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) ...it and reach a ledge before bringing it to its full restorative state so you can now walk across the bridge. There are also complete areas that transform for a certain period of time giving you a chance to explore and work out what you need to do before time changes back to normal.
Away from combat, platforming and puzzle-solving, there’s plenty of collectibles to look out for, such as Gorgon’s Eyes and Phoenix Feathers, which give you an extra layer of power, perhaps adding to your health or magic bar. Generally though, the path is linear and despite the scale of the environments there’s usually only one way to reach the next area. That linearity really isn’t an issue though because each area, be it the catacombs, chambers, grottos or villages that you journey across, are so visually appealing.
After the campaign is complete there’s more skull-cracking to enjoy courtesy of the series’ first multiplayer component. Though God Of War is a franchise that doesn’t really need a multiplayer mode to complete the experience, Sony Santa Monica has done a great job at bringing the universe into the online arena; and the action is just how you’d imagine it would be with up to eight players smacking each other about.
After choosing which God to side with (Zeus, Ares, Poseidon, or Hades), players are given a boost to various attributes and there’s the option to customise your character with weapons and armour that you unlock as you progress. Then, it’s into the arena to face your foes in one of four game modes, one of which – The Trial Of Gods – we haven’t yet played. Aside from the typical deathmatch mode, the highlight comes from Team Favor Rush, a four vs. four battle where players have to capture and hold altars while taking down opponents.
There’s some nicely designed multi-tiered maps that allow for strategic play and Sony has made clever use of the environment, littering them with traps to spring on enemies. There’s also sections where it has brought in some of the bosses from the campaign, such as the Cyclops who smashes down his fist when you go near. It’s fast-paced and exciting, though it does pay if you really understand your move-set and study the maps before you enter the arena, otherwise you can feel a little out of depth playing with those who know exactly what they're doing.
Initially, the multiplayer mode felt like the first time I played PlayStation All-Stars online. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing as there’s a lot of action going on at one time and a hell of a lot of jumping around. Turns out it’s much more strategic than I first thought and smashing your away around like a drunk in a pub isn’t the way to get the most out of it. It’s all about well-timed combos, dodging, using load-out items effectively and using special attacks at the appropriate times. You can launch opponents in the air, pick up weapons lying around and use them and make use of the chain-grappling mechanic that Kratos has become renowned for. Basically, you can do everything that Kratos can do in the campaign.
My concern is that it may not stand the test of time. Unlocks are gained by progression and completing tasks, essentially playing the game, and by gaining XP you become more powerful. This could mean that before too long the really hardcore players will have maxed out their powers while those who play less frequently could get overwhelmed. Personally, I would have liked to have seen a matchmaking system that balances skills and pits the best players against each other. Nevertheless, multiplayer is definitely not a tacked on feature. I’ve enjoyed playing it so far and dishing out typical Kratos punishment on real people in some challenging bouts is a definite bonus to the single player campaign that fans should could get a kick out of.
Overall, GoW: Ascension is a fine addition to the series, offering a tremendously extravagant adventure that, like the warm duvet in your bedroom, fits snugly into the whole universe. The familiarity and snugness of that blanket, however, means it doesn’t quite hit you with as many “wow” moments as some of the previous games, but still, the quality of the ... (continued on next page)