God of War: Ascension is the latest game in the God of War series, featuring our angry Spartan warrior Kratos. Set before the events of the original trilogy, we are introduced to various aspects of Kratos that were not seen previously. With all that said, how does the latest Kratos adventure stack up against his previous entries?
Today we bring George Sinclair who reviewed Ascension and myself together, as we speak about Ascension’s quality. Covering the new narrative, how the set-pieces stack up against the original, if combat has evolved for the better and Ascension‘s introduction of multiplayer.
George Sinclair: I found God of War Ascension to be very hollow and by that I mean it felt like a God of War game had it been handled by another studio. As my review would dictate, I didn’t really like it but I do hold the God of War franchise very close to my heart.
What Ascension felt like was Santa Monica Studio and Sony thinking “Dang, we haven’t had a new God of War since 2010! Make one quickly.” With the PS4 coming up, I like to think this is where we’ll see God of War IV. Ascension didn’t necessarily feel rushed, it just felt half-arsed. It had some cool ideas like the multiplayer but generally, it was everything we’d seen in GOW III.
Jamie Briggs: I completely mirror your thoughts, during the first third of the game it felt like this was someone else take on the God of War franchise. I kept thinking this feels like a new studio, keeping the general God of War theme but changing it in a way that didn’t feel right. I loved God of War III because it gave so much variation, in combat, in boss fights and in general, Ascension seemed to lack what made 3 so special.
I felt one of my biggest problems was combat, coming from a player who barely uses the Blades of Chaos during III, preferring to use the other weapons on offer. Forcing us to use one weapon with slightly different powers throughout the entire experience, was a very poor choice. It kept combat repetitive and even using the different powers didn’t seem to make combat anything less, but a chore.
George Sinclair :I actually liked the combat in Ascension. It was simplified but it still offered variation with your attacks like with the ability to change elements mid-strike. I thought it was a nice touch. What I didn’t really like was how the enemies were able to momentarily incapacitate Kratos and leave him open to attack. Enemies swarm you like they did in the other games but I don’t remember being backed into a corner and not being able to attack because I’m being beaten continuously.
Jamie Briggs: Maybe it is the fact I never enjoyed the feel of the Blades of Chaos, they just never felt powerful and limiting us to only using them felt like a step backwards. I also agree with your point, I found in a game like DmC I am able to start an attack, cancel mid-way and then attack any new oncoming threat. In Ascension it felt like once you started doing a combat motion, you couldn’t cancel out until it finished, that felt like another step backwards.
What did you think of the story? I know personally I found myself pretty much lost for the first half of the game, I didn’t know why I was doing what it told me to do. That said it did pick up in the second half, it felt like an experience that the more you played the more it rewarded you.
George Sinclair: I like to think of Ascension‘s story as a series of fights with the occasional cut scene. As I said in my review, the motive of revenge in this series is a very common tool for driving a story forward and we see it all the time. God of War has always been very good at taking revenge and using it well.
Kratos’ plight against the Furies wasn’t well done I don’t think. In these games, you don’t learn the story as you go. The game tells you the story through the cut scenes which were sparse in number so I found it very difficult to remember what was going on half the time.
Jamie Briggs: God of War III impressed me because it always had something fresh, memorable boss fight, great locations, amazing set pieces. Ascension seems to just lack, as I said before the more you played the better it became. But I feel III set such a high bar that it is really hard to go beyond that, you stating the story was hard to follows mirrors my experience.
George Sinclair: Yeah I think with the God of War series, the visual spectacle always gets better and crazier with every game so nothing really wow’d me as previous games had. If I had to nail it into one word, it would be lackluster.
Now of course, Ascension has something no other God of War game has had before – multiplayer. I found it to be quite a surprise when it was announced. I think they had some cool idea’s but it was hard to find a match and even when you did get in, it just turns into a button mashing frenzy.
Jamie Briggs: So far we sound fairly negative on the game, its not that I think the game was bad. I quite liked it when I finally took the disc out of the console, I just feel like these criticisms need to be made because it definitely felt like a God of War entry that didn’t bring much to the table.
But as you said it did bring multiplayer, finding a game was the biggest gripe of the entire package. If you didn’t have full games, it wouldn’t start and people would give up on lobbies very quickly, was a never-ending cycle of waiting for a game. When I was in, I found when connection was good, it turned into quite an interesting addition. Sure some battles did turn into button mashing competitions, but I did find myself enjoying the package. Problem was, I never saw myself investing time in the multiplayer. Sure it was fun, but it wasn’t enough to keep me around long.
George Sinclair: Well I did give it a 6.7 so I did find quite a few bits wrong with the game. When I finished it I remember just being glad it was done.
It was fun when the ball got rolling but the biggest problem was that the game needed the lobby to be full. I don’t mind playing against two or three guys if I have to, I just want to play the game. However, the multiplayer set pieces did look pretty fantastic at times. The giant Cyclops still amazes me.
Jamie Briggs: That is the most realistic Cyclops kill gaming has ever seen, I am not afraid to make that claim. I 100% agree though, sitting there waiting for 1 player for ages just isn’t fun. We go to multiplayer to play the game, not sit around waiting.
Overall, I am just not sure the game was needed. I can understand one last hoorah for the mighty Kratos on PlayStation 3, but was it necessarily needed? I don’t think so.
George Sinclair: As I pointed out in my review, I really felt like Ascension was put out just so Santa Monica and Sony could have another God of War game on the PS3 before the next-gen launches. I think the game would have been better suited to the PlayStation Vita instead because y’know, we need Vita games.
So that was our thoughts on God of War: Ascension, what are yours? Do you agree that Ascension wasn’t needed? Did you enjoy the multiplayer? Let us know in the comments below.
George Sinclair is an editor for Analog Addiction, the home of the latest news, reviews and previews. You can find George on Twitter and his blog on IGN. Be sure to follow the OFFICIAL Analog Addiction Twitter as well. Jamie Briggs manages Analog Addiction and you can like them on Facebook, follow his daily life on Twitter @JamieAA and his videos on YouTube.