God of War: Ascension is a weak installment
- Posted March 14th, 2013 at 01:32 EDT by Timothy Nunes
- 16 Comments
It nearly breaks my heart to say this, considering I’ve advocated for God of War: Ascension, but this game is not polished enough to be called a God of War game. Santa Monica Studios obviously took a lot of time to recreate Kratos in a sub-immortal light, but after experiencing all of the God of War titles, it’s hard to look at this Kratos and feel like I’m not playing David Jaffe’s original design. That may sound positive, but negativity has a strange way of cropping up with reality. Alongside other design flaws in Ascension, I cannot justify some of the decisions made in this PlayStation-exclusive title. Don’t treat this like a reason to stay away from the game, though. It has what God of War fans want, but there are quite a few bumps in the road this time around.
Lame boss fights
Boss fights have always been a highlight of the God of War series, but the beginning fight with the Hecatonchires met a status quo of lesser titles likes Chains of Olympus. In a multi-phased fight with this infesting baddie, all I did was dodge and attack. Surely, there have been many, many boss fights in God of War that are like this, but when I wasn’t dodging, the boss was standing there watching me condense him to shreds. There’s always a little down time for attacking, but over half of the fight didn’t require any thought outside of mashing Square and Triangle. Early signs are pointing toward this being an introductory title for newcomers rather than a genre- or series-enhancing one, especially since later fights only add bosses into each fight that all function the same way.
Dodge is less functional
During this same boss fight, the dodging mechanic also proved to have inconsistencies. Many attacks exacted on Kratos are designed to compensate for this ability, so dodging is that much harder to execute. This would be okay if it wasn’t so hard to recover from a dodge. Unlike the other titles, Kratos could always reach enemies with his chain blades after a dodge so building combos wasn’t too difficult. In Ascension, dodges, unless executed with pre-emptive disposition, more often than not leave Kratos well out of range for his chain blades to massacre his enemies. It’s arguable that the Kratos of Ascension is less powerful, less deadly, but his roll animations haven’t changed in length or style between his immortal outings and this one, which counteracts that point entirely. His chain blades don't seem to have the reach that they did in other titles, so the length of his dodge rolls end up sending him too far away to continue building his hit count.
Random immunity in combat
The dodge ability is altered such that Kratos is no longer invincible through the entire animation, and that change makes complete sense. However, what really blew my mind was the invincibility that Kratos' new grappling ability grants. After pressing R1, Kratos will grab onto mediocre enemies with a chain blade, and that enemy can be used as a projectile to attack other enemies. Immunity comes in for essentially all of this process: activating the grappling ability makes Kratos invincible for the entire animation, and he is impervious through the animation of throwing his enemy. That means that two attacks which can literally be spammed in almost every fight—unless the enemies have armor of any kind—can keep Kratos, who’s now very, very mortal, impervious to damage. What’s up with that?
Whenever Kratos executes a finisher in the other games, the battlefield stops and watches, but such is not the case in this outing. It might seem realistic for them to keep fighting, but enemy attacks fly through Kratos as he lays individual waste to whomever he's presently targeting--and bystander attacks don’t do any damage. Quite often, the AI to these creatures can time the end of your invincible grapples, and they send a barrage of stunning and damaging attacks that hit immediately after the animation is complete.
Random encounters are harder than bosses
The former two frustrations really come into their own once random encounters start happening, especially with centaurs. Using words like “difficult” and “challenging” falls short of describing the resulting pain; these enemies tend to spam their stunning abilities in half-second intervals. Considering that each fight consists of about five or six enemies, it’s hard to ... (continued on next page)
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- 2:08am EDT - March 14th, 2013
Finally some one is speaking the truth on this mediocre at best game! The game is broken. I had to star over because of a glitch.
- 2:27am EDT - March 14th, 2013
I don't understand how it achieved a 9 with the psu review if it has this many issues..
- 2:35am EDT - March 14th, 2013
@2 Tim Nunes authored this opinion piece; Steven Williamson wrote the PSU review. Sometimes, we hold different opinions on things.
- 2:41am EDT - March 14th, 2013
I don't understand how it achieved a 9 with the psu review if it has this many issues..
Ah ok ^ Got it, I thought the reviews were kind of an overall score from the site :)
- 6:12am EDT - March 14th, 2013
it amazes me how the media does not understand that this game is a prequel which means Kratos is significantly weaker. It feels more like the original in terms of freshness and mystery. So far I am at Delphi and I enjoy the game more than GOW3 as it is not predictable and has a different pace. This is just what I wanted. The most important thing is the combat and it has received a significant upgrade. The game is better polished as well and the gore and physics are improved. It feels like I am being introduced to Kratos again. The enemies are tougher in numbers as they should be. The game is not perfect but it is still the best in the genre by far.
- 6:20am EDT - March 14th, 2013
well im getting this game tomorrow ( EU relese date) and im not changing my mind in not getting it.
