BADGP Reviews: God of War: Ascension
God of War: Ascension (Santa Monica, Sony)
Review: A Prequel to the Prequel
Zach Buzan and Alex Linna
April 28, 2013
The vengeful and shouting Kratos is back. This new installment in the God of War franchise is placed before the events of the first game. Even though the player is not slaying any gods this round the bosses are still big and nasty. The game starts with Kratos being held prisoner in a prison inside of a Titan. The player then breaks Kratos free and has a series of flashbacks on how the character has ended up there. The combat in God of War Ascension is a bit different in this new chapter. The player only receives the dual chain swords as a weapon throughout the game instead of having multiple different types of weapons. The game gives the player weapons on the battlefield to pick up such as a sword or hammer. These items feel awkward in the single player campaign and they can easily destroy your combat combo. Where the game really shines is through its level designs. Whether platforming on giant mechanical snakes or reconstructing a large Apollo statue the game’s levels never get dull. Graphically the game looks great and some of the levels make you forget that you are in the middle of a fight. (Zach)
God of War: Ascension is the sixth major entry in Sony’s exclusive action franchise. Despite there already being a PSP prequel to the God of War series, God of War: Ascension predates the previous prequel. One would think that due to it predating anything previously offered by the series that Ascension would have an excellent opportunity to tell an engaging narrative that establishes Kratos as more than the character we know as the one-note anger machine in God of War I-III. One would then be woefully disappointed by what is offered by Ascension. There are almost no redeeming or important parts to the narrative in Ascension to the greater God of War lore or to the character of Kratos. That being said, Ascension possesses two of the most epic boss fights I have ever encountered making it worth playing for those alone. It also turns out that the multiplayer offers a unique and engaging experience. I would not hesitate to say Ascension has the best multiplayer experience I have had so far this year (over Tomb Raider, Crysis 3, God Mode). (Alex)
What Happened to the Story? (Alex)
Granted, the God of War franchise has never been renowned for its strong storytelling, but I really enjoyed the story in God of War III. Pandora added a lot of depth that had been missing from the series, and God of War: Chains of Olympus has some surprisingly emotional moments, so the franchise has proven that it is capable of good storytelling. Ascension had an excellent opportunity to explore Kratos’ origins and finally give some vulnerability to the character, but every opportunity has been squelched. I’ll try to sum up the story here: Kratos does not want to serve his oath to Ares (before the original God of War). Therefore, he is being hounded by the Furies to honor it. That is it. Even God of War I & II provided ample motivation for Kratos to be furious. Ascension’s story is nearly nonexistent and is a real missed opportunity.
The Combat is a Mixed Bag of New and Familiar (Alex)
Make no mistake, God of War: Ascension is definitely a God of War game and plays very familiarly, but they add a lot of new twists… most of which did not exactly land every time. There is an emphasis on secondary weapons like hammers, javelins, and swords most of which play a more significant role in the multiplayer. There are litanies of new enemy types that seem more “Freak” than “Greek.” It appears as though the franchise is running out of Greek gods and varying other deities to eviscerate. There are some new sliding sections. One new addition involves an almost Punch-Out!!-like fighting game mechanic on the larger enemies where Kratos must dodge incoming blows while getting in shots when possible. This would be great, and I enjoyed throughout most of my time with Ascension, but it became a real pain when the big enemies would also require quick time events to take down instead. So there I was pounding the square button hoping to get in some quick hits, but I would end up missing a quick time event and taking some damage. This is problematic because God of War: Ascension is probably the hardest God of War game, at least, on Normal difficulty. I had some camera problems which is unusual for the generally incredibly polished franchise. There is the addition of elemental effects instead of gaining more weapons as in past entries in the franchise. I was not a big fan of these, they did not really add much to the overall experience.
The Good (Alex)
God of War: Ascension is beautiful and extremely technically proficient (aside from minor camera problems). Kratos still might be the best looking character model in video games and the animation in the game is still some of the best out there. If God of War: Ascension does anything right though, it is scale. The first thirty minutes and the last thirty minutes are some of the best of the generation. The game starts very strong and ends very strong, but the in between is forgettable and tedious at times. This is okay, because the game is really short. I saw credits after clocking in 7hr. and 7min. The boss fights are quite good and the voice acting is solid. The multiplayer as I previously mentioned is unique and is fun. Two teams are competing over point scoring sections (much like general King of the Hills), but kills, opening chests, and using the environments also scores more “favor of the gods.”
Alex: 7.5 Zach: 8.0 BAD: 7.8