By Ricci Kearney
Video Game Reviews
9:30 AM EDT, September 30, 2013
Revenge. Vengeance. Retribution. Kratos has sought all three in his quest to free himself from the memory of murdering his wife and daughter while being manipulated by the gods of Olympus.
During Kratos' epic saga, he has challenged the Titans, defeated the gods and battled every creature in between. Now, in "God of War Ascension," Kratos must battle the one monster he has yet to defeat: his own sanity.
"God of War Ascension" is the prequel to the entire "God of War Saga" and it seeks to reveal a side of Kratos that the world has never known. Will he ascend into the Elysian Fields or be banished to Hades?
"God of War Ascension" takes place six months after Ares manipulated Kratos into murdering his wife and child and nearly a decade before the events of the original "God of War." Kratos has broken his blood oath with Ares and is serving eternity imprisoned by his own chains. Once he escapes, Kratos must find a way to sever the bond -- while battling being driven insane by the Furies. During this journey, players will gain a more human look at the man who ascended to become a god.
The presentation and polish that is synonymous with the "God of War Saga" is on full display in "God of War Ascension." It will be nearly impossible to find a game as beautiful in this console generation. Sony Santa Monica squeezed every bit of processing power out of the Playstation 3, making you wonder what the inevitable "God of War" sequel will look like on the Playstation 4. The cinematic feel of the game will keep the player enthralled for hours at a time. The only time I noticed any drop in frame rate is when the game was saving. Gone are the individual save points in the game. Sony Santa Monica wanted to create a truly immersive experience for the player, so the game will save on its own during gameplay.
All of the violent and gruesome kills that you remember are back and they are bloodier than ever. Kratos himself will even be covered in blood throughout battle. The monsters Kratos faces are even more disgusting and scary than ever before. Since this takes place shortly after Kratos made his oath to Ares, Kratos appears a bit leaner and slightly more human than he did in "God of War III," adding to the visual presentation of the game. The sound and music is also amazing, and creates a truly immersive experience. Players will find it almost impossible to tear themselves away from this game.
Combat has always been a central part of the "God of War Saga." Kratos and his Blades of Chaos have carved their way through countless numbers of demons, monsters, Gods, and Titans. Sony Santa Monica has updated the combat mechanics to be even more deadly. The quicktime events and blade combos that you remember are still in the game. Accompanying them are new mechanics that bring the player into the action.
Kratos can now tether himself to enemies while in combat, creating new and exciting combat scenarios. There are also promptless mini-games that bring the combat closer than ever. Once Kratos goes in for the final kill, some enemies will continue to fight back. Kratos can evade their advances, continue to attack, and deliver the final blow all in real time.
Kratos also has a new rage system that creates stronger and more powerful combos. There is a world weapon system where Kratos can wield the weapons of his enemies as a secondary attack that creates devastating combos with the Blades of Chaos. Without giving too much away, Kratos has access to a new variety of powers and magic attacks. Through gameplay, the Blades of Chaos will gain the elemental powers of fire, ice, lighting and soul that can each be upgraded separately. Each elemental also expels a specific color orb from your enemies, which can increase your health or magic XP.
With all the things that "God of War Ascension" does right, it falls short of a perfect score. While the story is interesting on its own and does delve more into Kratos the man, the story is not as good as others in the saga. Fans of the series have already lived the most dramatic parts of Kratos' life from murdering his family to having to push the spirit of his dead daughter away to committing suicide.
This story never resonated for me on any level and that was a disappointment. Another problem is the lack of variety in the enemies. While the bosses in the game are unique, Kratos is still facing the same Cyclopes and Cerberuses that he has defeated for years. It would be great to see some unique grunts for Kratos to destroy.
There also times where the gameplay will shift to a CGI cutscene. The transition can seem jarring and takes you out of the game for a moment. Certain set pieces and gameplay elements are repeated constantly throughout gameplay -- like Kratos sliding and maneuvering while avoiding obstacles that become repetitive and frustrating. Luckily, the visuals and gameplay are so good that you won't complain.
"God of War Ascension" is an absolute must buy for anyone who owns a Playstation 3. The visuals are out of this world and the gameplay is enthralling and fun. While the story and lack of unique enemies to face keeps this game form being perfect, "God of War Ascension" has to be in the lead for every Game of the Year award for 2013. The Playstation 3 is at the end of its life cycle, and "God of War Ascension" sets the bar high into the heavens.
"God of War Ascension" released March 12 as a Playstation 3 exclusive. Please stay tuned to GamerHub.TV as we will also be reviewing the groundbreaking multiplayer modes within the game.
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