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Chris Kavan's Video Game Reviews (497)

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Control 4/5
Victor Vran 3/5
Katamari Damacy REROLL 4/5
Hitman: Absolution 3.5/5
Alternativa 2.5/5
Stardew Valley 4/5
Undertale 4/5
Cyberpunk 2077 3/5
Fable Anniversary 3/5
Strange Brigade 4/5
Satellite Reign 3/5
Watch Dogs 2 4/5
Divinity: Original Sin 2 4.5/5
Marvel: Ultimate Allian... 3/5
Star Trek: Bridge Crew 3/5
Metro 2033 3.5/5
South Park: The Fractur... 4/5
Sundered 3.5/5
Mass Effect: Andromeda 3.5/5
Life is Strange: Before... 4/5
God of War 4/5
Doom (2016) 3.5/5
Armada 3.5/5
Detroit: Become Human 4/5

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God of War   PlayStation 4 

Older, Wiser, Bigger, Better    4/5 stars

When the first God of War was released on Playstation 2 in 2005, it was a huge hit for Sony as well as being a great action game. The sequels that came followed the same patter or action/adventure linear path that had Kratos swing his now-iconic chain blades as he took on the Greek gods themselves. I admits, I never moved beyond the sequel, as I felt the game never offered much beyond a simple action concept with far too many combos. The story was pretty good, but it started to get stale. But when it came for a new God of War to grace the PS4, things changed - much for the better - giving God of War fans what they wanted and so much more. For me, it revitalized the series while being another major hit for Sony - garnering tons of critical praise along with being awarded numerous Game of the Year awards.

Presentation: This game looks amazing - no doubt. It stands with Horizon: Zero Dawn as a big reason to support Sony. While I'm always a bit peeved by "exclusives", Sony certainly can compete with the rest. All-around, the design is top-notch, characters, enemies, the environment, the sound and the music - it's a tour de force and one of the most impressive titles of this generation. The voice talent includes some industry veterans - like Nolan North, Troy Baker and Alastair Duncan with some Hollywood talent including Jeremy Davies (as Baldur), Sunny Suljic (as Kratos' son Atreus) and Danielle Bisutti (as Freya). Christopher Judge (probably best known to most people as Teal'c from the Stargate series) does the heavy lifting as Kratos - even if a lot of the performance is grunts, hrumphs and growls (or BOY - Do This Things for Me!). Because this is a more open world type game - the environments are a big factor and each of the realms you can travel to have their own distinct look and feel - from the frozen wastes of the underworld, Helheim to the fiery, volcanic Muspelheim. Enemies are also quite varied - from towering trolls to floating nightmares and the optional, very tough Valkyries. All in all, the game impresses on pretty much every level.

Story: The story picks up many years after Kratos took his revenge and vengeance on the Greek gods - and he has now settled down with a wife and son in the ancient past of Norway, called Midgard. Exchanging Greek mythology for Norse, the game begins with the death of Kratos' wife - Faye - as well as the wards of protection she had cast around their area of land. Almost immediately the immortal god Baldur shows up and after a long, violent battle, Kratos and Atreus begin their quest to scatter their mother's ashes from the highest mountain in the realms.

Of course, it can't be that easy. The Mountain they need to climb is blocked by dark magic, and after running into the Witch of the Woods (who later turns out to be Freya - mother of Baldur), they are awarded passage to Alfheim, where the light elf magic is needed to banish the dark. But atop the mountain, they only find only Mímir - supposedly the wisest man in the land, who has been trapped by Odin. But Kratos isn't about to be stopped and frees Mímir - or at least his severed head - who then accompanies the duo for the remainder of the game, often telling stories about how Odin and Thor are total pricks (and he himself isn't without blame) - along with the fall of the giants. It turns out the tallest mountain in the realms is in Jötunheim, realm of the giants, which has been sealed off for fear that Odin and Thor would seek to wipe out all giants.

The journey has them also confronting Thor's sons, Modi and Magni. along with a very angry dragon, Hræzlyr while bartering with a pair of estranged dwarven brothers, the gruff Brok and the germaphobe Sindri - who also forge your weapons and armor, acting as the game's merchants. The Norse mythology is a nice change, while also allowing Kratos to confront his past while trying to come to terms with how to tell Atreus what his true nature is - and control that power when he eventually learns the truth. The end game features a nice twist that, should they continue this story, opens up several possibilities for a sequel.

Gameplay: A far cry from the hack/slash combo system of the traditional God of War, this version is a third-person action/adventure - more in line with the recent Tomb Raider (and, yes, some Dark Souls influence as well). Your main weapon to start is the Leviathan Axe, which you can throw, use light or heavy melee attacks and unlock special abilities as well. You also have a shield that can be used in both offense and defense and your bare hands as well. All enemies have a stun gauge that, once maxed out, allows for an insta-kill move. Atreus isn't just there for the story - his arrows can both distract and stun enemies and, by the end game, becomes a powerful tool for stunning even the hardiest of foes, while providing backup depending on how you outfit him.

The game features a variety of armor you can collect and fine-tune. Both weapons and armor affect your core stats: Strength (physical damage), Runic (Frost/Fire Damage), Vitality (HP), Defense (self-explanatory, hopefully), Luck (XP and Hacksilver gain) and Cooldown (reduces the wait for special attacks - both for you and Atreus). Certain armor boosts one stat more than others - so figuring out what you need is paramount. I mostly focused on straight-up Strength and Defense, and it got me through the main game fine. End game stuff was tougher, but I didn't chase after the best armor, either.

Upgrading includes adding runes and enchantments to weapons and armor - which involves a variety of materials. Hacksilver is the primary currency and can be found all around. More exotic armor requires more exotic materials - many which can be found by defeating certain enemies or opening more hidden chests. Much of the best armor in the game can only be acquired by hunting down powerful enemies or taking on the different realms. You don't need any of this to beat the main game, but for end-game content (like hunting down Valkyries or taking on the second tier Muspelheim challenges) require some decent gear. You also unlock a lot of abilities - both for you and Atreus - and you will have plenty of XP to unlock everything, believe me.

The game doesn't punish you too much for dying - often loading you very close to the losing battle. That being said, it took me a fair bit to get the hang of the system, which does involve a lot of dodging and some strategy. Atreus is a godsend - especially when you upgrade him. There are collectibles to find, people to help, stats to increase and bunch of other stuff to explore - while not quite a true open world game - it does give you freedom to explore a bit while still leading you down a fairly straight path.

Replayability: While the end-game content offers a lot for the hardcore player to accomplish - actually going back and completing the entire game again (unless you just want to bump up the the difficulty, of course) doesn't offer much as there are no branching paths as such, so aside from making you even angrier, not much to replay here.

Overall: God of War has grown up and evolved with the times and if this is the kind of adventures Kratos and Son are going to be on - I'm on board with it.

Presentation: 5/5
Story: 4/5
Gameplay: 4/5
Replayability: 3/5
Overall (not an average): 4/5



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