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Games: God Of War a glorious throwback to when games were about manly men hurting things

God of War – Kratos still makes the Hulk look like Bill Bixby
Neil McGreevy

God of War (PS4)

By: Sony

WITH senses-slamming mythological mayhem that made 300 look like Toy Story, 2005's God of War tore up the PS2 when its ageing hardware was creaking like an old screen door, and the series has rightfully become a Sony staple.

Bald Spartan terror Kratos has spilled mythological blood in a slew of testosterone-pumped sequels, and now the time-tested triage of guts, gore and glory finally lands on PS4, where fans can cop some carnage with a reboot that turns its thundering production values up to 11.

A reimagining that shifts from Greek to Scandinavian mythology, it's founderin' out there and an older Kratos must protect his son in a chilly world of Norse gods. Since putting an end to Zeus, Kratos is no longer a one-note embodiment of anger. Our hipster, neck-bearded demigod has been fleshed out, having married and sired a kid, who will decide whether to follow the oul fella's bloody path.

He still makes the Hulk look like Bill Bixby, though, with a buff hobo image only missing the can of Harp.

The biggest change for series vets is a new over-the-shoulder camera that draws comparisons to The Last of Us – another Sony game where players roam dangerous lands with a young companion.

While previous GoW games were as linear as a piece of string, the latest also cribs from Lara Croft's reboot, and though there's none of your open-world sandbox malarkey, Kratos can go off-piste, poking around a wide environment for trinkets and optional bosses to ravage.

At its dirty heart, God of War still all about relieving your enemies of their bowels and spines in a Grand Guignol hack and slash-fest, with acrobatic displays of savagery and intense, fast-paced boss battles.

No longer wielding his signature double-chained blades, Kratos instead brandishes a magical battle axe that can be juiced with elemental abilities and chucked at enemies. Warrior-pimping upgrades are available while lashings of side stories (most notably starring a foul-mouthed dwarf) pad out the main event.

A technical powerhouse, Kratos himself is a marvel of binary brawn, while the wild and wanton Scandi scenery, with its snow-capped mountains and technicolour vistas, easily makes God of War one of the PS4's most shockingly handsome games.

Best of all, the whole shebang unfurls as a single, uninterrupted take, with cannily hidden loading screens selling a cinematic illusion to match the best of De Palma or Hitchcock.

A glorious throwback to when games were about manly men hurting things, God of War will easily pilfer 30 hours of your life. Best played while eating raw meat, it's a gruff, bubbling crockpot of testosterone that cocks a snook at today's gender-sensitive snowflakes. One of the PS4's best and an early contender for Game of the Year.

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