God of War: Ascension review (PS3)

MeatAbstract | 615d ago | User review
Reviewing: God of War: Ascension
Ascend or Descend?
Origin stories can be touchy subjects for fans when their beloved series receives the prequel treatment. Mention Star Wars and most fans reactions are to reveal a list of things absolutely wrong with the three prequels. Prequels divide audiences. Some claim they were stories that should be told one way or another whereas others simply see them as pointless; a simple cash in to make money off a franchises popularity. God of War: Ascension isn't a game that ruins important back story. It is, however, debatable whether or not this story needed to be told as Kratos' reason for who he is and how he came to be where he is, is explored within the original God of War. Ascension is here though and there is no dismissing it. It's fully fledged God of War title that explores of origins of everyone’s favourite God slayer – Kratos. The game itself is set 10 years before the original God of War and 6 months after the deaths of Kratos' family. Having broken his bond with Ares, Kratos is fleeing from the Furies, three demonic sisters that punish those that break an oath, more severaly to those that turn their back on a God. In order to be free of his oath to Ares, Kratos must find a way to defeat the sisters.

With the origin story, we were promised a different Kratos, one not so driven by vengeance and rage. While this is true, we don't see any more depth to Kratos than we did in other games. In the very few cutscenes the game provides, we simply see Kratos looking forlorn, a little glum and little down. We don't completely explore his grief, his pain and his regrets. There is also another conspiracy plot that plays a long side Kratos' but this plot is hardly worth being invested in and is rarely touched upon. This is a problem with an origin story, that there is nothing at stake as we know what is to come thanks to earlier games. As already mentioned, there is a distinct lack of cutscenes when compared to the previous title, God of War 3. It's a shame because the few cutscenes used rarely explore Kratos as a character and simply push forward a meandering plot you couldn't really care about. The antagonists of Ascension, The Furies, are at least a driving force to keep the game moving. But thanks the picking off and killing of the God's one by one in God of War 3, the Furies fail in comparison. Again, they're not an intimidating force because you know you're going to win so you're simply pushing on through a story with nothing at stake and nothing to gain.

The weak story aside, the gamplay is where God of War shines and Ascension is no different. This is the tried and tested formula used in previous games and, for the most part, it remains the same, with the battlefield becoming a blur of spinning blades, blood and floating orbs. A notable change is the new quick time events that have also morphed into a new mini-game. Instead of pressing a series of buttons when prompted, you'll continue to mash the attack buttons and use the analogue stick to dodge attacks from your pinned foe. It's a simple change but effective at keeping you involved in the action. The combat also looks fantastic. Killing enemies in gory finishes has never felt so satisfying, especially when some of the enemies here will, at times, offer a genuine challenge when facing different combinations. The new block and counter requires better timings than previous games and tough to time perfectly rather than the simple one, well timed button counter of God of War 2 and 3.

The weapons have also been significantly changed in Ascension. Whereas in previous games, the player would be given items and weapons they'd never use because the chains were so fun, here you are given different elements. The four elements, fire, ice, electricity and hades (whatever element that is) all offer their own rewards for using them. This coincides with the new rage bar. When fighting, Kratos' rage bar will fill up. Once full, apart from offering more combat moves, whichever element Kratos is using on his blade has a better chance to incinerate the enemy which rewards the player with orbs. Which colour orbs you get depends on which element you used. It's probably the most interesting and refined combat in the whole series and actually gives the player a reason to use new weapons, with the rewards of health, magic and golden orbs (rage meter) a good incentive to do so. These are also beneficial because later in the game, Ascension can become a challenge and full mastery of your weapons can be needed, in one area in particular towards the end. Secondary weapons have also been introduced. Kratos can now hold a sword, a shield or even a warhammer which is used with the ever changing circle button. While you may not use them much, they offer some variety to the combat, can be chained in with your combos and can even help get you out of a tight spot. They can also be thrown at enemies, which offers a great looking slow down moment before the moment of satisfying impact.

The puzzles are also enjoyable in Ascension. As the game progresses, they become genuine brain teasers that link and wove together. There is also a new ability in the game that allows you to restore items or decay them which is mixed well into the puzzles. Watching a collapsed bridge slowly re-assemble looks great and the attention to detail on the all the tiny broke pieces has to be admired.