But i really love the honesty of PSU you guys are the best would be good if SONY would hire all the PSU staff :)
- 6:47am EDT - March 14th, 2013
This game is so EPIC. It is better than GOW3!! And the pacing in this game is perfect! If you have no patience for hard areas (like in GOW3), or you have no patience for puzzles, or you have no patience at all, just stop playing games!
Saying the game is bad because it is hard is really dumb.
EDIT: Just saw your video, and all I have to say is that you suck at the game.
- 8:37am EDT - March 14th, 2013
@6 Cheers! We're always happy to offer thoughts like this when it matters. Thanks so much for reading =)
Kajeto | Sora__87
- 9:50am EDT - March 14th, 2013
Not seen a game split opinion like this in a while, 9s and 8s from websites heaping praise on it, while others give it 7s and are rather negative.
- 12:27pm EDT - March 14th, 2013
Had to laugh at the 'Random encounters are harder than bosses' section. I've often thought about this in many games. It's nice to see differing opinions between reviewers, keeps things fresh and reminds us that we are all different. My only problem is that the games are all too similar. Santa Monica afraid to put an end to Kratos perhaps. Still of an excellent quality, just been done before.
Monty Reynolds | Etern4l_2_T0ker
- 12:38pm EDT - March 14th, 2013
Yea you just suck dude... you have to make good use of alllllll your weapons and abilities this game is about combos, counters guarding. not button mashing. And Kratos is mortal of course everything is going to be harder I thought all the boss fights were an interestingly great and fresh new challenge from previous titles. The only thing I would agree with is that kratos' blades of kaos do seem shorter in length/range. but who cares hes not a god and doesn't have all the weapons he aquired up until gow3 so kratos is more close combat in his early mortal days. You sir have no patience and just suck... there aren't many games these day that actuall provide a challenge,I could beat cod in a couple of hours. most games hold your hands these day requiring no thinking or usage of your own brain. We need more games like this.
- 4:15pm EDT - March 14th, 2013
Yeah dude, you're way off base with this one. Kratos isn't as pissed and mad, so the bosses have no reason to be as hard poseidon or that ridiculous crab. You're reaching big time! When someone or something is on top so long, somebody has to attempt to bring it down!
- 10:26pm EDT - March 14th, 2013
I completely agree.. This is quite a mediocre game. It almost feels like a different green team worked on it instead of the old veterans. All the minor nuances that made god of war "God Of War" is not there. The color pallet and extreme zoom out make me lose complete sense of where kratos is amongst the enemies and combat is utterly frustratingl... There are several little tweaks here and there, unfortunately, none for the good imo. I woudn't even play this shiz if it wasn't god of war honestly. A new franchise would have been just overlooked with these frustrations involved...
- 2:24am EDT - March 15th, 2013
- 10:24am EDT - March 15th, 2013
Sorry Tim, but this article is a lot more rant than genuine critique, the things you describe have always been a part of the gameplay of GoW (like invincibility during certain actions, and the enemies exploiting the precious moments right after said invincibility granting action). The boss fights understandably can't be as epic as 3 - He took on Olympus for crying out loud. Dodge was far too overpowered in previous games to be honest, fights with hordes of enemies were literally hit-hit-dodge-hit-hit-and-repeat. This way, you have to think about the dodge, because you most certainly won't be able to reach the enemies if the dodge is ill-timed.
But then, on the fourth point you turn your entire criticism on its head by saying that the random encounters are too hard, if you don't want a challenge, then mate you're playing the wrong game. I personally want GoW to be as brutally difficult as possible, because the feeling of accomplishment is that much greater for a harder fight. And for the love of all things good, combat and puzzles are designed to BREAK UP the pace, not flow into each other, Kratos is a spartan warrior, but he does have a brain. And lastly, I think it is completely unfair to judge Ascension without acknowledging its place in the GoW chronology, it's a prequel, this isn't the Kratos who tore the gods limb from limb, and that is the point. If anything I'd expect it to be like Chains Of Olympus more than GoW 3.
ps. I'm personally getting tired of all this god of war bashing at PSU, could you guys just collectively move on? ;-)
- 7:28pm EDT - March 24th, 2013
Well hopefully Santa Monica will learn from this and undersatand that it's time to let Kratos die. There have been 6 God of War games over less than a decade, all covering every aspect of Kratos as we know it. I thought it was silly creating this game, as it would have been perfectly fine finishing things off with what they did in God of War III. This game came across as being really forced to me, as if Santa Monica knew they'd run out of ideas but didn't want to acept that there was nothing else to do.
Kratos is dead, there's nowhere else for the series to go. Don't milk the series, there's no need to force any more games out of God of War. It's been a great series, but there's nothing else to do. Kratos' saga has been concluded, now move on. Don't ruin something great by not wanting to let it die. Leave God of War behind and move onto a new IP. I sincerely hope there isn't another God of War game on PS4. I've had enough, and I want Santa Monica to start doing new things.
If they don't stop now, they never will. This is the perfect time to move on to something else.
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