God of War: Ascension Review: Similar, But Not Same Kratos

The big thing about Ascension is its multiplayer mode, though: It’s by far the primary innovation on the disc, and as I mentioned when dishing out my impressions of the game’s beta, it’s definitely fun in its way. Adapting God of War’s combat to a multiplayer mode is no easy task, but Ascension handles it by making most every move operate on something of a “rock-paper-scissors” foundation. Light attacks are quick but are easily blocked or parried; heavy attacks can’t be blocked but are slow and unwieldy. Combos, special attacks, special items that can save you from a combo and other elements are all set to cooldown timers, so players can’t spam irritating moves — often, the battles really do come down to smart combo skills and reactions to the other guy’s moves.

Multiplayer combat feels a great deal like a fighting game, to its credit. There are four different modes, all of which are pretty standard: Capture the Flag, a four-player free-for-all battle, a cooperative time-trial for gathering red orbs, and Team Favor of the Gods, which is not unlike a capture-and-hold game mode. That last one is Ascension’s multiplayer signature, with players capturing command points, opening chest for orbs, and eventually activating a big map-wide element for a big point bonus. In the beta, the bonus was killing a giant cyclops; on other maps, different elements can affect the way the match plays out.

Ascension multiplayer comes off better than one might initially expect when looking at the God of War formula, and it can actually be quite a bit of fun. It certainly doesn’t have that “tacked on” feeling, and depending on which of the gods you pledge yourself to and which weapons you use, one player’s style can be pretty significantly different from others. The big question is just how much it will ever catch on, and I think it might be limited in that regard because the learning curve to be any good is steep. Players unlock new and better armor, weapons and abilities over time, and while going up against any player comes down to whether you use the right moves at the right times, the skill gap can feel really big. To its credit, Ascension offers players plenty of ways to contribute to their teams even if they’re terrible at combat, but the frustration of getting decimated repeatedly — which can and does happen — might be too much for some players to get over.

But for a game that feels like it might just exist to get a new multiplayer mode in front of players, and coming at the end of the Playstation 3′s life cycle, Ascension is a fun investment. Fans of God of War won’t be disappointed by Ascension, but it’s not an incredible, epic breakthrough. The star is the multiplayer mode, and it’s often inventive and fun to play if you’re willing to stick with it. And single-player is no slouch either, packing around eight or so hours of play, but it’s both not as polished or engaging as earlier titles, and not as exciting a story to work through — even though I don’t hate Kratos this time out.

Pros:

  • New combat mechanics like elemental Blades of Chaos are a fun addition to fighting
  • Emphasis on grappling gives Kratos lots of cool new abilities
  • Tight single-player campaign with a number of quality set pieces
  • Kratos is not a horrible, merciless, murdering piece of crap this time
  • Some interesting puzzle mechanics, some fun boss fights
  • New versions of some quicktime events are a welcome change from the norm
  • Multiplayer is fun and intuitive, leaning on fight game-style mechanics; it really does feel like God of War with other people

Cons:

  • Some really bad camera angles; some weird graphical glitches and other bugs
  • Many mechanics feel like they don’t reach their full potential
  • Couple of really brutal woman-murdering moments feel like they go over the line (although the “Bros Before Hoes” trophy has been patched out of the game)
  • Story is disjointed and less interestin, with fewer good characters, than past outings
  • Multiplayer learning curve might keep it from really taking off

Final Score: 75/100


Game Front employs a 100-point scale when reviewing games to be as accurate about the experience as possible. Read the full rundown of what our review scores mean.


Read more of Phil Hornshaw’s work here, and follow him and Game Front on Twitter: @philhornshaw and @gamefrontcom.

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1 Comment on God of War: Ascension Review: Similar, But Not Same Kratos

Michael

On March 18, 2013 at 11:42 am

As a Hack and Slash player I found this game the most disappointing out of the entire series.
Not to knock the entire game, but I believe the multiplayer aspect of the game saved it and I play it every day. The only problem with it is it needs a female character so that women can play it.

Back to the single player. When I played the demo of the game I was sold that Kratos was going to fight his way out of this prison which was built around this giant. But that didn’t happen. What happened is what I call a bait and switch tactic. After the 4 chapter I forgot what I was playing and what my purpose in the game was about until I got to the end and remembered who the real enemy was. It felt like I played the demo to play a different God of War game. This was not the game I wanted to play. Everything after chapter 4 was pointless and it had nothing to do with the story that was laid out for me when the game started.

Its difficult to explain the anger I feel with this game but as an example there was another game that pulled this tactic. Remember the Metal Gear Solid 2 demo? I played that demo who knows how many times and when the game was released and when you beat the demo part it turned into a new game in a new area with a new character. Imagine the anger that I and many others felt when this happened. That’s exactly what happened with God of War Ascension.

This game had so many wonderful possibilities to be one of the greatest entries of the series after that disappointing ending in God of War 3. I could have came up with better ideas for this game that has not been done yet or could have been done to make this game 100 times better than what it was. But HOPE is for the weak and I’m tired as a gamer with all the crap that’s out today. I think I will dust off my PS1 and play some of those great Jrpgs I missed playing.

Lastly for those who believe I’m overreacting about what I wrote which is the truth, there is another thing I’m pissed about with this game and I guarantee many others are as well. Its something called, “The Last of Us Demo”. Another bait and switch tactic. We were told that if we preorder this game we will play the demo. But what happens we get a countdown that ends in MAY, a month before the game comes out. Who does that? Imagine the number of people who preordered this game just to play the demo and were kicked in the nuts for it. I received calls from friends asking me if my code worked, just to be pissed as they were once again. Whats the point in releasing a demo a month before the game is released like that you release it like you did god of War Ascension.

I suggest that they should let us play that demo now. I and many others preordered our copies and we deserve what we was promised.