It's also worth noting that God of War: Ascension looks fantastic. Santa Monica are truly getting everything they can out of the aging PS3 hardware and like with God of War 3, offer a jaw dropping experience visually. Add these visuals in with some epic moments, gory combat that reveals the innards of mythological creatures and an acute attention to detail, you have one of the best looking console games on the market today.

Where God of War Ascension falters when compared to the other games is, sadly, a few areas. The colour palette is one that can make it easy to lose track of Kratos in a hectic fight. He can sometimes blend in and often times will appear on the other side of the screen because you looking in the wrong area. The boss fights are also lacking in this game. Only in a few occasions do they reach the epic scales of God of War 3 and never do they test you like some of the boss marathons God of War 2 offered. The game also has a tendency to throw in one too many platforming sections that, while OK, tend to drag on a little longer than they should.

Personal Note: I genuinely love the God of War series. I've loved it since the original and was really looking forward to Ascension. Sadly the game just didn't live up to the others. Kratos didn't really interest me as a character this time round. The boss fights were lacking and the areas and use of colour meant it was frustrating and easy to lose Kratos in a sea of enemies. The combat can offer a genuine challenge at times though which is refreshing in today’s age of hand holding games. If you're a fan of God of War then I would wholeheartedly recommend this game to you. While the core gameplay doesn't change things significantly, it proves that it still works incredibly well and offers a satisfying, blood thirsty experience. However, I will add that, despite the great combat, I'd say this is the weakest console God of War game we've seen yet where many other aspects of the game fail to live up to it's predecessors.

A solid hack 'n slash for fans of the series. There is also additional multiplayer for those that like that sort of thing.
Ups
Fantastic visuals
Combat remains fun
Can offer a genuine challenge
Downs
Story is weak
Promise of a 'new' Kratos undelivered
Problems with audio
Score
9.0
Graphics Brilliant looking graphics let down by some bland looking areas.
7.0
Sound Audio had a tendency to cut out from time to time. Was sometimes out of sync. Game still offers the lovely sounds to cogs clinking and clanking when solving a puzzle.
8.0
Gameplay Tried and tested formula remains solid. A few of the platforming sections can drag on. Boss fights aren't challenging.
8.0
Fun factor Frustrations occur when overwhelmed by enemies and Kratos is lost in the fray. Story is a let down and the idea of a prequel takes away any tension. Combat and satisfying quick time events still offer the most fun.
0.0
Online
8.0
Overall (out of 10 / not an average)
Heavenly King  +   613d ago
For me this game is at least a 9. But still fair review I guess.

The last boss fight is the best or one of the best in the whole series (for me the best), and you cant deny that.
MeatAbstract  +   613d ago
That boss fight looks impressive, sure, but hardly challenging as a boss fight should be.
Heavenly King  +   612d ago
play it on titan.
MeatAbstract  +   612d ago
But why would I play through the game, then replay it on titan just to APPEASE YOU and say the boss fights are a challenge even though upping the difficulty doesn't make it a fair challenge but wholly unfair?

Besides a boss fight should be something that tests you up to that point. The boss fights in GoW 2 were marathon where using magic and keeping your health up were something you had to do. I didn't get this here.
IcyEyes  +   613d ago
I think most of the users are "afraid" to score this game with a more well deserved 9 ... Probably because most of the website give to this game a bland 8 ... I dont want forget how some "not so good" game have the same score of God Of War ascension.

Anyway, good review, looks like you enjoy the game !

Ps the multiplayer is very, very addictive and funny !
Pss 9 in graphics is also too low.
MeatAbstract  +   613d ago
Whether or not other games have scored similar scores shouldn't matter. you judge the game on it's own merits and the games predecessors.

Also I wouldn't let other review scores sway mine. In working out the scoring for this game, I originally was going to go lower but thought about and you can't deny the quality and fun the game offers. Personally, it just wasn't up there with GoW 1, 2 and 3.

