Though this adventure updates much of the franchise's iconic gameplay, it does so in a way that maintains everything great about the mature series. While God of War tries to show an older, more mature Kratos who has attempted to move past his younger, angrier days, he quickly finds himself dragged back into fighting with gods when his wife dies and he's left to raise his son alone. Which, as usual with this series, involves lots of exploring, a bunch of rock climbing, and a whole lot of smacking monsters in the head and chest with sharp instruments. It also means a spike in brutal enemy destruction, because Kratos is particularly creative when it comes to killing opponents. From impaling monsters to literally ripping a creature's face off with his bare hands, there's no stop to the brutality once you start the adventure.
This installment makes a number of notable gameplay changes. Initially, they might seem like minor adjustments, but their inclusion radically revitalizes the franchise's action. The tweaks include a new over-the-shoulder perspective, a player-controlled camera, and a hearty axe that not only can slice and dice with the best of them, but also can be thrown. Even cooler (no pun intended), the axe can freeze some enemies in place, and it can 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 more easily. 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 make God of War not just the most compelling entry in this series since 2008's Chains of Olympus, but also one of the most engaging action games released.