartan, and with the new dive into Norse mythology, there's still plenty of adventures to look forward to as the series evolves". New gods reign here, and they seem especially curious as to why a Greek god might want to impose on them. They'll wait until you've finished a swing and then attack. These items let you upgrade your gear in a variety of ways, either tuning them for more damage output, defence and an array of magical effects.

While God of War won't be out until next week, reviews have gone live today. This is a game where you play a god in hiding, journeying through a mythical Norse world with his son, and Santa Monica Studio has done a stellar job at making each step seem colossal. This cinematic commitment to Kratos' point of view enhances the story's efforts to humanise him.

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USGamer (5/5)"This is how you do a reboot". There are abundant moments of outstanding beauty: canoeing beneath the rusting legs of an ancient statue of Thor and on to a lake; traversing the bodies of fallen giants; entering a temple to find cavernous, treasure-packed chambers, resplendent works of virtual architecture.

For as incredible as this game sounds, it isn't launching without a few problems.

Every hit has heft ...

I've never been the biggest fan of God of War, which is why I'm so surprised to walk away from the latest entry saying that this is one of the most essential PS4 exclusives yet.

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"From its renewed focus on storytelling, to its stunningly gorgeous world and incredibly satisfying combat, God of War is nothing short of a masterpiece, one that sets a new bar for what can be accomplished in the world of AAA games".

Perhaps most surprising, and welcome, is the depth of exploration that the game invites. The mythological setting imbues this world with mystery.

While the game still employs the occasional quick-time event-a mode of frantic button pushing to make a cutscene feel interactive that the series popularized way back when-it avoids over reliance on the outdated game mechanic by putting you into dynamic, fast-paced combat situations where you must use your Leviathan Axe (and its magical boomerang like qualities), tactical evasion, and well-timed arrow strikes from Kratos' son Atreus in order to survive. Coupled with Kratos' ever-expanding list of moves is a button (square) devoted exclusively to the control of Atreus, which seamlessly weaves the young companion into the action. Even more so when you consider that God of War is quite literally about the paternal bond between father and son.

Players also need to be sure they can handle the "Give Me God of War" difficulty before they select it because they cannot change it once they have already started.

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Indeed, much of God of War is spent cleaving all sorts of draugr, revenant and troll from head to toe.

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