This game is everything I have expected for it to be; brutal and spectacular! This is the most refined GOW game yet (YES EVEN BETTER THAN GOW3), with great combat additions, great variety on the scenery, nice puzzles and great pacing. It may be not as epic as GOW3, but that is because of it being a prequel, so Kratos cant fight a Titan or other things like that, but still it is freaking epic and ultra fun to play due to the whole amazing package the game is.
The combat mechanics have some important changes. first of all you have a rage bar (like in previous GOW games) but when it fills, Kratos does more damage, and can do more moves. You fill it when you attack, and loose some when you are hit. So the game emphasis is to be very aggressive, while dodging in order to prevent your rage bar to get empty. It really changes the dynamic of the combat and makes it more tense, and satisfying. And also, instead of having it full and have more moves, and do more damage, you can unleash it in one heavy blow that deals damage to the enemies nearby depending on the elemental. So you have to see which tactic to use depending on the situation.
The weapons system in Ascension is really nice implemented in this game. For me better than in GOW3, because of instead getting different kinds of the same blades (that are not as useful as the original), you alter the original blades with elemental power and thus enabling you to some really crazy stuff. Each of them have their own magic similar to GOW3.
Also you have the ability of using weapons dropped in the stage an complement your combos with lots of great stuff, or if you dont feel like picking them up, there is a new melee system that is also really sweet. You can also use some gadgets in combat and slow time, or call a "doppleganger". really really sweet!!
The grapple here is changed. Now you grab opponents with R1 instead of circle, and now you can do a lot more stuff while you have grabbed them. You can either hit the one you grabbed, throw him against other enemies, or even while grabbing him fight other dudes. The combat is freaking awesome as you may be already expecting.
Another addition to combat is that when a monster is about to die, and you trigger the killing minigame, there are some enemies, that offer a QTE-less minigame, and now you are the one to dodge and hit him when having the chance. There are also the other minigames with QTEs, but they are done really good too, so they dont take the action out of the game. In fact they bring a quite stylish cinematic appeal to the gameplay.
The puzzles and the adventure feel of GOW1 and 2 are back in here. The puzzles are small, but clever, and now you visit more scenarios making of the game a wonderful adventure, with the best pacing in the series thus far.
The soundtrack is the best of any GOW game yet. Even though it has at times music featured in other GOW games, they have been changed and tweaked, making the experience even more epic. I am very glad they changed composer for this game, because even though the ST in previous games was superb, the same core music were on the games over and over again, and it was about to become a bit boring really. But now the music feels so fresh, and epic too. The combat st when having a great fight, increases the epic level over 9000!! :D
How the story unfolds, is really nice. You get a much deeper story experience than in any other previous GOW game. But it lacks more "repercution". What I mean with this is that it would be nice to have short scenes in which they tell you more about the story between the main events. The story at times feels isolated at times, but it is good and compelling. The acting the motion capture is top-notch!!!! But you dont get to see it that much. I wont spoil the story for you so I will stop right there.
The game now features a new game plus option, which is really nice, because it adds even more replayability than before. And a chapter select feature so you can replay your favorite part of the game and/or search for collectibles that you missed.
If this game only had the single player portion it would be still the best GOW game out there, with a SP longer than GOW3. BUT there is more in the package.
The multiplayer is really cool and really entertaining. I picked up ARES as the olympian I would fight for, so that I can also be some sort of Kratos in the MP lol XD. Each Olympian gives to his champions different abilities, and some unique equipment; so it is really cool to play against and with other people that have different kind of sets of moves, and look in awe their great attacks even if they are killing you. The game is well balanced, and even though it is based on MP modes we have already played in other games, the fact that this is GOW, makes them really fun and visceral to play.
The MP is not for button smashers, because the combat system is deep. It looks quite simple on paper, but it offers really good variations and opportunities for you to use in combat once you began to get more acquainted on how the mechanics work.
As you already noticed I am having an spectacular, and fun time playing this. If you are a GOW fan, you will enjoy this game a lot!!! And if you are not a fan, and you just want to play a great action adventure game, if you play this game, and let it flow you will have an amazing experience with it.
For me, this is the best action-adventure/hack n slash game I have ever played. the gameplay, the music, the story, the graphics, are amazing, and together bring to life an outstanding package you can not miss. The finale is so damn epic one of the best Boss fight I had in my life!!!