Review: God of War: Ascension

Can this new installment of Kratos's journey help the franchise scale new heights?

Rating 3.5 /5
 
13th Apr 2013
Review: God of War: Ascension
Pros:
Epic boss battles; Great visuals; Good online multi-player element
Cons:
Weak plot; Mediocre sound; No innovation

God of War: Ascension

Developer: SCE Santa Monica Studio
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Genre: Hack and slash / Action-adventure
Platform: PS3
MRP: Rs 3000

No discussion about an action adventure game can be complete without a mention of the God of War series. It is popular enough that even my 8-year old nephew knows about it —and he doesn't even own a gaming console! No wonder, fans of the series were crying with joy when the folks at Sony's Santa Monica studio decided to make more money build another God of War game.

The newest title in the gory hack-slash-tear-apart-limbs series is God of War: Ascension. Incidentally, the story in Ascension does not continue from where God of War III left off. It is instead a prequel and takes you back to the very beginning of Kratos's journey. Let's see whether God of War: Ascension can live up to its predecessors.


Plot And Gameplay
As said earlier, the game is a prequel to the entire series. The story is set ten years before the events of God of War I. It starts off with the Furies (three hideous looking women, who spawned during the creation of Earth) punishing Kratos in their special prison for breaking an oath to a God. Obviously, no one messes with Kratos and lives to tell the tale. The narrative of the story keeps shifting between events which happened three weeks prior and to the present time, which makes the story feel a bit disconnected. Overall the plot is okay at best with hardly any depth to it.


Kratos gets grounded.

On the gameplay front, there aren't many changes either. It is very similar to the previous games in the series with a few tweaks here and there. Among the notable changes, you now have a secondary melee weapon which you can pick up. Secondary weapons include spears, hammers and swords among other things. To use them you can press the Circle button. In the earlier games the Circle button was used to grab enemies, which is now assigned to the R1 shoulder key. Your primary weapon, the Blades of Olympus have four new upgrades one each for Ares, Zeus, Hades and Poseidon. Each of the new upgrades get assigned to one of the four directional-pad keys, giving you opportunities to execute cool looking combos.

Powering up weapons work just like before, in which you can use red orbs (collected by killing enemies) to upgrade your weapons. Upgrading weapons gets you new moves. More importantly, it seems the use of Magic has been slightly curtailed in God of War: Ascension. Now you don't get Magic moves as soon as you get a new weapon, instead, you have to upgrade the weapon using (a lot of) red orbs to unlock its magic moves. This certainly works better as spamming magic moves was the easiest way to get kills in earlier games.

One of the staple gameplay elements of the God of War series has been the quick-time events (QTEs) in which you execute a series of cool looking moves to finish of an enemy by pressing buttons displayed on screen. GOW: Ascension tweaks this a bit further, now you need to hack and slash enemies while dodging incoming attacks — all of this when you are doing a finishing move. This certainly adds a bit more fun to the gameplay, instead of mindlessly pressing buttons displayed on screen like in previous games.


Multiplayer
God of War: Ascension is the first game in the series to have a online multiplayer component. This is the biggest change from the earlier installments of the series. I initially scoffed at the idea of a third-person action adventure game having online multiplayer, but I was pleasantly surprised. Before you start your multiplayer campaign, you need to choose one of the Gods with whom you are aligning as each God gives unique abilities and weapons. You can obviously create more warriors and align it to different Gods.

It features four multiplayer modes. Among them "Team Favor of the Gods" is the main multiplayer mode, in which two teams of up to four players compete against each other to accumulate points and gain victory. Other multiplayer modes include "Match of the Champions" (up to eight player death match), "Trial of the Gods" (time trial, can be played co-operative with another player or alone) and finally "Capture The Flag". The maps are fun to play in a multiplayer environment and some of the locations from earlier games also make a comeback.

Playing matches in multiplayer mode is rewarded with experience points which helps in leveling up your character. There are also "Labors" or challenges which you can complete to unlock item upgrades. Overall the multiplayer mode does add quite a bit of replay value to game and should keep you entertained for a while.


Come to daddy!


Graphics And Sound
We are almost at the end of the current generation of consoles and God of War: Ascension almost pushes the boundaries of what is possible. With breath taking visuals to fluid combat animations, God of War: Ascension does what it is expected to do best. Unfortunately it falls short while handling sound. No doubt it has decent sound effects, but the background score fails to set the mood and tone of combat which its predecessors were able to do. This is pretty obvious when you consider that composers such Gerard K. Marino, Mike Reagan and Cris Velasco who left their mark on God of War 1, 2 and 3 are nowhere to be seen in Ascension. The sound also has a few glitches at times and stops abruptly. However that can be fixed with a recent patch from Sony.


Tryin to catch me ridin dirty...


Same Old, Same Old
No doubt God of War: Ascension is an excellent game if looked at in isolation. It has everything you would expect from God of War. Epic boss battles - Check. Over the top action - Check. Babes - Check! However, this is also where it lacks, it does everything you expect it to do and nothing more. To be honest, except for the multiplayer there is hardly anything that you haven't seen in the previous games. This kind of gets boring after five similar games.

The single player campaign will last you about 8-10 hours and same goes for the multiplayer element, which is good value for a game such as this. Fans of the series will definitely want to pick it up and I would suggest the same for people who are just getting into the series, at least that way you will be able to play it chronologically!

Gameplay And Design: 4/5
Graphics: 4.5/5
Sound: 3/5
Mojo: 3/5

Overall Rating: 3.5/5


TAGS: Gaming, PS3

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