Editor’s Choice: Why God of War is one of the best games of 2018

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Editor’s Choice: Why God of War is one of the best games of 2018

Revisiting Santa Monica Studio's stunning reinvention of an action game icon

God of War defies hyperbole. Almost every effusive thing you may have heard about Santa Monica Studio’s hit is borne out through gameplay. It’s a study in contrasts. It’s brutal, but sensitive; fast, but methodical; huge and sprawling, but intimate and focused; loud, but quiet.

It is first and foremost a fabulous action game. Experts will love the infinite ways they can approach any given battle. Novices will appreciate that they can smash on R1 and R2 and wail their way through the game effectively, if a bit inelegantly. Kratos’ boomerang-like Leviathan Axe is a masterclass in satisfying weapon design, adding weighty impact to every fight. His fledgling son, Atreus, boldly fires both colorful quips and helpful elemental arrows into the fray as well.

God of WarGod of War

It’s a big game, too, with lots to see and do. God of War is famously set against the wondrous backdrop of Norse mythology – another pantheon for Kratos to make waves in. Speaking of water, exploring the Norse realms as father and son is hugely rewarding. Every moment spent battling Draugr, helping Wayward Spirits, and soaking in the vivid world is a delight.

Somehow, though, the giant ogres, dragons, cat-lizards, and jaw-dropping vistas all play second fiddle to the rocky relationship between father and son. If you really want to know the true secret behind God of War’s artistry, the reason it won so many critical accolades and such ardent love from fans… well, look to its uncanny insight into dysfunctional families.

God of War

Kratos isn’t a good role model, or even a particularly good guy. But he’s trying to change his ways, to “be better.” His inexperience as a father — rendered in a brilliantly subtle, award-winning performance by Christopher Judge — is both awkward and moving. Underneath that gruff exterior, you see, Kratos is scared: of the responsibility of parenthood, and by the reckless anger he sees in his son, an anger that serves as a mirror to his own deicidal past.

Atreus, meanwhile, would rather be almost anywhere else than traveling with dear old dad. He bristles at Kratos’s attempts to control him, and resists his cautious approach to danger. He’s smart and spirited, but he’s young and impatient.

Against all odds, the connection between this unlikely pair deepens and matures over the course of their epic quest. They grow and learn from each other. And, layer by layer, they gradually shed the psychological armour they’ve both built up. Until, by the time the game ends, they’ve become a true family.

God of WarGod of War

God of War’s story is remarkably deep and personal. Material of this calibre is rarely explored in the interactive medium, and the execution here is virtually flawless.

God of War is one of the best games of the year, and the generation.

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  • Game of the generation? That’s taking it way too far. God of War is fun, but it does nothing to reinvent the action-adventure genre or set a bar for developers to look up to. Everything in that game has been done before & better.

    • Hm. Nope. Not better. To me this has been by far the best game of it’s type and the best game of this current generation. I absolutely loved it when it came out back in April and now it’s end of the year and looking back on the year’s worth of games I loaded it back up again and played through again for hours. It’s absolutely my fave game of the year. It just feels so much better than anything else out there, especially for hack n slash gameplay and is one of the few games where I’ve loved the story and characters and rarely skip through cutscenes even those I’ve seen many times before. It’s too damn beautiful to just pass over parts and I still can’t believe the level of quality the game has in every department or the amazing level of skill and patience required to have planned it all out to be an almost single cut camera viewpoint which for me made it far more immersive than any FIRST person game has ever managed. I felt I was right there with Kratos and Atreus on their voyage (as much as current technology can allow) even if they didn’t interact with me personally at any point. It is certainly a new benchmark in many areas of game production. Absolute work of art and nothing else for me has come close this year to even rival it.

    • Quite clearly a fan of Fortnite!

    • I actually hate Fortnite, so stop being a dumbass. You can cut the “fan of Fortnite” crap. That’s a sad thing with a lot of you fanboys, someone has a different opinion on a game and all of a sudden you think you know their taste in games. Re-skinned enemies, only one good boss fight, mixed level design. Seems like they focused more on the story than making the game fun to play. And I’ve saw enough people make up excuses like “they’re saving bosses for the next game”. Like I said, everything in this game has been done before and in some cases, better. It’s nothing new for people that have been playing action-adventure games for years. This game can be called one of the best of the year, but far from generation.

  • It’s one of those games that if you’re into gameplay you think about picking up in a 70% sale and then don’t, then get 7 years later on PS+ and don’t bother downloading.

    Really wish before the PS5 there’s a gameplay and fun first party exclusive. No slow walking, no “look at these pretty graphics”, just fun original gameplay, with fun original characters. Sick of 3/10 cover shooters, generic hack and slash and rip offs of other, better games, just with “trailer quality” graphics and a story about boring people.

    It’s why all the best games this generation will continue to be third party.

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