Edit: It's also worth noting as well that an 8 is not a 'bland' score. A 8 means a game is great. God of War Ascension is a great game it doesn't match up to the others and some aspects of it hold it back from excellence.
#2.1 (Edited 613d ago ) | Agree(6) | Disagree(1) | Report | Reply
TuxedoMoon  +   610d ago
Nice review of the game. I just recently played through a good chunk of it myself and found it...really dull. The events presented and the grunt battles were very expected. It's not a bad game, technically, but it's not that fun. My main problems were the grunts. They have too much hp to the point where it was a test of patience rather than a real challenge. Sometimes the enemies would glitch and be under the floor or in the air...stuck. The story wasn't all that interesting either. The fixed camera angles seemed a little archaic too. I want to look around the pretty scenes.
#3 (Edited 610d ago ) | Agree(4) | Disagree(1) | Report | Reply
Insomnia_84  +   609d ago
Befoee he was a God, he was a man. That alone should let you know that it would not be at the level of GOW1-2-3. Many people got that wrong and ended up disappointed. For the time the game is set at in Kratos life, I think it was great.
coolbeans  +   609d ago
That doesn't really make sense to me.
Because advertisements forewarn me about the current 'state' of the main character, I should now come in anticipating a lesser product?
Insomnia_84  +   609d ago
That's the way I saw it since the beginning. That, first gameplay vid and what he said in an interview was more or less what I said ilbut different words. It's not a lesser game, it has all the things that make a GOW game great but if you were expexting battles, enemies, bosses like in GOW3 then IMO you were expecting the wrong thing. I liked the game a lot like all the GOW games, played them all on psp and the HD remakes, got Platinum for all of thembincluding this one and like I said befor this is the one with the most bugs! I had a lot of disagree s for saying that before but it only takes a look at todays post in the playstation blog to realize it.
coolbeans  +   609d ago
Okay, that's a fair reply that provided clarification. I must admit, the "level of GOW 1-2-3" portion confused of whether you're talking about the game's quality or something else.
MeatAbstract  +   609d ago
But he's not a man in this game. He's the exact same as he is in every game because in every game he always loses his powers and ends up back at square one. He isn't a man, he's still a demigod because this is past his deal with Ares. We've never really experienced much of Kratos as 'a man' before and this game is no different.

I suppose it's just a case to agree to disagree. Some fans love this game and think it's the best in the series. I personally don't. It great and fun and if you've played previous God of Wars then, as I've already wrote, I'd recommend it. It just didn't leave me feeling satisfied after completing it. I even felt more satisfied when completing God of War 3 which I felt dipped in the second half.

I have no problem with an origin story. I think I would of appreciated it more if we'd actually seen Kratos before he made his oath to Ares. Perhaps we could of controlled a more human Kratos for a level or two and then taken part in the battle that was his downfall. We could of explored Kratos' desire for power, his ambition and how his limitations as one man ultimately led him to his downfall. We catch a few glimpses of Kratos as a man in a few moments when the Furies try and trick him. But these aren't nearly enough and I think that's why it fails as an origin story.

As for going into the game, I remember thinking it would be interesting to play a more subdued God of War again as all the epic stuff happens later in Kratos' life. But it still tries to achieve the epic highs of the other games while at the same time having a more subdued tone. It's trying to have it's cake and eat it as well.

I read a comment that I agreed with that someone wrote on here and they said God of War: Ascension feels like the developers used a lot of stuff left over from God of War 3 and just made a game out of it. And why not, I personally wanted to see another God of War with that engine. But that's all it feels like. The other God of War games felt like they needed telling, especially 3 which was so anticipated after 2's brilliant cliffhanger. Ascension didn't need telling because we don't really learn anything new about Kratos. It was just 'heres another pretty game, enjoy' and I'm fine with that, the combat is great and most environments look nice. That's all it is to me.
#4.3 (Edited 609d ago ) | Agree(2) | Disagree(0) | Report | Reply
Insomnia_84  +   608d ago
It was just 'heres another pretty game, enjoy' 
That's exactly the way a take it. Now, GOW4? That I expect to be something awesome!

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God of War: Ascension

Average Score 7.9 Reviews(250)
Release Dates