Review: ‘God of War’ smartly goes from godhood to parenthood

Video games have grown up with their audience. The people who write code, create art and compose music have gotten older and wiser. They’ve evolved just like the technology they use to forge their multimillion-dollar spectacles.

That changing perspective is reflected in Kratos, the protagonist at the center of the “God of War” series. The Spartan was introduced as a power fantasy for players. He was a larger-than-life character who tore apart his adversaries, slept with mortals and gods alike and murdered nearly the entire Greek pantheon as revenge for numerous betrayals.

The new chapter in the “God of War” saga finds Kratos at a different stage of his life. He has started over quietly in Midgard, a land of the Norse gods. His wife, Faye, has just died and he and his son, Atreus, are tasked with fulfilling her dying wish — to scatter her ashes in the highest peak in the Nordic realm.

The quest is a far cry from the blunt revenge tale that beat players down with unrelenting violence. The new “God of War” is restrained and thoughtful. Its themes are more nuanced, as Kratos has to be a father for once, and he has the sobering responsibility of raising a boy who doesn’t make the same mistakes that he did.

Parenting is a topic that games don’t generally address, but “God of War” tackles the subject with a deliberate and careful approach that’s mirrored in the gameplay. Santa Monica Studio rethought everything about the franchise in what’s essentially a reboot. The quick-twitch button-mashing combat of the original is replaced with a fighting system that has more in common with “Dark Souls.”

With a new weapon called the Leviathan Axe, players chop down enemies with R1 and R2 buttons and perform shorter combos. Because the camera hugs Kratos closely, …read more

Source:: The Mercury News

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