Genres: Hack + Slash
Release Date: 15/03/13
God of War Ascension – Single Player Review
Once again we join Kratos on another quest for vengeance within the realms of Greek mythology in God of War Ascension. Does this origins tale live up to the brutal trilogy made before it, where the Ghost of Sparta sought revenge upon the Gods? The answer is both yes and no. Unfortunately it’s not as simple as one or the other.
The gameplay remains pretty much the same as previous titles in the series. You hack and slash your way through your enemies using you Blades of Chaos – jagged swords that are attached to your arms with chains. The fact that it remains the same is not a surprise, though nor is it a bad thing. The game is fast paced enough that it remains exciting yet not so much that you can’t keep up. With the defeat of your enemies comes red orbs used to upgrade your blades and powers, also sometimes with green and blue orbs for health and magic respectively. With upgrading comes more combos and powers to deal out a variety of pain. A rage meter that builds the more damage you deal, without taking any in return, allows you to perform stronger attacks on top of this.
Fighting several enemies at once can get extremely frustrating when blocking; dodging doesn’t seem to be enough to avoid constant attack. This can prove even more annoying when you’re focusing on building up your rage meter! There are also times when the camera zooms out so far that you can’t see what you’re doing when fighting enemies. Now, I can appreciate that this is all part of the atmospheric camera angles that make the game feel so cinematic, but it would be nice if this happened when not in the middle of a fight so as not to get my ass kicked!
The most notable new additions to gameplay would be the use of two little items you pick up on Kratos’ journey. The Amulet of Uroborus allows you to heal or decay items, essentially letting you reconstruct the world around you to create new paths. This is where climbing comes into play in a better way than before, as you can fix a wreckage to a certain point where you can then traverse across suspended terrain before fixing it further to reach other places. Climbing plays a much bigger part in this game than any before it too, and it always looks impressive when you’re scaling gigantic obstacles.
The second item is the Oath Stone of Orkos – allowing you to create another version of yourself to solve puzzles. Both of these items can be used in combat as well to slow down foes as well as ‘multi-attack’. It’s also good to see that God of War Ascension has gone more in-depth when taking on larger enemies in combat. Once you’ve dealt enough damage to certain foes you can grab them and slice away whilst also using the stick to dodge as they swipe at you. Once you’ve hit them enough here you will then kill them in a most satisfyingly brutal fashion, be it ripping an ‘elephant-man’s’ brains out, or cutting a Gorgon’s head in half. Plus seeing Kratos covered in blood after a vicious attack looks even better than in God of War 3.
Whereas the gameplay may seem familiar, save for the few extra elements mentioned, the animation takes it to another level. We have seen cinematic battles against the Gods, and fought enemies atop giant titans as they climb Mount Olympus, but Ascension manages to take this even further. Summoning mechanical snakes and fighting atop them as they weave through ruins on snowy mountains – it’s moments like these that prove God of War games have some of the best cinematic gameplay you’ll ever see. Everything flows in and out beautifully as well when cut-scenes take place. Steering as you slide through crumbling buildings, down vertical walls as you avoid obstacles – pressing certain buttons at the right times to see your character perform fearless attacks against a mythical sea-beast, all whilst weaving through its tentacles. It’s what makes God of War games stand out in presentation above any other game.
It seems like a fairly promising experience, and for those that don’t care too much for story then this is potentially a near flawless action/adventure game. Unfortunately I expect more from Kratos’ past; even when we are given such magnificent action sequences to immerse ourselves in. The fact of the matter is that despite how great the game looks and how fun the gameplay is, the story itself is almost non-existent. I mean the prospect of yet another prequel to the series, instead of a sequel to God of War 3, didn’t have me that excited, but I was expecting a better origins tale than this. I get that Santa Monica Studios wanted to explore the mortal side of Kratos, before he became all rage and fury at the Gods, but God of War Ascension doesn’t seem to capture that well enough. I wouldn’t call this so much an origin tale as just another prequel to the prequel they already made for PSP… More often than not I find myself wondering why prequels are made when a fresh new sequel could be done instead, especially since the end of God of War 3 was left rather open as it was. You can complete this game in 8 hours, and following that there isn’t much to come back to, save the newly introduced multiplayer.
If the in-game teaser is true, and God of War IV is the next in line, then hopefully we will get a much better story with that, even if the gameplay remains mostly the same. Fans will be disappointed with this origins tale, and I would urge newcomers to play the original trilogy for a better experience. Of course this is still a good game – the animation some of the best you’ll ever see. But with its own competition to beat this God of War just falls short in the brilliance of previous entries.
- Some of the best animation around.
- Kratos covered in blood!
- Reasonably short