Going into God of War, I had unreasonably high expectations, and I was STILL blown away by the genius of the folks at Santa Monica. Taking a well established and highly familiar character in Kratos and turning him into a devoted father figure seemed a daunting task, but the game does an incredible job of giving you insight into the struggles and ideals that Kratos puts on full display during the very entertaining interactions between him and his boy.

The story felt incredibly well done, with most of it being very mysterious at the start of the game, and then being fleshed out as the player progressed. The manner in which certain characters came into interaction with Kratos and his son felt very genuine and original, and always left me wanting to know more about their place in the world, and what it all meant for my journey.

The gameplay is surprisingly sophisticated, with an experience oriented progression system you can initially customize to your preferred style of attack. Although most of the battles in God of War are tackled with a great selection of choice for the player, there are certain battles that require you to vary your fighting style, which helps to avoid the player becoming too accustomed to a “one size, fits all” approach to combat. Also, something else I noticed about the game was its remarkable ability to “throttle” the experience for the player, rewarding you with great cutscenes, visuals, and items after particularly tough battles, and keeping these challenges well spaced out so as not to potentially exhaust the player.

The soundtrack is amazing, with most of the tunes coming together in a blend of nordic inspired battle themes, along with more familiar, classic sounds from previous titles. Every fight sounds epic, and you can hear the tension being played out with help from the orchestra.

All in all, I’m tremendously grateful to the men and women at Santa Monica Studio, who obviously worked very hard on rejuvenating a beloved franchise from my childhood. Because of this, I not only view God of War as an incredibly enjoyable experience for those new to the series, but also as an absolute must-have for long-time fans.