VicBStard.com special guest contributor Judalene Cheetham returns with another game review. Jude has traveled all the way back to ancient Greece to bring us the secret origin of the PlayStation’s iconic anti-hero, Kratos.
God of War: Ascension is a PlayStation 3 exclusive third-person action-adventure game that is brutally fun and takes you into a world of Greek mythology and madness. Being the fourth entry into the hugely popular series, God of War: Ascension has a lot to live up to but does the game ascend Mount Olympus or should it be sent to the depths of the Underworld.
For any one unfamiliar with the God of War series, Ascension is as good a place as any to start. It begins one cut scene into the first game. So all you need to know is you are Kratos, a Spartan super-soldier, who sells his soul to Ares, the God of War. After much deliberation Kratos decides to ditch the son of a bitch. And it is on this premise you set out acquiring trinkets, solving puzzles and last, but sure as hell not least, killing all manner of absurd creatures.
Ascension, like its predecessors, gives us imposing levels and spectacular scenery to accompany them. They are certainly dressed to impress and leave you wanting more. Be it massive mechanical snakes or a multi-handed temple that used to be some poor blood-oath breaking creature. Scurrying about these monstrosities makes you feel that much smaller as they are always of epic proportions.
Although these levels are of such immensity, there is no lack of detail; all of which is masterfully done and is pleasant to admire on your journey throughout the game. However during your running around you sometimes end up doing a round trip, coming back to the same place more than once. This made me feel that maybe the world isn’t as big as Sony’s Santa Monica Studios make it out to be. Seeing the same place twice isn’t as exciting the second time around, but at least you get a another chance to enjoy their handy work.
Ascension didn’t really meet my expectations or necessarily compel me to keep playing and, being a God of War game, I’ve come to expect the story to be of equal proportion. The story just doesn’t have the same oomph that the previous games. Kratos doesn’t have that oomph either. He just didn’t come across as that vengeful, ruthless killing machine and blood bathed bad-ass I’ve come to know and love. On its own the story isn’t half bad but I guess Ascension is set before all hell breaks loose so it’s hard to fit anything super exciting into the period the creators picked.
There are some points in the game where, from a storyline perspective, I felt somewhat lost. The game flashes between weeks prior and current events, back and forth it goes. It is disorientating at times.
Music in this game seemed to be kept only for combat and action scenes; this however made me appreciate it more. It gives these scenes a higher degree of intensity. During the exploration part of the game you might hear an eerie wind or the crying of some tormented soul in anguish, which in itself makes the setting tense and keeps you on edge.
The sound effects were also well done; as when running along different surfaces the sound of your foot steps will change, when you jump or go over a big step, your chained blades will clang and jingle, your loudest of battle grunts will have an echo. I found all of these to be believable and appropriate. Even the stone gears and cogs turning make music to my ears. The voice acting was mostly okay but in some instances I feel it lacks conviction.
The combat of these games hasn’t really changed dramatically through the generations. To wield your Blades of Chaos you use somewhat organised button mashing to go swinging your blades about slashing, slicing and dicing. Ascension has a slightly more organised version of this so I guess that’s a marked improvement to earlier installments. Boss battles also remain similar; you beat them up till they bleed enough to give you opportunity to disembowel them using a quick time event. If you fall short the sequence of these is usually never the same so you’ve got to pay attention each time. I only failed this on purpose to test this of course.
As you progress though the game you unlock a few trinkets and elemental auras for your blades; most of which improve your battle experience. The few trinkets you find are also necessary in solving some of the puzzles the game offers. The puzzles are challenging enough without being too complex. The elemental auras weren’t too satisfying to obtain as you quite literally just come across them but using them was more so. Once fully upgraded, they unlock a magic attack of that element, using them is very much enjoyable. You also increase your health and magic bar the same way as every other God of War game. You collect phoenix feathers for magic and gorgon eyes for health from chests in hidden and not so hidden areas.
I should also give a small mention to the multiplayer aspect available in this game. Yes it’s something new. There were some enjoyable moments but no, they did not last long. It’s essentially a semi-systemised button smashing gladiator experience combined with rewards to allow you to more of just that. To me, it’s just not appealing.
God of War: Ascension brings us all the epic-ness we have come to know and love from these titles. It brings a few new aspects to the table, but nothing game changing. If you’re a fan you’re likely to get it any way. If you have never played these games you’re not likely to know any better. So for the virgins to the series, when you stand looking at it in the game shop, think for a moment. Do you like getting lost in world of Greek mythology? Do you like brutally kicking butt? Do you like taking on powers and beings supposedly too much for any mortal to conquer and then do finger paintings with their entrails? If it’s a ‘yes’ then these games are for you. It doesn’t matter if you start here or there, it’s essentially all the same experience. I found the other installments just as enjoyable if not more so. Where you begin is entirely up to you.
I give it a 7/10.
Judalene Cheetham loves dressing up freaky geek style at nerdy conventions and when not creating costumes is gaming it up on all manner of consoles ’til the early hours of the morning. This is one addiction she ain’t going to rehab for, that, coffee and Pokémon.