We've seen it with numerous titles to date, including Dead Space, Ratchet & Clank, and, more recently, Mass Effect. Now, Santa Monica is presenting its avid followers, and the rest of the industry, a game that has remained a single-player experience through five titles on three devices with its take on multiplayer. God of War is one of the pinnacle experiences to have on any PlayStation console, and Santa Monica is “trying something new” to accent the experience in a fresh way. The multiplayer looks challenging, it looks beautifully gory, but is it what the franchise needs?
First, a synopsis: the first point of the match is to compete against another team of four players for two nodes that control the massive cyclops in the background via chains, intended on the ultimate victory being to slay the monstrosity. Players exact combos on their opponents in a similar fashion that would be done to any creature in the single player experience.
Now, let's say that this multiplayer really will be the “Bee's Knees,” and this Control-and-Defend mode can take players on an experience that can't be had in a story. I'd like to ask why take something that's as major as slaying a massive cyclops potentially out of the plot and put it into something that's readily repeatable? In these terms, it's hard to really believe that something this big and involved can be dwarfed by the single-player experience—but if it can, which I hope, it will be incredible.
What if it's not so great? What if it turns into the multiplayer like Dead Space had? Sure, that multiplayer was unique, for the most part, and it had a nice twist on the industry. Unfortunately, people are still playing the same multiplayer games that have resided in their consoles longer than Dead Space 2 has been live. Surely, Santa Monica doesn't want this, as I'm sure Visceral Games didn't intend with Dead Space 2. It's hard to conceive, though, the fighting scheme native to the series presented in an online setting, especially since lag is an issue that's far too consistent. So, with all of this in mind, Santa Monica has a lot of work in store.
Even as I ponder it more and more, the sheer reality of it all has started to sink in; maybe a little too deeply. My own thoughts have begun to hype the expected experience coming from this AAA title, and I hope that my preconceptions don't ruin it. This is in regards to the “removal of the cyclops from story mode” concept that I mentioned earlier. If this online experience compares to the story in a scaled fashion, as I feel it should, this game could really be the “most anticipated God of War title to date.”
But really, since I'm not the only fan of the franchise, what do you guys think? Does Ascension have what it takes to redefine an online experience, or will it take away from what we've grown to love?