Parents need to know that “God of War” is a violent and bloody action game for the PS4. Using sharp weapons, his fists and feet, and his son’s bow and arrow, the main character kills numerous people, monsters, and animals, sometimes in brutal fashion, resulting in bloodshed, gore, and dismemberment. Profanity in the game includes “s--t,” “f--k,” and “a--hole.” One character constantly uses crude language when interacting with other characters, mainly in a store setting. This is the latest installment in the popular franchise, and the first one on the PS4. While controls are different than previous games, they’re easy to learn, and there are multiple difficulty levels to reduce frustration for players.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
In this new beginning for the “God of War” series, Kratos has left Greece and the civilized world for the snowy woods, where he and his wife had been raising their son until her recent death. But when a mysterious stranger attacks their home, Kratos and the boy head for the mountains for what quickly becomes an epic adventure. Aiding them in their quest is a fluid, intuitive mix of both newly updated and classic gameplay from this long-running hack & slash action series, including a more modern camera perspective and some deeper customizing options.
IS IT ANY GOOD?
Though this updates many of this series’ iconic gameplay, it does so in a way that maintains everything great about this mature hack & slash action series. In “God of War,” our hero Kratos has retired to a cabin in the woods with his wife and son. But after his wife dies, and he’s attacked by a mysterious stranger, he and the boy head into the mountains for an adventure of epic proportions. Which, as usual with this series, involved lots of exploring, a bunch of rock climbing, and a whole lot of smacking monsters in the head and chest with sharp instruments.
But this installment makes a number of gameplay changes: initially, these might seem like minor adjustments, but their inclusion radically revitalizes the action of the franchise. These tweaks include a new over-the-shoulder perspective, a player-controlled camera, and a hearty axe that can not only slice and dice with the best of them, but it can also be thrown. Even cooler (no pun intended), the axe can freeze some enemies in place. It can also be used to encase devices, like a counterweight, in ice to keep a gate open. Kratos also gets a lot of help from the kid, whose bow and arrow can be used, when dad commands it, to kill enemies or distract them so Kratos can kill them easier. While the game does have a couple minor issues — like accidentally using a health crystal when trying to pick up loot, or the incredibly tiny size of the text and button prompts — the addictive combat, clever problems, and varied action not only make “God of War” the most compelling entry in this series since 2008’s “Chains of Olympus,” but one of this year’s most engaging action games yet.
RATING AND CONTENT
Recommended for ages 17 and older
Quality: 5 out of 5
Positive messages: 3 out of 5
Positive role models: 3 out of 5
Ease of play: 4 out of 5
Violence: 5 out of 5
Sex: 0 out of 5
Language: 4 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, and smoking: 0 out of 5
Consumerism: 1 out of 5
Platforms: PlayStation 4
Developer: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Release date: April 20, 2018
ESRB rating: M for blood and gore, intense violence, strong language