The God of War franchise has always been a strange one for me. Although I have never played a single one of the five iterations, it has been a franchise I have appreciated watching from afar. I have enjoyed listening to my friends regal me of stories of rampaging through hordes of enemies set to a backdrop of Greek Mythology. I’m also sure I remember one podcast where Matt broke down his sexual quicktime event into possibly far too many words.
I have watched from the side lines as God of War has, arguably, become one of the PlayStations signature franchises whilst it’s protagonist has become an instantly recognisable character. When I saw that the franchise was being taking in a direction that has become an obvious choice for popular titles in both the video game and movie world – The Prequel – I was interested in how the story would evolve.
Did I want to start a franchise at the end, even if it was effectively the beginning, though? Not really. I was more than happy for Ascension to be added to my growing list of games I will play between now and purchasing next generation whether it was picking it up for a penny on eBay come post next gen release or picking it up as PlayStation Plus offering.
What do they say about the best laid plans? Due a technological disaster and the reviewing gods conspiring against me I find myself in possession of a disc with Kratos staring back at me. I guess I’m going back to the start before the beginning.
Talking to friends prior to today, I know what I am getting; there will be wave upon wave of enemies, there will be puzzles and platforming, there will be lots and lots of blood and there will be epic button mashing boss battles. I will at this point state that there was one particular moment in the game involving a boss battle where there was far too much mashing and far too much blood that I actually had to stop playing and do something else for an hour before resuming.
As a prequel, this is the story before Kratos went on a bender of blood thirsty rage and revenge against Ares, Zeus and any other God of Olympus that happened to look at him the wrong way. Ascension opens with Kratos imprisoned by three furies for breaking his oath to Ares. To cut a short story slightly shorter, you quickly learn that Ares with the help of three furies plans to overthrow Olympus and you are charged with stopping that from happening.
As far as gameplay goes, it is everything I expected from playing a God of War game. Talking to friends and colleagues I would assume that if you are a fan of the franchise you will feel right at home.
During the, roughly, 12-14 hours gameplay of the single player campaign you have the amazing Blades of Chaos equipped. This allows you to gain and utilise four differing elemental powers from the Gods. The Fire of Ares, The Ice of Poseidon, the Lightning of Zeus or the soul of Hades; each giving its own perks and additional damage to enemies.
Apparently there is a secondary weapon system within the game where you can scavenge the weapons of your downed foes or just pick up the weapons that someone has handily left lying around. The problem I found was that none of these weapons was half as much fun as the Blades of Chaos and within a couple of minutes of I had re-equipped them and was mashing away unleashing combo after combo on my hapless foes.
The ability to upgrade your health, weapons and magic along with the “Rage Meter” provide a small RPG element, and collectables within the single player campaign will keep the OCD sufferers among us coming back for more.
But this is only half the story. The other half is simply one of the biggest addition to the God of War franchise. The multiplayer, which although having some flaws, works exceptionally well. Offering four modes, you will be spending a lot of time here.
The most addictive of all of the modes is Favour of the Gods, which is where two teams of up to four players navigate the map collecting orbs, altars and of course killing your opponents in order to please the Gods and gain “Favour”. Trial of the Gods is cooperative time trial mode, Capture the Flag does exactly what it says on the tin whilst Champion of the Gods is an all blades swinging, take no prisoners, free for all version of “Favour”.
The combat is as fast paced in the Multiplayer as it is in the Single player campaign with every attack having a specific poker styled “tell” allowing you to counter and parry attacks allowing for some intense and interesting tactical fights rather than all out button mashing battles.
Graphically there are a number of remarkable set pieces which bring the wow factor in both single and multiplayer but these should be expected rather than surprising as we enter the crossover period where this generation showcase everything that can be achieved by pushing the hardware to its limit, before we effortlessly slide into the next generation.
Will God of War be joining us in the next generation? With the stories that have been told, probably not. For fans of the franchise ascension is to be enjoyed as possibly a farewell to a lovable world and character as Sony push the PlayStation 3 to its limits in its swansong. For all of you, like me, who have never experienced a God of War before this may just push you into picking up five new games – I know what I will be doing the day after the Year of Shame Challenge ends.
MLG Rating: 8/10 Platform: PlayStation 3 Release Date: 12/03/2013
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a physical copy of God of War Ascension for review purposes by the promoter. The title was reviewed over the course of five days on a PlayStation 3. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.