God of War: Ascension Review for PlayStation 3 (PS3)

God of War: Ascension Review for PlayStation 3 (PS3)

The Epic Tale Adds A Few More Pages

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.

God of War: Ascension Screenshot

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.

God of War: Ascension Screenshot

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I accepted this simplistic approach, a fresh new layer was added to a combat system that many have called completely outdated.

God of War: Ascension Screenshot

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.

I will admit the whole idea of multiplayer in a series that’s always been a solo affair had me boggled at first; it just seemed needless. But after spending several hours with God of War’s particular brand of multiplayer, I get the feeling that all of the previous games could have benefited from having something as fun as this. It’s pure, unadulterated violent fun. It offers tons of chaos, tons of blood, and tons of incentive to be a sneaky S.O.B. who lurks around stealing kills, looting chests, and completing objectives.

God of War: Ascension Screenshot

There are several types of matches – Match of Champions, Team Favor of the Gods, Capture the Flag, and Trials of the Gods – ranging from a giant free-for-all to cooperative beat downs. Each mode felt like it was built as a giant stress reliever. The chaotic nature of the maps breeds a type of gameplay where you don’t care if you just died; all you want to do is get back in and kick some more ass. It’s almost like a digital “Fight Club.” Even so, you don’t exactly have to be the best fighter to win. I won several matches by being the one that stayed out of the fights and stole the chests that appeared, swooping in at the last minute for the kill or gaining the favor of the Gods when they intervened in the fights. (Protip: Having someone like that on your team is vital to winning team matches.)

Visually, Ascension astounds. The lavish environments are as impressive as ever and even have a layer of life to them. The visual upgrade is further showcased in the sheer scale of the cinematic battles. For example, there’s a scene early in the game where you ride on top of mechanical snakes while the camera swoops around the area, pulling back away from Kratos and enemies. The combat continues as you command, only you feel as if you are watching an epic cinematic battle rather than a fully controllable fight scene where the camera stays on top of your character the entire time.

God of War: Ascension may not answer the longstanding questions we all have about the aftermath of God of War III, but I think this is one of the best things to happen to the series. Instead of watching Kratos become less and less mortal, we are reconnected to him as a human betrayed by the Gods. Though I was ready to give up on the Ghost of Sparta, Ascension has brought new life to the franchise. Now I can’t wait to see what happens next.

A definite improvement while staying true to the series. 4.0 Control
What we’ve come to expect from Kratos. 4.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
While Kratos is as angry as ever, there are humanizing moments where kudos must be given to the voice actor. 4.7 Play Value
A solid addition to the franchise. The inclusion of multiplayer will only increase the replayability, even if only for a little bit. 4.3 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Multiplayer comes to God of War for the first time. Take the epic God of War combat online with 8-player objective-based combat.
  • Align yourself to Zeus, Ares, Poseidon, or Hades and earn their Favor to unlock new customization options for your multiplayer Gladiator.
  • Experience Kratos’ quest for freedom from the very beginning with an epic new single-player story.
  • New combat and puzzle mechanics build on the award-winning God of War gameplay.

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