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God of War Ragnarok Review: Magnificent, But Less Memorable Than Its Predecessor

God of War Ragnarok puts a fierce, younger member of the family directly under the microscope. In doing so it manages to reach the heights of its predecessor and, in some ways, even tower above it

The writing, performances, and music are each exceptional, bringing this expansive Norse tapestry to life – but even as it holds your heart in one hand with its elegantly told story it’s crunching bones in the other with fantastically ferocious combat.

God of War: Ragnarök review - glorious excess makes a triumphant return |

It All Binds Together To Forge A Monumental Action Epic That Adds Yet Another Impressive Landmark To The Video Game Landscape.

Keeping things broad and spoiler-free, Kratos’ story picks up a few years after the final revelations of 2018’s God of War – this is absolutely not one of those sequels where everything will make sense without playing the first game, or at the very least watching the included story recap (which is probably too brief to serve as anything but a jolt to the memory).

The apocalyptic Ragnarok is coming, and its events circle around his son Atreus like one of Odin’s ravens. Fimbulwinter – a time of unrest that presages Ragnarok – has very much come and, during the intervening years, Atreus has been growing stronger, learning about his Giant name “Loki”, and trying to convince his father to trust him.

There are touching callbacks to the hunting scene from the 2018 God of War as Kratos proudly watches Atreus prove that he’s no longer a child. But it’s no slow introduction: Ragnarok wastes no time in stepping into the action and, after a breakneck opening battle, the first step of this new journey is to leave the frozen realm of Midgard and find a missing Norse god in the broader and varied universe.

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God Of War Ragnarok Preview

It may not be as tightly told a story as 2018’s, but Ragnarok has much grander designs.

This is a sprawling epic that always keeps things on the move without ever becoming disorientating, gluing me to the edge of my seat as it repeatedly toyed with expectations.

It’s an ambition regularly met by stunning execution, with a momentum that never slips as you hurtle towards its bombastic ending. This journey took me just over 28 hours with a few fair side quests completed along the way, but with plenty still left to do afterward.

Prophecy and sacrifice swirl at the story’s center as it repeatedly prods at the concept of destiny and whether blood runs thicker than the ink that pens it. It doesn’t merely offer up surface-level readings of these themes; instead, each character and their motives are given the respect they deserve by delving in deep. It’s a truly special and fittingly grand conclusion of Kratos’ Norse saga, as well as providing resolution to some of his more troubled Greek memories.

It’s A Truly Special And Fittingly Grand Conclusion Of Kratos’ Norse Saga.

When not eating dinner, Kratos’ thunderous voice actor Christopher Judge frequently engages in smartly realized dialogue with his equally impressive castmates.

Make no mistake, though: this is firmly Judge’s court and one he frequently dominates. Kratos’ traumatic personal history is reflected in everything from his mournful tone of voice to his appearance – his Icarus wings are long since clipped, but his complexion is still pale like a square of the wall where a family portrait used to hang.

Also returning is composer Bear McCreary, whose score – like the dwarven smith brothers – goes hammer and tongs from the first moment to the last.

There’s some truly beautiful music to be heard along the journey, as well as explosions of raw orchestral power during intense fight scenes.

The artistry bursting from every seam is astonishing – even when running in the high frame-rate favoring Performance mode – with excellent costume and world design on show.

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Final Review

Ragnarok is incredibly well polished, with little details from the etchings on a dagger to the clunk of a cupboard door closing showing,g love.

It’s expertly animated, with saliva-sputtering grimaces launching towards the lens during the heat of battle, and hair flowing realistically on Kratos’ less-follically challenged enemies.

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