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The new and rebooted God of War marks a major transformation for one of the PlayStations most famous franchises. Almost a decade since protagonist Kratos finished his violent, bloody revenge tour against the Greek gods, developer Sony Santa Monica has changed the stakes.

Protagonist Kratos now resides in the woody foothills of Midgard, part of the Norse Nine Realms. The locational shift brings with it a whole universe of new characters and mythologies, all of which the game uses to great effect. Its an amazing artistic achievement, pushing Sonys PS4 console to the brink to deliver the most beautiful game on any platform.

Much like previous games in the series, God of War is very much an experience about combat, but with the new setting comes new tools of battle. Kratos fights with a magical axe called Leviathan – a brutal tool of decimation that channels the frosts of Midgard to unleash powerful icy attacks upon his enemies.

It works at range, too – Kratos is capable of lobbing it at enemies, freezing them in place and dealing huge amounts of damage. Just one tap of a button sends the hammer hurtling back toward your hands, much like Thors Mjolnir.

Whats so impressive about this latest outing, though, is the balance between frenetic conflict and heartfelt tension. While previous games focused mostly on revenge, God of War focuses almost solely on the relationship between Kratos and his son, Atreus, and their lengthy journey to fulfil the last wishes of a deceased loved one.

The areas it ventures during its many hours of play are frequently awe-inspiring, but the game never loses sight of the unexpectedly tender father-son bond. A violent, epic adventure, God of War isnt afraid to show a little heart.

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