The new God of War game about to be released on PlayStation 4 is, according to many reviews, the best of the series.
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It's the twelfth entry in the franchise and the first to reach a Metacritic rating of 94 percent since the 2005 original.
Since the review embargo lifted overnight, critics have been praising the game's stronger emphasis on character development and its new combat system.
"A thrilling journey in which every aspect of it complements the others to form what is nothing short of a masterpiece," writes Jonathon Dornbush for IGN.
"The obvious care that went into crafting its world, characters, and gameplay delivers by far the most stirring and memorable game in the series."
Matt Gerardi at the AV Club praises the God of War for being a grown-up version of previous releases.
"It's a transformative, introspective sequel, taking up the Herculean task of shunting a series that, for as thrilling as its spectacle was, epitomised an embarrassing adolescent phase of games into something resembling actual maturity," says Gerardi.
Chris Kohler is less glowing in his Kotaku review. He calls God of War "a pastiche of ideas", while admitting he enjoyed the "innovative and varied combat system".
"It's a little bit Witcher, a little bit Dark Souls, a little bit The Last Of Us, and a little bit old-school God of War," writes Kohler.
"But they are good ideas, done well enough to bring a once-stale series back up from the depths of Helheim."
Generally, however, critics are extremely positive.
"It's rare to play a game so accomplished in everything it sets out to do," writes Keza MacDonald for The Guardian.
"God of War is a standard-setter both technologically and narratively. It is a game that, until recently, would have been impossible."
Other published reviews from major publications include:
- GameSpot - 9 / 10
- Game Informer - 975 / 1000
- Polygon - 10 / 10
- The Telegraph - 5 / 5
- Destructoid - 10 / 10
- Slant Magazine - 45 / 50
God of War will be released in New Zealand on April 20.