PlayStation 3 Reviews

Review: God of War: Ascension – Kratos Is Back, But Is He Better Than Ever?

Written by Kaleb Steenmeyer

The mighty Spartan warrior Kratos has returned! This time however, he is not on a warpath to exact revenge and bring about the destruction of Mount Olympus. Rather, God of War Ascension is the story about the beginning of the hardships and woes of our fearless hero, though you may not know that because it is easy to feel ‘not quite up to speed’ by the end of the opening cinematic; this tale seems to start midstride. Taking place over an entirely different storyline than the familiar journey of its predecessors, Ascension is able to use enough recognizable elements from the GOW saga to tie everything together, while maintaining the exciting combat, challenging puzzles, and grand level design that we have all become accustomed to over the years. True fans and followers of the series however, may want to brace themselves for a possible let down from Kratos’ newest adventure.

God Of War Ascension 3Ascension delivers the typical formula that you have come to expect. From the insane boss fights, all the way to the tense minigame challenges. It’s safe to say that it’s right on par with God of War 3. Yet, that’s almost all you can say about the single player campaign. The gameplay is virtually the same as every other GOW. The reinvented story, while trying to stay original yet incorporating familiar themes at the same time, falls short of the legacy from whence it came. Ascension also boasts very few new additions to overall gameplay and even fewer surprises in regards to the single player campaign. One of the only ones worth mentioning is the new ‘slide’ segments, which are exactly like they sound. Slide, steer, leap over gaps, and keep sliding. The search for chests, orbs, and artifacts offers nothing new for the player, which has become a little monotonous after five games. It almost seems like the levels have been distilled down even further, almost eliminating any exploration. For example: you will never get lost or go the wrong way, if you do, it means you have found a hidden chest. The climbing, which was a big element throughout the entire series, is so simple now that you are unable to move in any direction except the predetermined path. Although there are incredibly epic moments, and edge of your seat action throughout, the single player mode fails to capitalize on this amazing opportunity to reinvent old elements and introduce new ones. There is however, a new category in which Ascension does absolutely shine!

That new feature is the welcome induction into the online multiplayer arena. Friends can now battle with or against each other in the GOW universe, and it doesn’t disappoint. It starts with a unique multiplayer tutorial that familiarizes you with online combat controls and techniques, while also facing you with the choice of which God you will align yourself. This choice will determine which one of the three weapon types you will start with, as well as what attributes your character will specialize in. The combat styles and new weapons are a refreshing break from the Blades of Chaos, as that is the only main weapon that you will have during your single player campaign, with only small variations based on elemental properties.

God Of War Ascension 2

Another unique and fun feature about GOW multiplayer, are the level based traps, strategically placed in key positions throughout the map, used to obliterate your unsuspecting foes as well as defend your teams objectives. Traps include, pouring liquid hot magma on an enemy whilst they attempt to capture your flag, or launching flaming projectiles from an off screen location. The combat and upgradable moves/powers are exactly what you would hope for, and leave a lot of room to evolve your playing styles. It is an absolute blast, not to mention incredibly gratifying, to achieve the small cinematic kill sequences known as ‘brutal kills’ against other live opponents. The multiplayer maps are just as epic as they are fun. Almost all of them include some sort of fantastic interactive feature, such as immense monsters in the background that will punish unaware travelers but can eventually be destroyed or unleashed. The maps range in size from miniscule levels for the all out deathmatches, all the way up to some rather large and elaborate arenas for other game types such as capture the flag and the new and more popular multi-objective-based mode: Favor of the Gods.

god of war ascension 4Favor of the Gods can be played with either teams of two on two, or teams of four on four. Which seems like a small detail, but can make a huge difference in your enjoyment and experience. Victory in Favor of the Gods can be achieved through multiple facets, the most obvious of which is just slaying the opposing team members. If however, you are not quite adept at your combat skills, you can take the explorer approach and earn more points for your team by locating and opening chests throughout the map. The chests do periodically respawn, allowing someone to be the highest scoring player on a team without even earning a kill. There is also the objective aspect, which is best described as a ‘domination’ element. Various stationary points on the map can be captured by a team and held until an enemy is able to re-capture it. Almost all of which feature the aforementioned traps somewhere nearby for defense. All of that, combined with the unique level interactions, makes Favor of the Gods one of the freshest and most well rounded multiplayer game modes out there.

Overall, God of War Ascension is a solid game. For fans of the series it will provide just as much fun and entertainment as every other installment before it. For those new to GOW, be prepared to have your mind blown in a truly epic way. An average single player campaign, conservatively on normal difficulty, will take most players less than fifteen hours to complete. For trophy hunters and completionists, you will get a little more bang for your buck by doing multiple playthroughs, either using the game plus mode available upon completion, or testing your skills on hard or Titan difficulties. The new multiplayer addition is what gives this title its true replay value. For the casual gamer not interested in exploring the limits of their patience on Titan mode, or ranking up their Champion in multiplayer, then you may be better off renting or borrowing a copy from a friend and just having some fun with Kratos for a few days, which you absolutely will.

[checklist]The Good

  • The new multiplayer adds a fresh element
[/checklist][badlist]The Bad

  • Single player has gotten redundant

[button color=”green” link=””]Recommended[/button] Recommended:  Recommended games are not held in the same esteem as those of a Must Play. A game that receives a “Recommended” is one that you certainly will enjoy playing, and our editor recommends that you do, but it may have a few problems that stop it from being the type of game you have to have right that instant. Example: Halo 4, Saints Row 4

About the author

Kaleb Steenmeyer

Reader, writer, gamer. Hungry for knowledge, and thirsty for a good debate. Ready to learn, grow, and share with all sources, so feedback is welcome. Come chat me up on twitter @Marada1740, or come play online with me on PSN, also at Marada1740.

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