God of War: Ascension Review

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PS3 logoTo understand this God of War: Ascension review, you must understand my first foray into the God of War series. I had just had an unpleasant day at work, I wanted to play a game to escape, and I spotted the demo for God of War 3. I figured I would give it a try — and I fell in love with the epic landscapes, violently entertaining battles (perfect for relieving stress) and the over-the-top epitome of machismo known as Kratos. Immediately I was hooked. I just had to know the whole story.

I purchased the God of War trilogy and played it all the way through. When I finished the third game, I was satisfied, but I still wanted more of the story — and of Kratos. To appease that desire, and solely to appease it, I purchased Mortal Kombat 9, which has Kratos as a playable character. I was completely let down. Then I tried PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale (review) and was similarly disappointed with the Kratos experience. Fortunately a new potential savior was near, as God of War: Ascension was on the horizon. I was in the building for its midnight release — the only girl there. So, with that in mind, I’m beyond excited to once again be playing the character I consider more formidable than Chuck Norris. Kratos is back in all his glory in God of War: Ascension, and I couldn’t be happier.

Santa Monica’s latest installment of the God of War Series definitely meets the expectations set by its predecessors in the series in several ways:

Amazing Environments

Considering the game designers are quote proficient in directing the player in a linear path, the amount of creative effort and detail they put into these ambitious environments is mind blowing. It almost makes you wish that God of War was an open-world style game. Almost. These fantastic set pieces immerse you in Kratos’ world like no other God of War game before it, and that same level of detail is present in God of War: Ascension’s multiplayer element as well.

Hilariously Over-the-Top Masculinity

Kratos could annihilate Chuck Norris in a fight. I’d put money on that. Kratos is of course rendered to be the embodiment of masculinity, with his chiseled physique, propensity for violent aggression and a voice that doesn’t seem to have any setting other than “loud righteous indignation.” The game is also very quick to take you to your first den of topless women eager to jump Kratos, and not much oozes machismo more than that.

God of War: Ascension screenshot

Colossal Introductory Boss Battle

You literally fight your prison in the introductory big battle! This is a great way to start the game, with a promise that there is more Awesome still to come. Even better, the game actually delivers on that promise, making you feel that the introductory battle isn’t just eye candy and something to entice you, but a solid tutorial of sorts into the intense and refined gameplay that awaits around every corner from beginning to end.

Pick-Up-and-Play Controls

I find the controls in the God of War series to be highly intuitive, and Ascension is no different. Anyone can pick up the controller and button-mash their way to expertise, to the point that even a child could play the game with ease. Please note, however, that you should not let your child play this game. It is not for kids at all. Some gamers would argue that such simple controls must equate to simplistic gameplay, but that’s not the case here, nor has it been in the entire series. God of War: Ascension has refined intensity, gore and action to a fine science, and doing so while maintaining simple controls is actually quite a feat, not a detraction. My only real criticism of the gameplay actually has more to do with the camera, which is placed a little lower than before and thus messes with your perception (and initial playability) a bit. Once you start moving, though, controlling Kratos is infinitely better.

Multiplayer Mode

Yes, you read that correctly: Ascension has a multiplayer mode. This is the first time a multiplayer mode of any sort has been included in a God of War game, and Sony nails it. When you combine the epic set pieces I mentioned above with intense pseudo-class-based combat, what you get is an outstanding addition to the God of War series. Aligning your character with one of four gods gives you the ability to choose magic and weapons that fit your play style, which adds a certain (and unexpected) level of customization to each round. You may call these decisions and their resulting success beginner’s luck, you may call it “about dang time,” or you may call it “better late than never.” I, for one, call it awesome.

Educational Overtones!

Okay, I’m kind of kidding on that one. Sony does reference Greek mythology in this series, and although their plots and characters may not be 100% accurate, at least the tangential references will familiarize younger people with the pantheon of Greek Gods. Barely.

Though the series has been criticized for being a squandered opportunity in the area of storytelling, basically going from a classic Greek tragedy to a caricature of misogynist attitudes and violence, I have not found myself disappointed at all. In fact, I really like the story. I’m not here to criticize its narrative — many others have done and will continue to do that. I’m here to tell you whether or not I found the game enjoyable, and I absolutely did. God of War: Ascension is awesome.

Check pricing for God of War: Ascension on Amazon.com.

Score: 9

– Amber Taylor

Platform reviewed: PlayStation 3 (platform exclusive)

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