God of War Ascension Review

God of War AscensionGod of War Ascension (Available exclusively on PlayStation 3)
ESRB Rating: M
Number of Players: 1 to 8
Genre: Action
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: SCE Santa Monica Studios
Release Date: March 12th, 2013

Parent Talk: Like all the games in the series, this one has been rated M (17+) for mature because of blood and gore, intense violence, nudity, and sexual content. It’s one of the most gory and adult-themed games on the market and shouldn’t be played by anyone under the recommended age group.

Plays Like: God of War Ascension marks Kratos’ sixth adventure (seven if you include the mobile-only Betrayal) and it’s safe to say that if you’ve played one, you’ve played them all. The series features a mix of intense action, focused on a variety of simple button combinations and clever puzzles. The epic scale and fury is what keeps players constantly coming back for more.

Review Basis: Finished the single player campaign and tried my hand at the new multiplayer mode.

Let’s all admit one thing right here and now. The God of War series is an incredible franchise, only problem is that it had a very clear path. Kratos wanted revenge for the death of his family, and he got his revenge by killing off countless gods of Olympus. So what’s a world renown publisher to do with their multimillion selling series when it’s run its course? Figure out a way to squeeze more milk out of it. The end result is a game that while technically impressive and a joy to play through simply isn’t as exciting or invigorating as the previous entries in the series.

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The Great:

As is almost always the case with this series, the absolute best element in Ascension is the incredible sense of scale. Kratos is only a man, a man in a world of stunningly impressive structures. From statues the size of mountains to enemies that can destroy cities, there’s nothing this game won’t throw at you. Traversing vast environments are always the biggest highlight this series provides, and this one is no different.

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The Good:

+ The same excellent combat returns, including the super violence beheadings, dismemberments and more. The classic quick time button events are also back, although they aren’t used quite as often as before.

+ Quick time events aren’t the only means to obliterate your foes. A new system allows players the freedom to go to town as they see fit, only focusing on dodging instead of a series of button presses. By dodging an attack enough time and keeping up your constant flurry of attack, you can perform a super move which rips your enemy in half, or some other pleasant way of dealing with them.

+ As players progress through the game more difficult battles will challenge their ability to keep up a steady combo rotation, as well as master dodging. Some enemies will force players to use different elemental attacks, such as to stun an enemy before their weak-spot opens up for attack.

+ New secondary weapon system allows Kratos to use weapons he finds scattered all over the world. These weapons change his play style dramatically and allow players to mix and match different techniques to the standard Blades of Chaos.

+ Puzzles return, and while they start off relatively easy, they eventually become true brain teasers. The ratio of puzzles to action set pieces feels much more refined this time around, and I never felt the pacing was suffering as a result of trying to solve a puzzle.

+ The audio visual presentation is absolutely outstanding. From an incredible soundtrack, to killer voice acting and great special effects to one of the best visual experiences you can have on the PS3, Ascension is a joy to the senses.

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The So-So:

+/- The story takes place 10 years before the events of the original God of War, and provides a change of pace for the Ghost of Sparta. The problem with that is his rage has yet to be fueled and as such just isn’t as interesting a character as you remember him to be.

+/- The multiplayer mode is largely forgettable, but long-time fans may appreciate the diversion. While there are a variety of different modes, most play out in a arena where eight players or fewer try to destroy each other, open treasure chests, and more. Action is greatly slowed down from the single player campaign to allow others to dodge attacks and to try and balance the action. In the end I found the multiplayer nothing more than a neat little extra.

The Bad:

– Platforming sections, while not plentiful, are annoying because of cumbersome camera angles. Often I felt they were going on far longer than they should, and that I was falling to my death for no reason whatsoever.

The Ugly:

The bodies of all of Kratos’ victims over the years. In this game alone he mercilessly kills thousands, all thanks to you, sicko!

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The Lowdown:

The God of War series is going through series fatigue right now. It’s to be expected. A new entry in the series has come out more or less every two years since the original game was released back in 2005. The formula has proven extremely successful for Sony and no doubt the series will continue for many years to come. That being said, it’s time to let Kratos go on a nice four year vacation. Let the developers build up anticipation, and let some new ideas come to the surface. Ascension is an excellent game that’s worth playing for fans of the series, but it fails to capture the essence of what makes this series so awesome, the rage of Kratos and what it’s like to go up against all the Olympian gods.

Final Score: 8/10

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