8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
If it Ain't Broke...,
This review is from: God of War: Ascension (PS3) (Video Game)
God of War: Ascension is a brilliant game.
No, it's not God of War 4, but neither is it God of War `3.5'.
The main focus of this game during its media push was its shiny brand new multiplayer component, and despite the single player portion being about half as long as the `normal' GoW game length (12 hours complete time for me), it is no less playable or enjoyable. Or spectacular.
Ascension sees the telling of the `interim' story that precedes the original God of War and portrays Kratos' battle with `The Furies' that ultimately leads him onto the path of showdown with Ares.
The hack-n-slash gameplay is still as good as ever, and the game still befits the series' `Epic' moniker.
Each iteration of God of War so-far has managed to tweak the network of weapons/magic/combat so that it always feels sufficiently different and fresh, and Ascension is no exception. New ideas such as the Oath Stone of Orkos and the inspired Amulet of Uroborus (they must keep this feature and build on it for future games) add some nice new ideas. But it's still the God of War we know and love.
What is perhaps different is the direction: One of the `Extras' videos shows the Project Director saying they wanted Ascension to be a `distilled' form of the GoW DNA - the very `essence' of the series - and that's exactly what it is: Shorter, maybe a bit less varied with fewer characters and perhaps an ever-so-slightly `diluted' iteration; but still as utterly immense and enjoyable.
One thing that has been ramped up though is the sheer scale. I spent the first one-and-a-half-hours of the game with my jaw dropped on the floor. Remember the Cronos fight in GoW3? Well that sort of `size' becomes the norm in Ascension. And it doesn't lose its punch. It's just an enormous game. The level design is still as good as ever and the set-pieces are the best in the series. And yet despite this increase in `loudness', this iteration offers the most `solitary' story so-far; with lots of areas for Kratos to wander in without an enemy on every pathway. There are some great puzzles in there too.
The difficulty is definitely easier than the other games. It's still a challenge; but altogether more manageable. There is one section that is being fed to the dogs by a lot of people - the `Trial of Archimedes' level, and while it is a bit of crass design perhaps; it is no more difficult than anything from the series so far, so the game is still well balanced.
There's a few minor niggles here and there - slightly grandiose camera angles, noticeable but not fatal bugs (I had to re-start a checkpoint at one point because my mini boss enemy `disappeared'), and maybe slightly less-engaging `standard' enemies, but this is still `triple-A' God of War. Shorter; but still brilliant.
And so, If God of War 1, 2 and 3 were the first 3 `core' `albums' (and, if you like, Chains of Olympus and The Ghost of Sparta the two complimentary `EPs'), then God of War: Ascension is Studio Santa Monica's first greatest hits album - plus 4 bonus tracks and a `Multiplayer' bonus disc. You've seen it all before, yes, but when the bonus tracks are this good? Well, you've just got to get that album haven't you?
A perfect generational swansong for Kratos and the series as a whole. It will need to evolve from here on in certainly, but this is as a good a last hoorah as it was ever going to be. Every bit as `canon' as any of the other entries, and a must for any God of War fan.