What happens when you take Greek mythology, mix it up with a lone spartan warrior and add in a pinch of all out brutal warfare? You get the God of War series, one of the best series to come out exclusively for the PlayStation. The games have all been a great sight to behold but the newest addition to the series, God of War Ascension, promises something old with something new. Does Ascension truly bring back the classic bloody battles or does it make the God of War series look like a child’s play thing? Let’s have a look and find out.
First let’s have a look at the story of God of War Ascension. The story brings back the angry protagonist Kratos as he has become the victim of breaking his blood oath with Ares, the god of war. His mission is to now fight through hordes of enemies as he fights to find out the truth. The story is a great addition to the series, showing more of the back story of Kratos as he journeys to become the new god of war. It is also a good look into the inner demons he now has to face as he keeps witnessing moments of the past involving his fellow Spartans and his family. Some people may find the story a little confusing at first however, as the game consistently throws the player between the present time and two weeks before the events that are currently unfolding. The game is nicely balanced between the flashback sections and the present day sections allowing the player to feel fully immersed regardless of the time.
The great thing about the single player campaign is that it does in a sense link in to multiplayer. When it was originally announced that multiplayer would be added into the series I was sceptical, however the mode itself is really solid and, dare I say, a great addition to the series as a whole. The multiplayer gives the player a hero that was originally trapped alongside Kratos in the single player campaign, who has the chance to align himself with a god of his choosing. Depending on the choice made, the player will be able to have certain specialities in the multiplayer, whether it be Ares’ all out brutality, Hades’ soul absorption, Zeus’ lightning prowess or Poseidon’s freezing touch. Once you have made a choice with these gods, you can then further customise your armour and weapon load outs with different combinations fit to suit any and all play styles.
It is great to see that the multiplayer encompasses both customisation and a good array of multiplayer modes such as normal death match modes to even co-op time attack modes. The different weapon and armour load outs have levels to increase their efficiency and performance as well as the players’ warrior having levels to increase the array of weapons, armours, spells and techniques at his disposal. The modes particularly huge, the biggest one allowing eight players, but the modes are solid and enjoyable. They encompass the God of War gameplay perfectly and truly bring a new degree of playability with the game.
Speaking of gameplay, the gameplay in the single player experience stays true with classic God of War style gameplay, having you smashing buttons in combination of one another to string together devastating combos whilst also blocking and dodging incoming attacks from opponents. You may be thinking “it’s all the same then?” You will be happy to know this isn’t true. The devs at Santa Monica studios have obviously been taking their time to make sure this isn’t just a copy & paste experience. They have constructed new gameplay mechanics that go along side the old ones to create an experience that feels new.
First of the new mechanics is the ability to use your chained blades to grab and attack enemies in new ways. For example you can grab an enemy with one blade whilst still using your other blade to fight off surrounding enemies, finishing off the combo by throwing the chained foe either off a cliff or into one of your enemies. Another new mechanic is the rage attack: depending on what god power is linked to your blades the rage attack with have a different effect, whether it be damage, stunning power, freezing your enemy or life absorption. Thirdly is the secondary weapons mechanic. Although your main attacks will come from your chained blades, throughout your battles you will be able to pick up secondary weapons such as shields, spears and swords. These all have their own unique attacks and add a new way to string together kills and combos.
Another interesting thing to bring up is the redesign of the magic system. In every God of War game there have been magical abilities that Kratos can use in order to deal with his foes. In Ascension there is a new twist to this classic mechanic. Where normally a new weapon would come along with a new magic ability right off the bat, the new god enchantments require that the player invests their red orbs into them in order to both unlock new attacks as well as unlock the chance to use their spells. Some of the veteran players may see this as an issue as it takes away something they are normally accustomed to. However, after playing the game for a good six hours, the magical powers of two out of five of the weapon enchantments were unlocked. So luckily it doesn’t take too long to unlock them, plus you do get at least one to play around with to start.
The last things to bring up in the game are the graphics and the soundtrack. The graphics are outstanding. The Greek environments as well as the looks of the god’s, fury’s and abilities are all outstanding. The great part about all of these beautiful environments and effects is that they do not interfere with the combat what so ever. The game runs so smoothly that the graphics and effects can be witnessed at their full potential at all times, making the game much more immersive and enjoyable. Lastly the soundtrack is just as amazing as ever. The orchestral pieces that have made the game as astounding in the previous titles have returned, adding in an amazing feel to the environments as you butcher, maim and destroy everything around you. These together turn the game from being your normal hack and slash adventure to now become a fully-fledged adventure platformer.
The game overall is an amazing blast from the past. It encompasses everything that made the series great as well as adding new mechanics and twists to make the game feel brand new. It adds in more puzzles, platforming and more enemies to decimate as well as introduces more of Kratos’ past. The game is a worthy addition to the series and is a potential rival for game of the year as it goes toe to toe against Tomb Raider currently.
Now that may be all that is good with the game but there has to be some things wrong with it surely? To start with let’s talk combat: although Santa Monica Studios have added in some new mechanics, the combat still feels like a stereotypical God of War experience. You simply button bash your way to victory whilst occasionally blocking or dodging incoming attacks. As well as the combat feeling monotonous, there is also a big concern about the damage being dealt by enemies. Let’s say you’re surrounded by five enemies, nothing in comparison to the mighty Kratos right? Well even if you try your best to dodge and block attacks whilst still swinging you’re going to find yourself getting juggled and thrown around the map like no ones business if you are caught out. This would add a sense of challenge to the game, which is well received, but for new players of the series this is a massive turn off. You want to be able to fight five enemies at once but if you slip up just one time you could go from full health to no health in a second.
As well as the combat suffering there has also been a few times where the camera angles themselves have killed the experience. God of War knows how to use the camera to create a great ambiance and environment, which it still does here, however in some fights and boss battles the camera is positioned so far away or so awkwardly that the player will literally be killed. You can’t concentrate on everything that is happening on screen when you look like a tiny ant in comparison to the giant enemy boss whilst being attacked by smaller guys. It is too much at the same time and can truly kill and experience that is trying to be a challenging one.
So there you have it, God of War Ascension in a nut shell for all you warriors out there. But what do you guys think of the game? Do you think Kratos’ rage is as powerful as ever or do you think his bark is worse than his bite? Be sure to let us know what you think of God of War Ascension down in the comments below and I hope you all enjoy the newest addition to the series that can truly get your Spartan blood pumping all over again.