Thursday, 9 January 2014

Review: God of War Ascension (PS3)

The angriest man in gaming returns once more in his third prequel to the original God of war on PlayStation 2.  Ascension is essentially the beginning of Kratos' journey for revenge against the current god of war Ares.

Being this is a sort of origin of the origin story Kratos has recently broken his oath to Ares and for this betrayal he has been attacked and imprisoned by the furies, a trio of primordial sisters who work for the gods of Olympus as jailers of sorts.  The game kicks off with a weakened Kratos in the massive prison made literally from the titan Hecatoncheires.  Not long after our brief introduction Kratos escapes his bonds and sets out to rid himself of the furies and learn the truth about his oath to Ares.

Character models are gorgeous to look at
The gameplay is near unchanged, scratch that it is completely unchanged from God of war 3 with only a few minor game mechanics being added or altered to fit the narrative.  This isn't really a negative since the gameplay of God of war is extremely basic and if you enjoyed the previous games then this won't be a problem for you.  However if you were looking for some new combat additions you will be disappointed somewhat. 

The basic light, heavy combinations work just as well with the addition of magic every now and then to keep the crowd at bay.  Larger monsters still put up more of a varied struggle and the evisceration mini games are still cool to see for the first time.  They have added a new minor addition to these kill sequences with the player hammering the attack button to slice open the skull of a elephantaur, you will be required to move the analogue stick to avoid attacks by the prone monster to continue your kill.

On the other side of the gameplay spectrum Ascension continues the God of war tradition of puzzles and death traps ably enough.  New mechanics such as using a Kratos doppleganger to hold chain switches and a time reversal mechanic become a big part of the games puzzles.  There are some interesting uses for the time reversal mechanic here and there and it certainly looks cool to see a massive statue rebuild itself but it has little use in combat.

The boss battles are still there and just as massive as usual with entire sections of the level attacking you or being part of titanic multi-part fights.  They don't have the same level of grandeur as God of War 3 but they still look incredibly cool and the work put into the set pieces can be appreciated on many levels.

Massive boss battles are a staple of the series
If had any criticism of the game it's that it is too short.  The game can be completed in around three or four hours and outside of replaying it on higher difficulties there is little incentive to restart it.  My only serious issue though is the game actually crashed during the final battle and caused my Playstation 3 to scan itself in case it had become corrupted.  This is a major issue considering consoles are supposed to be built to do one thing and one thing well and that is play videogames.  Crashes like these shouldn't be happening and they certainly shouldn't be causing potential operating system corruption.

The only real addition to the game is multiplayer which at this stage in it's life cycle is coming to a sorry end.  The multiplayer pushes way too much paid for content to basically augment your character and give them a special advantage over those who don't spend money for extra powered equipment.  After playing a few matches I found the multiplayer to be incredibly unbalanced with no account for player skill levels being divided between teams, no form of auto balance exists and most matches boil down to the first team to blob together and kill first wins the match.

It's a shame since the gameplay is there for some awesome matches but the mechanics are so badly implemented it just ruins the experience.  The only up shot is that none of the trophies are associated with multiplayer so getting platinum isn't an issue where that is concerned and I applaud Santa Monica studios for thinking ahead in that regard.

Graphically the game just looks stunning.  Kratos looks badass with his body being covered in more blood as kills his opponents.  Monsters animate spectacularly well with some really fluid motion to their movements and attacks, while the environments are absolutely massive.  The art team are so impressed with their own work they even pull the camera out to show you the massive sets they created for the game such as the snake railway, the prison and the statue of Apollo.

Multiplayer is a pointless cash grab and superflous addition
The audio is the usual top quality production you now expect from a God of war title.  Terrence C. Carson once again reprises his role as the Ghost of sparta bringing the same angry intensity of the previous titles.  The musical score is grand and features the mix of orchestral and operatic themes the series has become known for.  The rest of the voice cast do a decent enough job although none of the characters encountered will be seen again in the series so it's of no importance really.

Overall God of war Ascension is a good God of war title that does what the series is known for well but it doesn't bring anything new to the series.  Some may question why we even needed another origin story and the multiplayer is definitely tacked on to tick a box.  The crash seriously dented my overall opinion of the title.  My score would have been higher had the game not crashed so hard it caused my PS3 to scan itself for errors.  It's still fun just don't expect the same experience that God of war III gave you.

SCORE: 6.9/10


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