After playing the first 30 minutes or so of God of War: Ascension, I can say quite confidently that, yes, this is the acclaimed God of War. But is that a good thing? This isn’t a game that really revolutionises the series, and the origin story that fills the gaps of Kratos’ past isn’t quite as refreshing as the PSP games (which are also prequels). So then why should we care?
We should care because it plays superbly, looks outstanding and does an admirable job of satisfying the hack-and-slash cravings of fans of the genre.
And yet it feels like just a doorstop game, a first-party exclusive of a big brand to counter the risky new IPs of The Last Of Us and BEYOND: Two Souls ahead of the “holidays 2013” release of the PlayStation 4.
Disappointingly, the game hangs onto the severely outdated quick time event like the mechanic’s going out of fashion. After playing DmC and adoring that game’s subtle sound hints to prompt a gameplay mechanic -- like knowing when to attack a boss -- Ascension stays firmly embedded in the days of Shenmue, using the trivial QTE to end the experience’s most outrageously epic boss battles.
Yet it’s hard to fault much else with this game. It does a fantastic job of nailing down its core mechanics early on, including the fantastic grapple addition, which is a far more competent combat tool than Dante’s multiple grapples in DmC; having the ability to hold onto an enemy at a distance while taking down multiple others is something that works well and helps in building up large combos.
Visually, few games stand up to the beauty that is the God of War series’ set pieces. Ascension sets a pretty high standard early on, moving through the clouds, into God hands (literally) and through the deep gallows of a prison. As far as presentation goes, God of War: Ascension certainly lives up to the godly expectations set by its source material.
It’s hard to get as excited for Ascension as I did for God of War 3, and just like Microsoft’s own doorstop game, Gears of War: Judgment, it doesn’t quite do enough new to make it a must-have.
However, for fans of the series and genre looking for a new Kratos adventure, it looks set to be just as satisfying as its acclaimed predecessors.
What did you think of the God of War: Ascension demo?
By Gaetano Prestia
God of War: Ascension is due on PlayStation 3 on March 14.