"Before he was a god, he was a mortal”
Kratos wakes up to find himself captured in the grasp of the Furies. Kratos has broken his oath with the God of War Ares and the Furies must bring Kratos back to him. Kratos must uncover a way to destroy the Furies and save himself from the visions they have placed on him.
"God of War: Ascension: brings Kratos back to his roots. Set before the events of the first "God of War" and the PSP prequel, "Chains of Olympus". Set just after the murder of Kratos’s family, he manages for the first time in any game in the series, to feel an emotion than isn’t anger. Kratos becomes more than just a big angry man who shouts a lot, he now manages to become a slightly more interesting character. Sadly he doesn’t manage to become a fully-fledged three-dimensional character with complex emotional arks, but he does manage to feel more than one emotion. As a prequel, God of War Ascension’s story is an uphill battle. Anybody who has played any game in the series knows the ending to this story but Ascension has managed to tell this story in an engaging way. The game is told in a non-liner fashion it follows Kratos escaping from the Furies prison, when he finds a relic that belongs to him, the game then flashes back to show how he got it. It is within these flash backs that most of the game is set.
The gameplay of Ascension is a refined version of traditional God of War gameplay. The combat has been changed to focus more on been an actual hack n’ slash. Performing combos is now essential to getting through the game alive. A big change in the combat is the magic system, instead of unlocking magical attacks, you unlock magical upgrades for Kratos’s signature Blades of Chaos. An interesting moment is when the Fires of Ares are fully upgraded it unlocks Kratos’s six hit combo which features in every God of War game.
The other key aspects of gameplay are puzzles and platforming. Like everything else in the game platforming has been refined and perfected. While sadly not as challenging as it could have been, it is fun and engaging, though it will make the player think they are on a quest with Nathan Drake on “Uncharted” at times. Puzzles are wonderfully crafted leading to so brilliant “A-ha” moments, though you will never be stuck on one for more than 10 minutes.
The visuals of game are the best ever seen on a console. The franchise has always been a staple of quality visuals, with the gameplay of the second game matching the CGI cut scenes of the original. Following the truly impressive spectacle that was God of War III, Ascension manages to top it within the first hour. The graphics are impressive when compared to high setting on PC titles, Kratos has never looked so good. You can see all the tiny imperfections bumps and scars on his skin, as well as blood slowly covering him during epic battles. “Ascension” is one of the last Playstation exclusives that will be released on their third console and it shows that Santa Monica Studio really know how to get the best out of the now aging technology. With the last two major PS3 exclusive releases, Quantic Dream’s “Beyond: Two Souls” and Naughty Dog’s “The Last of Us” already been shown, it is safe to say that “God of War: Ascension” will have the best visuals of any console game this generation.
What makes this “God of War” standout from the rest of the franchise however is the introduction of Multiplayer. For the first time you can use the skills you have learnt throughout the series online, battling in large areas taken from some of the classic levels from the “God of War” archives. Playing very much like the classic Capcom game “Power Stone”, the eight player area battles frantic and fun. With tutorial system to train you how to fight and use all of the combos, magic and weapons and with Santa Monica Studio asking for continuous feedback via their website for future upgrades and DLC, this is a very different multiplayer experience and a welcome change from the usual first-person shooters that dominate the multiplayer communities.
If the Playstation 4 was to be released next month then “God of War: Ascension” would be amazing swan song for the console. With amazing gameplay, uncanny valley visuals and stunning spectacle, "God of War: Ascension" is an experience you won’t soon forget.
Review by Ellis Atkinson & Jarrod Beauchamp
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