Sony Santa Monica have established themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the gaming industry. A studio that is known for lending its abilities to other Sony developers, we get the sense that they are 100% behind the PlayStation brand and towards pushing it forward as a whole, but does this mean that their own titles suffer from them helping out on other projects at the same time. Well I’d like think it wouldn’t, but after playing God Of War: Ascension I feel like there is a lot missing from this it and preventing me saying that this is a perfect entry they are known for making in the God Of War saga.
The game starts you off from the exact place that the demo is taken from. Kratos is imprisoned by a trio of sisters known as the Furies. The Furies are three demons that serve Ares, and they are tasked with imprisoning and punishing those who break the oath made with a god. They say death is more of a reward for those whom defy a God.
Throughout the game you will need to pay attention to the time skips that the segmented story utilizes; you start off in the present, then you delve 3 weeks into the past, then you jump forward once again and back again. There is a point when you will just want to get through the game to just enjoy the combat and the spectacular visuals. Even with the unnecessary headache the time skips cause, story is short, rounding to about 7 to 8 hours of play time on the normal difficulty.
The game does start to hit its stride once approaching the end; I enjoyed the final cut scenes that seemed to explain more about the Furies even though you were on the verge of finishing the game. The game is a prequel to the main trilogy, so I was expecting to find out more about Kratos and his past. Unfortunately not enough is explained, and God of War: Ascension seems content to concentrate more on the spectacular visuals and deep combat system.
Have you played God Of War before? Well then you won’t be taken by too much surprise here. The game has added some needed improvements, but some flaws creep up too. The series has always been about making you feel like a bad-ass and Ascension is no different. Straight off the bat you are going toe to toe with one of the Furies that uses her ability to infect a hecatoncheires (yes, that is the name of this overwhelmingly huge boss). The scale is just beyond anything I’ve ever had to fight in a game, and anything close to this scale has never performed as well as the opening boss does.
You will find that some changes may throw off your previous tactics; grappling is now assigned to R1 and the opening frames prevent enemy damage. Another thing to keep in mind is that if you are button mashing and want to dodge-cancel your combo, you will find yourself locked in animation once you have went too far into a combo. This will be a hard factor to get accustomed to at first, but it will make you strategize more as you progress through the game.
Quick Time Events are back and are improved. They make you feel like a god as Kratos takes down the vast amounts of bosses and minions he encounters. Also, analog stick movements have been scaled back in these, which is a much welcomed improvement. The QTE movements were the weakest part of the combos and always would ruin the sadistic satisfaction given from ripping off the limes of a goat man.
God Of War: Ascension gets my SSS approval: Stylish, Spectacular, and Stunning. I could just leave it at that, but you expect more from me and I’m happy to give it. The God Of War series never took a half assed approach to overwhelming ideas. The idea of it can’t be done was something that never wanted to hear in the Santa Monica office. I’m sure it was, “make it work and make it work better”.
The game has you taking time to stand back and just look around and take a big breath due to the scale and realistic view you are given. While the enemies are fully fleshed out in their look and feel, I just wish there was a little more variety in the game. The enemy designs are based off of the powers of the Furies, so the fact that there is only three furies limits variety.
God of War: Ascension is always helping you remember to take full advantage of all of Krato’s tools, and to keep an eye out when exploring. If your not looking for Gorgon Eyes and Phoenix Feathers along the way, while upgrading your blades and magic, you will be setting yourself up for a difficult time ahead. I have always been a huge fan of the Blades Of Chaos since the first game and when I heard it was really your only weapon I found myself getting more excited. Half way through the game I found the game become more and more punishing, and encounters were not as fun. Once I started using upgrades, items found in the environment, and using more combos the game really opened up, and made the last few hours run well and leaving you wanting more.
It does not take you long to become accustomed to what you have to do in God Of War: Ascension. Whether it is solving puzzles to grinding down the side of a wall to avoid on coming debris, the game is exciting. The only thing I feel they could have work on, and I’m not alone here, is the platforming sections. Cheap deaths, out lashes, and bad camera positioning still plagues the platforming since the beginning of the franchise. At times Kratos just feels like the base layer of AI that they haven’t fully fleshed out yet.
Now on to the most surprising part of the review. It was announced early on in its development that the goal was to implement a third person action multiplayer element to God Of War: Ascension. When I first heard this I immediately felt worry. The mechanic’s of God Of War has always been fast paced action, how can this work over an internet connection that will run into server issues and lag? So I said I’d wait and see on this before casting judgement.
I’m pleased to say that since playing the beta and now playing a full retail version of the game I love the online multiplayer mode Santa Monica has developed. You forget you are playing against player driven characters that it plays that well and at no parts do you feel like you were cheated out of a kill. This is an addictively fun mode that even without the attraction of online trophies. There is only one online trophy and y the tutorial and only requires the basic one not the full one.
God Of War Ascension is appealing to the God Of War fan boy. If you never played any of the games before this, its not going to be the game that gets you hocked. Try God Of War 3 if this is what your looking for and then get all the rest cause once your hocked, you are hocked. Playing Ascension made me want to boot up the first game again now that it’s available on PS Plus and is in HD. If you want to experience a great online 3rd person action game, this has you covered.
This review is based on a final copy of the game provided by Sony Ireland