God of War: Ascension adds multiplayer to the series for the first time to freshen up another violent romp through Ancient Greece
God of War has been making outings on Sony consoles now since the PS2 which is nine years of Kratos venting his anger at the Gods slashing his way through hordes of mythical beasts and bosses the size of skyscrapers and it's probably fair to say that a God of War game will be primed for the Sony PS4 when it officially lands..
That's a long time to keep any franchise going but if you live by the idea that you're only as good as your last game, God of War 3 was arguably Santa Monica Studios' finest hour delivering one of the finest PS3 exclusive games.
In recent months hack and slash fans have been spoilt with DmC Devil May Cry and Metal Gear Revengeance so God of War Ascension has alot more to do than simply live up to its stunning predecessor.
God of War Ascension: Plot
A prequel to the original God of War: Chains of Olympus, the Kratos we are now witnessing is not the ruthless killing machine raging against the entire world and the Gods that inhabit it, but a Spartan general who having accidentally murdered his wife and children after swearing an oath with Ares.
The result is that he has now been imprisoned by three sisters (the Furies) who are not prepared to make his escape an easy one.
It’s clear from the early stages of the game that there's a clear intent to develop the story of our anti-hero prior to his meltdown, revealing the choices that have influenced his decisions to seek vengeance.
The only problem is that it only really gathers momentum in the second half of the game. Once you begin wielding those Blades of Chaos the storyline quickly feels quite secondary to the action.
God of War Ascension: Gameplay
The opening sequence is by no means the most spectacular we’ve seen in a God of War game but it’s not long before we're into familiar territory using frenzied sword-slashing combat to take out whatever crosses Kratos’ path with quick time events helping you finish off some colossal enemies some of which are impressively carved into the ancient landscape.
The pace of the game drops only briefly in between areas to make room for solving some far from taxing puzzles, climbing from walls in Nathan Drake style and giving you the opportunity to load up on life, which is strategically placed to keep fully stocked up before being thrown into battle again.
It’s a familiar formula and it can feel that that it's made with the intention of making it easier to get through the game.
God of Ascension: Features
The control system has been tweaked ever so slightly, adding useful abilities to make it easier to evade enemies and while there are some additional weapons to pick up on the way like spears or chains, your twin blades are the main source for causing damage.
You can upgrade the blades and enhance their powers to burn and melt foes but the most satisfying feeling comes from hitting huge combos before quite brutally decapitating or beheading beasts with your bare hands.
One area which the series has always been lauded for is its lush environments and whether it’s in single player or multiplayer the the surroundings look as vivid and as visually impressive as they have ever been and with the combination of the slick cinematic camera scrolling and booming loud soundtrack we can't have too many complaints about the world that is built around Kratos.
God of War Ascension: Multiplayer
Breaching new and unknown territory, Santa Monica Studios has wandered down a path that it seems is customary for every game that is released these days. Accompanying the single campaign for the very first time, multiplayer brings a refreshingly different approach to online team action.
Swapping Kratos for a nameless warrior who can be customized and earn extra abilities through experience points, you must choose allegiance with one of four Gods Aeus, Ares, Poseidon or Hades and with that choice you will be rewarded with specific skills and weapons which offer different fighting styles.
You can choose to go through a training stage or skip that and get in to the lobbies where you’ll be tasked to work together to protect flags like an ancient Greek version of laser quest (except with more carnage) or simply fight off hoardes of beasts until the clock runs down.
What can initially feel quite frantic actually becomes quite enjoyable and once you can master unlocking additional fatal obstacles like spike pits and getting some help from the Gods above it makes up for what some might consider a mode that does still lack a bit of depth.
God of War Ascension: Verdict
In many ways God of War Ascension is simply a case of resuming normal service. The valiant attempts to make the narrative more engrossing fall short of achieving what still feels confusing and a bit hollow.
We can’t fault the rewarding combat which doesn't feel as fluid as Revengeance but still manages to be a rewarding experience. The God of War world still looks spectacular and the bosses huge if not relatively easy to defeat until much later in the game.
Multiplayer should prolong the action a little longer which should make up for a solid but not amazing single campaign. God of War fans will be happy with what Ascension serves up on the whole, but if it steps out on the next generation Sony console it might need something more than multiplayer to re-invigorate a series that has already been exhausted over seven games.
God of War Ascension release date: Out now
God of War Ascension price: £39.99