I would consider myself a huge God of War fan, I had own and beaten the entire series at least 3 times over. I was a big fan of Greek Myths and the set up where you could just kill cyclops as well as other mythological creatures with your bare hands was a great set up. The series which was original created by David Jaffe was a huge hit with Sony and gave the the console it’s biggest bad ass.
The God of War Saga which consisted of 5 games, will go down as classics in books and really brought the series to a closure. However that isn’t the case with Sony as they decided to bring Kratos back for another round, this time putting you in the timeline of when Kratos decided to break the blood oath with Ares. The only question is if this side of the story really needs to be told?
Unlike the other God of War titles, the game starts with a epic pre-story about the creation of the world and the rise of the Furies, 3 sisters who punish those who dishonor their oaths. When the game first starts, Kratos finds himself locked up in the Prison of the Damned, a jail made from the living remains of the Hecatonchires, Aegaeon. As Kratos fights his way through the prison, the story of how he got there is told in flash backs of his time in the village of Kirra, the city of Delphi, and the island of Delos. Each local finding a new item to help him fight the Furies.
Right off the bat, the Ascension feels different, and at first this is a good thing. It still keeps the big first boss battle that caught our attention from the first game onward, but this time it gives us an illusion of a better storytelling which the series could have used. However the way it is presented actually hurts the story as there is a lot of back and forth happening throughout the game, making it seem strange that Kratos is collecting strange new powers to use in both the past and present. I believe the story could have been much better if they kept to the God of War story telling tradition of keeping it focused on a Point A to Point B style similar to the first 3 titles.
But of course who actually plays God of War for it’s story, God of War series main focus is combat. The series has been so successful with this that it inspired several other brawlers like it including Dante’s Inferno and Bayonetta. One would assume that Ascension, being the 6th game in the series, would take this to heart and make the biggest baddest combat system yet. Well, not exactly.
After 5 games of the controls being exactly the same, we can be excused for a drastic change in the controls being a downside to the games combat. With the new introduction of the melee attack and side weapons which include swords, hammers and spears, the grapple button goes to the R1 trigger which causes some problems to those playing the series since the first. The new melee weapons are not as great as they sound either, as I’ve used each one of the weapons at least once and never again as the returning Blades of Chaos were enough to cause damage to the enemies.
The main problem I had with the brawler gameplay was the new introduction of the elemental powers which features fire, lighting, ice and soul, all based around the 4 gods seen in multiplayer (Ares, Zeus, Poseidon, Hades.) These powers are supposed to create status effects and special magic to equip onto the Blades of Chaos and can be found in the second level of the game (aka your first flashback which makes the rest of the game not make any sense as of why he suddenly forgot how to use the blades powers.) These powers have next to no effect unless your rage mode is active, aside from that they are supposed to allow you to guard and cause elemental effects on the opponents. This however does not work.
The new Graphics engine however is astonishing, it’s the first time that Kratos’ skin actually looks like it is cover in ash and as usual, the character, monster and level design are all impressive and imaginative. This game is hands down one of the best looking games on the PS3 and is a great contender for the best graphics of the year already.
Now just because I didn’t really care for the single player that much doesn’t mean it’s all bad, the game includes a really strong multiplayer element, a first for the series. Multiplayer is featured as a character that was stuck in the Prison of the Damned, rescued by Kratos and the Gods. The you must decide what god you want to align yourself with, each includes different stats and magic for your character. Then you get thrown in an all out brawl against other players.
The new combat system works extremely well for multiplayer over Kratos’ story, for the fact that they are limited to a sword, hammer or spear as their basic weapon, the side weapons give a change of pace and actually in time deliver a more damaging blow to your opponent. Along with a stamina bar to balance bigger multi-hit moves and combo breaker style attack, the multiplayer is quite balanced. Various different modes are available from the standard team deathmatch, one on one battles, free-for-all, and a special co-op mode which allows you to fight multiple creatures together, or solo if your so inclined.
If anything there is one problem with the multiplayer and that is that it’s too easy to max out a god’s alignment. After a few hours of play, you can max out a god level (Level 30) you have gotten everything you need from that god, with no way of rebooting your level for more loot like in other multiplayer giants like Call of Duty.
God of War Ascension is not a bad game, it’s one of the better 3D brawlers to come out for a while. However it is the weakest of the big name titles, and it is definitely the weakest of the God of War series. If you a hard core God of War fan, you might find some value out of this story, however if your new to the series, pick up the God of War Saga, you’ll have a much better time.