|Dev: Santa Monica|
|Release: March 12, 2013|
|Players: 1, (2+ Online)|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Nudity, Sexual Content|
by Matt Walker
How do you continue a series in which the story is already finished? Well, you simply go back to the beginning. Or, in the case of God of War: Ascension, you go back to the pre-beginning.
When first announced, I assumed this would be a trivialized chapter in the mythos of the God of War series. After all, we have been here before with a couple of PSP titles that filled the supposed gaps of the trilogy that shook the PlayStation consoles to their core.
Like many longtime fans, I felt like I was done with the angry Spartan after God of War III. I had simply grown tired of all the rage and the unstoppable force of nature Kratos had become. He had simply become too powerful, and in that process, he had lost everything that had once made him human.
But with Ascension, I found myself reconnected to Kratos and his plight against the Gods. It was a feeling I have not had for the character since the end of the original God of War. See, Ascension touches on the breaking of Kratos’ blood oath to Ares, his punishment, and even his sanity. Seeing Kratos broken and hallucinating reveals a humanizing weakness. Granted, the Furies bring this on, but it still allows for some moments of true character development. But don’t worry, there’s still plenty of blood, gore, and boobs to remind us all of Kratos’ trademark manliness.
In fact, the blood and gore is ramped up to a level I thoroughly enjoyed. I found myself repeatedly spouting aloud how awesome certain animations were. For example, in one fight, you split a creature’s head open and its brain comes bulging out. There are several other surprising moments like this, but I won’t ruin them. Just trust me when I say that there are several over-the-top, brutal gems to be savored.
One of my favorite parts of the combat this time around is the buttonless quick time events. You will often find yourself in certain executions in which you will have to watch the creatures try to fight you off, dodge, and then go back to your assault. It’s a little bit hard to get used to at first; more than once, I found myself just looking at the screen wondering what I was supposed to be doing. But once I accepted this simplistic approach, a fresh new layer was added to a combat system that many have called completely outdated.
In fact, there are some other fresh takes on an aged system. For example, instead of having Kratos find badass weapons to fight his enemies, we find elements of the Gods throughout the game to charge our Blades of Chaos. While these elements are a solid way to upgrade Kratos, many players will be upset there are no new permanent weapons for Kratos to dole out Spartan justice. See, instead of carrying around three or four different weapons, Kratos will find javelins, swords, hammers, etc. in game areas to use. These weapons will eventually get used up and disappear, but I never viewed that as a hindrance in the overall structure of the gameplay. Rather, it served to underscore the importance of the Blades of Chaos.
And then there’s multiplayer.