God of War: Ascension | Zombiegamer Review


In short

God of War: Ascension offers a familiar singleplayer experience to that of the previous games. The singleplayer package is a refinement on the previous games rather that a complete overhaul. Where this one is unique, and will possibly enjoy a more lasting appeal, is the multiplayer that is both enjoyable and extensive.

Developer: Sony Santa Monica
Publisher: SCE
Distributor: SterKinekor
For fans of: The series, action, platformers
Reviewed on: Playstation 3
Also available on: N/A
If we had to give it a numerical score: 8.5/10

What I loved

  • Visual improvements
  • Solid mechanics
  • Polished production
  • Multiplayer

Not so much

  • Familiar singleplayer experience


Gameplay and Features

While the gameplay mechanics are totally familiar, you will notice some additions and some refinement. There are even some new features like raging moves, but the core mechanics remain familiar. Why would the developers change something that works so well after all? The basic attacks, the combos, the puzzle bits, it all seems very familiar at first glance.

However after a few hours, once you have pealed through the familiar bits, you begin noticing that the mechanics have been polished up some. You can still mash away by randomly working through the inputs, but now more than before, it seems that the mechanics favour more thought, slower input and a little more precision rather that hacking away. The attacks string together a little more effortlessly, without needing to bash away at the buttons. The fighting flows a little smoother and the combos string together a little less randomly, and a little more calculated.

The platforming also looks more impressive due to the brilliant camera work, describable as the next level of platforming. The levels are far from obvious and the climbing around takes places at various angles, more that I have seen.

The series has always featured grand boss fights, but Ascension seems to feature more than with the previous games. The boss fights seemed a little more frequent and more epic than with the previous games. The boss fights’ designs are amongst the very best. The design follows the sequenced mechanics, but the mechanics are pleasing and some even a little surprising.

I was also pretty surprised with the multiplayer design. I suspected it would be forced, thrown into the mix to add value, as they are nowadays. This is not the case though. The multiplayer is both unique and well designed, making for a proper option. Players can partake in multi-players battles in various modes, but with weapons and a fairly deep progression system. There are modes where players work together like a ‘horde’ mode, others where you are up against each other and then a mixture of both. Players need to upgrade and unlock armour, weapons and magic with the progression system and level up. In the prelude tutorial, players align themselves with a god, choosing from the various Greek gods who offer different advantages. The gods provide you with secondary attacks like magic. The different arenas you battle in throw different elements at you, like the floors randomly falling from under your feet to the “gods intervening,” throwing all sorts of elements at you.

I was pleasantly surprised by just how good the multiplayer design is, and how much I enjoy it. It does not feel obligatory, there’s plenty of substance here and the code is solid. I can see myself frequenting the online lobbies, as opposed to having a go every now and then. This is one of the only quintessential series that is loved for its singleplayer offerings, which has ventured into the online multiplayer arena and actually pulled it off.


Sound and Visuals

God of War 3 was one of the best looking games, if not the best on Sony’s console. Ascension is not just a little more impressive; the leap forward absolutely blows my mind. Ascension is remarkable in all the areas that the third game was, but I was blown away by how much more remarkable it is. From the opening scene where the game goes from a scripted cinematic sequence into a QTE or gameplay – I thought I was still watching a rendered scene. This factor kept surprising me, how amazingly smooth the visuals were, and how close in quality the cinematic sequences were compared to actual gameplay visuals.

Santa Monica really show off what the Playstation 3 can do. I remember with the original Playstation in the early days. I would watch the opening cinematic scene and think that it looked amazing, until the visuals were turned down a few notches as you jumped into the game itself. The gap was huge. Ascension is one hell of a fine example of how this area has evolved. All credit to Santa Monica for the execution in this area. Absolutely stunning!

Another key area with the visuals that really impresses in Ascension is the camera angles, which are further enhanced with excellent panning and zooming. The panning, zooming and camera angles help create the illusion of the grandness of the worlds that the game takes place. Everything looks huge and the battles look more dynamic than ever thanks to the great camera work. This was not the case with the previous games, and while I could see what the developers were trying to do, until Ascension I don’t quite think they got it right. I mean the battles take place in different lengths, levels and even adverse angles because of the extremely well done camera angles – as far from linear as you could hope for. I would still prefer having control of the camera with the right analogue stick as is the case with most third-person games, but the game stays with the right stick being used to dive. And yes, there are still those disorientating moments where the camera view is not quite comfortable, but this aspect has been improved.

The sound quality is much like the previous games. The orchestral score compliments the theme and mood of the game. The score was masterfully crafted and the atmosphere largely benefits from this. The sound-effects, again, are of a top notch quality as is the voice-acting and wonderful dialogue, unique to the “gods of Greek mythology” theme. If anything, Ascension seems a little more eerie to me, the creatures you face seem a little creepier sounding. But this could just be because I was more immersed with this installment.


Closing comments

While Santa Monica played it a little safe with the gameplay, the mechanics do feel somewhat smoother, a little tweaked and more refined. The campaign pretty much offers what the previous games did, so in the end I would say if you have loved the games before it, you will love this one for the same reasons, and a little more because of the refinement. The surprisingly good multiplayer also means this does not need to be a short-lived affair.

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