Developer(s): SCE Santa Monica Studio
Publisher(s): Sony Computer Entertainment
Release Date: US – March 12th 2013, EU – March 15th 2013
God of War has been one of Sony’s biggest named games for years and now the 6th installment takes players back to a time before God of War 1. I don’t think any game will be able to match the epic impact that God of War 3 opens up with, but God of War Ascension does its best to stay true to its nature.
After Kratos breaks his blood oath with Ares he becomes targeted by the three demonic sisters known as the Furies. Kratos starts out being tortured by one of the furies, Megaera, but she accidentally facilitates his freedom. This leads into what is essentially a number of QTE moments and whilst this is a rather impressive opening, it unfortunately doesn’t hold a candle to its predecessor. However the set pieces and visual presentation of The Prison of the Damned are stunning and whilst they might not compare to God of War 3, they are impressive nonetheless.
The combat in Ascension maintains a rather slick appeal with the wide range of available weapons and abilities. You can seamlessly switch between your different weapon types which leads to some awesome combos. Combat is fast and fluid and is occasionally matched with a new type of QTE, where instead of just hammering your opponent in a brutal fashion, they will actually fight back and can stop the QTE all together.
One of the big changes regarding the weapons in Ascension is the fact that you don’t really acquire new ones. Instead you will find bowls along your journey which Kratos simply slams his Blades of Chaos in and absorbs whatever power you have found. These cover the same elements from the Gods in God of War 3, you have fire, ice, electric and soul. These can all be leveled up and grant me combos and magical abilities, they can even be switched mid combo for some extremely effective maneuvers. My one problem with the new weapon system is I just don’t feel like I have earned them. I have ripped apart the very God of that power and taken his weapon for myself, you simply find them randomly along your journey.
These different weapon types all have their own unique advantages, for example if you vaporize your enemies with Hades element equipped they will reward you with green orbs, lighting will offer blue orbs. This means you can strategically plan what you need to replenish in game and switch to that weapon.
Magic is vastly powerful in Ascension and it is a lot further down your weapon talent tree, these can lead to some devastating area of effect damage. This is matched with the new Rage system, as you damage enemies you will fill your rage bar, once full you will have an advanced power in whichever weapon you are currently using. The rage bar can also be unleashed for a devastating attack, however this isn’t very easy to keep up when on harder difficulties.
There are also world weapons that can be found throughout the game, you can only carry one at a time and you can throw them away if you wish. These range from Spears, swords, shields etc and they lend a helping hand to some of your more complex combos. These weapons are limited use for the most part but they will help in certain situations.
Later in the game you will also have a chance to use weapons such as the Amulet of Uroborus, which allows you to alter time, healing or decaying past sections of the world you are in. This can also be used in combat holding your enemies still in time for a brief amount of time. There are only two weapons like this but they do lend a hand to some of the more challenging parts of the game later on.
God of War games have always had a name for being difficult, there are always challenging moments and the harder difficulties really separates the men from the boys. Ascension is no different, it is brutally hard on hard difficulty and it will require a steep learning curve to beat. The one thing that is noticeable about Ascension is the AI, these guys are unrelenting and they will happily gang up on you, not matter how many there are. Imagine you are playing Assassins creed, when you are fighting say eight different enemies, one will attack you whilst the others almost stand around and watch. Well in God of War Ascension they will all jump on you, no mercy.
There is one particular part in one of the later chapters called, the Trials of Archimedes – This has got to be one of the most ridiculous challenges I have ever done in my life. Especially on hard difficulty because there are wave after wave of tough enemies, with no checkpoints, health or anything for that matter. Sony Santa Monica have even said they will be patching the section because it is “too hard”. So if you want a stern challenge I suggest you give it a go before they patch it, the sense of achievement is enough to make you feel like you have just beaten all of the Gods all over again.
It is not all good news though because Ascension does have some issues which have to be addressed. Whilst God of War games have never allowed you to control the camera angels, which to be honest isn’t a problem because they do it so well, there are problems in Ascension. Sometimes the camera will pan out so far so you can see this huge set piece, but that is so annoying when you are fighting a load of enemies and you suddenly can’t see what you are doing. Is just seems odd that they would hinder you here, also there where a couple of bugs, mainly when executing certain enemies. These small issues aside don’t take away anything from your experience with this game.
The story in Ascension is certainly weaker than its predecessor, not just because you aren’t killing every God in Olympus, but they just don’t really explain what is going on until later in the game. This is still the same old Kratos that we all know and love, but the Furies just don’t do the game enough justice and whilst there are some great scenes between these guys, the spark just wasn’t quiet there. All that being said, I loved every minute of ripping people apart with Kratos and I think that it was Ascension does so well, you feel powerful and you feel like you could take on anyone. The whole game looks amazing, I really don’t know how they do it to be honest with you, how can a PlayStation 3 game look this good?
Usually that would be a wrap with God of War, but this time we have multiplayer! Now before I say anything on this, if you played the Beta or anything demos for this multiplayer and you are weighing up buying this game on that, go get it. They have made significant improvements to the multiplayer and truly listened to fan feedback from the Beta which is great to see. With a small segway into the multiplayer from the main story, players chose their alligence with one of the Gods, each God gives different bonuses and special abilities so choose wisely.
They have made multiplayer very unique compared to the campaign, for example they have made it so players will flash red when executing an unblock-able attack, or blue when they are recovering from a special attack. They also make you aware when an opponent can be grappled with a white halo over their head. These small effects are so well thought out, because in the original Beta things just got a little too crazy and you couldn’t really tell what was going on when it ended up being 4 vs 4. Now there is structure and it helps you enjoy the multiplayer experience.
God of War: Ascension may not live up to the beast that is God of War 3, but it defines itself as a worthy purchase along side the series. With a new and innovative multiplayer, players will find hours a carnage to be had here and it certainly deserves a place on your shelf.