I’ll be perfectly honest, when the credits began to roll after God of War 3 ended, I was perfectly content. I figured Sony would let Kratos go on an extended vacation and frankly, I was okay with that. So while I wasn’t too surprised to see Kratos back in action for God of War: Ascension, I can’t say it really piqued my interest. It’s to Sony’s credit that they wore me down when the marketing machine began to ramp up leading to the demo’s release a few weeks ago. After playing through the demo, they may have made another believer out of me.
One thing is for sure, Sony Santa Monica has somehow managed to draw even more power out of the PS3 because Ascension looks even better than its predecessor. It’s evident that this studio knows what they’re doing with the technology in this machine and it gets me excited to think what they’re going to be capable of on the new system. The level of detail alone on Kratos is staggering as in the opening minutes when you see him chained up, you can see the dirt, grime, and cuts on his body in stunning detail. Sure, that sounds gross the way I described it, but it’s really amazing to see with such clarity in a video game.
The sense of scale has been kept from God of War 3 and it even seems like they’ve pushed the system harder to advance beyond those impressive Titan battles. In the demo alone, the entire prison seems to be built in/on the Hekatonkheires, who is being punished by the Furies for breaking a blood oath to Zeus. There are many moments in the demo where the stage will break apart either due to it’s giant hands ripping off sections with you in it, or these strange hand creatures doing the dirty work. The amazing part is seeing the section of the level you’re in being moved around in conjunction with the rest of the level. Since the level takes place essentially on a living creature, you’ll constantly see the stage shifting and moving which couldn’t have been an easy feat to pull off.
In terms of gameplay, I think God of War fans won’t find too much different with Ascension. The game continues to feature tight controls and big action. While the majority remains the same, there are a few notable additions. The first being able to pick up the weapons that your enemy leaves behind in addition to the chain blades. While it’s cool to be able to do this, I never really found myself wanting to switch off from the chain blades to use a sword or spear. it’s nice to have the option, but for me, I didn’t find it practical in the demo. Who knows, maybe it’s more fleshed out in the full game.
Kratos also comes with a “rage meter” that allows him to utilize a new set of moves once it’s full. It wasn’t explained in great detail but essentially, attacking enemies will fill the meter and getting hit will lower it. The effects will automatically take effect once full and will remain active until you take damage. What this meter does is increase your damage and open up additional moves. I heard it also ties into different elemental attacks, but none of that was active/available in the demo so I’m unable to comment directly. Based on what I played, I didn’t see any dramatic difference with or without it.
The other addition to combat is the ability to grapple enemies and continue to attack them. By grappling onto an enemy, you’re given a few different options. You can use some traditional moves such as throwing them or now you can continue to move around attacking while keeping them chained at the same time. It’s a smaller addition, but one that actually came in handy during my playthroughs.
Interestingly enough, I can’t recall Kratos really saying much of anything through the entire demo. Seems a bit strange considering all of the lines he spoke in the third game. Going along with that, the sound didn’t really stick out either now that I think about it. Hopefully the sound design from the demo isn’t representative of the final product as it just seemed to lack any sort of impact.
There’s really not much to dislike from what I played in the demo. At it’s base level, it’s God of War. You know what you’re getting with this title in terms of gameplay, violence, and set pieces. After playing the demo, I have little doubts that the team at Sony Santa Monica hasn’t crafted a fantastic single player experience. While I’m still not fully sold on the multiplayer, I’m confident that the single player once again will be top notch.
Thankfully, we don’t have too much longer to wait as God of War: Ascension hits Playstation 3 on March 12.