God of War: Ascension Review
- Posted March 7th, 2013 at 13:01 EDT by Steven Williamson
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While not quite the high-point of the God Of War series, Ascension delivers an action-packed, gloriously-produced, freak-bashing extravaganza with an addictive multiplayer component to boot.
- Looks incredible, brilliant character and level design.
- So much variety in combat that it never gets tiring killing creatures in all kinds of brutal ways.
- Multiplayer brings the universe to life in an addictive online arena.
- A lull in action a couple of hours into the game with boring platform and on-rails sections.
- Pushing objects and pulling levers - some of the puzzles can be tedious.
- Concern about longevity of multiplayer if core players level up too quickly
(continued from previous page) ...Strength’ game at a funfair. Combat not only looks brutal, but with every neck snap and ground slam, it feels so raw and so powerful.
Sony layers the impressive graphics and animations with lavish set-pieces in the form of QTEs that bring you right into the action and show off some of the gratuitous finishing moves, as well as the finer details of the enemies. Superb lighting effects help give the environments real depth, while the use of multiple camera angles that move in, out and around Kratos create a cinematic experience that is similar in scale to the Uncharted games. ‘Epic’ is probably the best word to describe the detail and the creativity that has gone into conjuring up Kratos’ fantasy game world and roster of horrible beasts.
Despite my obvious love of the way GoW: Ascension looks and sounds, it does all feel and look instantly familiar and, subsequently, it’s not as jaw-droppingly impressive if you've played any of the God Of War games, yet it’s still one of the best-looking games on PS3. Gameplay once again involves combat, platforming and puzzle-solving. Ripping open the chest of a Cyclops with the Blade Of Chaos or slicing open a skull to leave brain juice dripping onto the stone floors and covering Kratos from head to foot, is once again part and parcel of the experience and still incredibly satisfying to watch unfold.
As with past games, it’s the combat that’s the star of the show thanks to a comprehensive move-set that comprises of light and heavy attacks, blocking, dodging, parrying and chain-grappling manoeuvres, as well as no mercy brutal kills (when prompted). Kratos’ weapons are bound by elemental properties (Electricity, Soul, Fire and Ice) and as you progress you get access to the likes of the Fire Of Ares which incinerates enemies, the Ice of Poseidon which freezes foe, the Lightning of Zeus which electrocutes the bad guys, and the Soul of Hades which vaporises them. Power-up Orbs that can be found in chests or spouting out from the bodies of dead enemies enable you to power up each weapon and open up new moves, such as the Cyclone of Fury, which Kratos pulls off when airborne, rotating his blades at the speed of light to slice through enemies.
Each weapon has a dozen or more moves associated with it that showcase a different visual effect in battle; and the fact that you can switch between these elemental weapons with a simple press of the d-pad means you now have access to an unprecedented amount of moves. As a result, combat is a hard-fought, flurry of flashes that produces a kaleidoscope of colours, inevitably leading to the chance to run in close to a downed enemy to trigger a short QTE, perhaps pulling their sword from out of their grasp, slicing their legs off and then ramming it through their skull.
Though there’s much fun to be had with experimenting with the array of weapons and their unique powers, I did find that most of the time I stuck with the Blade of Chaos as it was the weapon I’d chosen to power-up the most and I wasn’t ever really forced to change. Though there are some instances where you might counteract a fire demon’s attack with your ice weapon, those moments aren’t frequent. Consequently, the elemental powers do seem like a style-over-substance approach to combat that give you the ability to entertain yourself through the various visual effects they produce but, in truth, you could stick with one weapon and use it through most of the campaign. Nevertheless, it is good fun switching between the huge array of moves that each weapon boasts.
The combat system is fleshed out further with the ability to punch and kick foes. Once again, this isn’t something that I choose to do very often as it’s actually far more satisfying to use a weapon, but I did enjoy picking creatures up and using them as a ram, or smashing their heads violently into a wall. What I really liked though was the powerful Rage attacks, executed with the R2 button. When the blue magic metre is full, these powerful attacks are aligned with whatever weapon you choose; for example, the Ares Inferno sees Kratos raise his blade in the air before slamming it ... (continued on next page)