Sony Santa Monica‘s established itself as a force to be reckoned with in the gaming industry. A studio 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. I’d like think it wouldn’t, but after playing God Of War: Ascension, I can’t help but feel like there’s still a lot missing here, making it fall short of the perfect God Of War games they’re known for.
The game starts you off from the exact place that the demo’s taken from. Kratos is imprisoned by a trio of sisters known as the Furies: three demons that serve Ares and tasked with imprisoning and punishing those who break the oath made with a god. They say death’s more of a reward for those whom defy a God. They obviously just met Kratos.
Throughout the game, you’ll need to pay attention to the time skips that the segmented story utilizes; you start off in the present, then you delve three weeks into the past, then you jump forward once again and back again. There’s 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 seven to eight hours of play time on normal difficulty.
The game starts to hit its stride once it reaches 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. As a prequel to the main trilogy, I was expecting to find out more about Kratos and his past from Ascension. Unfortunately, not enough’s explained and Ascension seems content to concentrate more on its 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’s added some needed improvements, but some flaws creep up too. The series has always been about making you feel like a badass and Ascension‘s no different. Straight off the bat, you’re going toe-to-toe with one of the Furies that uses her ability to infect a hecatoncheires (yes, that’s the name of this overwhelmingly huge boss). The scale’s beyond anything I’ve ever had to fight in a game and anything close to it never performed as well as the opening boss does.
You’ll 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’s that if you’re button mashing and want to dodge-cancel your combo, you’ll find yourself locked in animation once you have went too far into a combo. This’ll be a hard factor to get accustomed to at first, but it’ll make you strategize more as you progress through the game.
Quick Time Events are back and are improved, making you feel like a god as Kratos takes down the vast amounts of bosses and minions he encounters. Aanalog stick movements have been scaled back in these and another 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.
If nothing else, Ascension does get 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 has never taken a half-assed approach to its big ideas and the thought that they couldn’t done was something I’m sure no one ever wanted to hear in the Santa Monica office. I’m sure that “make it work and make it work better” was said more often than not.
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.
Ascension’s 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 Ascension. Whether it’s 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.
It was announced early on in its development that Ascension‘s goal was to implement a third person action multiplayer element. When I first heard about it, I immediately began to worry. God of War’s action mechanics have always felt fast-paced, so how could this even work over internet connections running into server issues and lag? So I said I’d wait and see on this before passing judgement.
I’m pleased to say that since playing the beta and now playing a full retail version of the game, I’m in love with the online multiplayer mode Santa Monica’s made. It plays so well that you forget you’re even playing against player-controlled characters and at no time do you feel like you’re ever cheated out of a kill. This is an addictively fun mode that even without the attraction of online trophies.
God Of War Ascension’s appealing to any 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 III if this is what your looking for and then get all the rest cause once your hocked, you are hocked. Playing Ascension even made me want to boot up the first game again now that it’s available on PS Plus and in HD. If you want to experience a great online, third-person action game, this is for you.
This review is based on a final copy of the game provided by Sony Ireland