The God of War Ragnarok review is based on the PlayStation 5 version of Sony Santa Monica’s work but we could not fail to consider the PS4 one as well. On the other hand, by the same admission of the insiders, the new journey of Kratos and Atreus was designed from the beginning for the hardware of the last generation, with the developers who gave their all to fully exploit its potential.
Well, we can say without fear of denial that the “old-gen” incarnation of the adventure offers a great visual spectacle that, net of some compromises, certainly finds a place among the most effective ever on the platform released in the now far away 2013. And now no more chatter: it’s time to go to the snowy lands of Midgard, now overwhelmed by the perennial frost of the Fimbulwinter.
The beauty of the Nine Kingdoms
From the very first moments of the game, with the campfire that – crackling – illuminates the tired face of the one who was once known as the Phantom of Sparta, God of War Ragnarok proudly shows his muscles in terms of visual presentation: the wrinkles of the face of Kratos, the splendid facial animations and the same lighting, which faithfully reproduces the behavior of natural light, give the principle of the long sequence shot an artistic and communicative value with few equals.
Then, it is clear, the 1080p resolution blends the contours of the beard hair, while the fur and other constituent elements of the warrior’s clothing do not appear defined as on PlayStation 5 but the overall impact of the image is such as to fully capture the attention of the player, so that this does not linger long on the individual elements that compose it.
As for the many characters at the center of the events narrated, we have found some more detailed and refined than others but, once again, the models with more marked qualitative differences than that of the bearded protagonist are still based on a character design. of unquestionable effectiveness, which brings them perfectly into the world they inhabit. Even when the control of the action passes to the player, who is called to explore the varied environments of the Nine Kingdoms, the pleasantness of the experience is not in the least affected by the possible hiccups of the hardware. Take Svartalfheim, the majestic kingdom of the dwarves, for example. Flying over the rendering of the water, certainly not as refined as that of the PlayStation 5 version, or on some simplifications in terms of texture mapping, the beating sun colors the rocky terrain orange and brings out the wet effect of the wooden planks, not failing to make the panoramic views and the boat sections even more evocative, which allow you to observe generous portions of the scenery. On the front of the management of reflections – it can be seen for example on the shiny floors of Sindri’s house – compromises are not lacking but since a good part of the game world does not have reflective surfaces, we are talking about a very relative problem.
Fights to the death and compromises
The playful recipe is composed not only of walks and puzzles: like and more than its predecessor God of War, Ragnarok offers intense clashes, which are fought facing a large and well-diversified bestiary. Whether it unleashes the flaming Blades of Chaos or the mighty Ax of Leviathan, it doesn’t matter.
The Spartan’s dance of death is based on a superfine animation sector, which includes brutal executions and generous gushes of blood. The reduced definition of the image tends to “turn off” some particle effects a little, but among the sensations returned by the single blows inflicted – also thanks to the excellent sound of the clashes – the movements of the protagonists and the convincing reactions of the enemies to the blows, the pleasantness of battle remains unchanged.
The real renunciation linked to the basic PS4 version of the game is certainly the lack of the setting to enhance the performance, with the frame rate that essentially does not exceed the threshold of 30 frames per second. On the PlayStation 4 Pro, on the other hand, a solution with an unlocked frame rate is available, which goes beyond 30 fps against a resolution that fluctuates between 1080p and 1656p.
Also worth mentioning is the mode that favors image quality, which offers a target of 30 fps and a resolution that fluctuates between 1440p and 1656p. That said, during our journey we didn’t encounter any noticeable fluctuations in terms of fluidity, reflecting the excellent work done by the guys at Sony Santa Monica in optimizing the play experience on the base PlayStation 4. Accompanied by a soundtrack signed by a bear McCreary in great shape, the events narrated in God of War Ragnarok boast a high-profile audio sector, which makes the fights more adrenaline and the exploration more enveloping, among the icy winds. of Fimbulwinter, the verses of fatigue and an excellent dubbing in Italian (which however does not reach the heights of the original interpretations). We could only once again praise the development team for managing the uploads, which once in the game occur in the “behind the scenes”, thanks to the level design solutions designed not to break the magic. To resume the journey from the main menu in this regard it takes on average just over thirty seconds, an acceptable time considering the “uninterrupted” adventure offered to players.