22 June 2014 | bgood444
God of War: Ascension Review
For all you Kratos fans out there, the big man is back and yes, he is still in need of some anger management therapy. The game creators at Santa Monica Studios have spun the wheel of time and have taken us as far back as we have yet been in Kratos' journey. Chronologically speaking, Ascension takes place before all the other existing titles in the series. Before the game was released, I was excited when I heard that the next God of War installment was going to be a prequel and that it was to be called Ascension. I immediately assumed that this was going to be the playable origin story of Kratos that we have been introduced to time and time again in the previous games. Unfortunately not long after getting into the story, I realized that the unfolding tale was not so much the origin of Kratos that I had hoped for.
Yes, throughout the game there are glimpses of Kratos' origin and reference to what happened to his family, but no more than what we've been shown in the previous games. Instead we are given a story about a blood oath that Kratos has broken with Ares, the god of war. Ares then sends the three Furies after him to uphold his oath and punish him for what he's done. The Furies are three immortal sisters who each possess a unique power to help them with their task of enforcing honour.
Being a long-time fan of the franchise, I couldn't wait to get back into the fast, fun, and fluid combat that each God of War title has brought forth thus far. I was extremely pleased to see that this has not changed in Ascension. With the ability to string painstakingly long combos together to completely obliterate the enemy, I spent hours enjoying the process of trying button sequence after button sequence to figure out which of Kratos' moves I liked best. Of course, battling an opposing boss the size of a sky scraper wouldn't be complete without the signature QTE that encapsulates the player and helps to show the scale of the ginormous creatures Kratos goes up against. The QTE in Ascension are perfectly planted and provided me with enough challenge to have to retry them every once in a while but at the same time never feeling unfair or unresponsive.
Even though the precision of the combat was equally as impressive as its predecessors, Ascensions fails in a couple areas that the other titles did not. The adventure that we are sent out on in this game feels really unnecessary in the scope of the series as a whole. It feels as though the outcome of the story has no real bearing on what happens in Kratos' future. Most of the cut scenes are presented in a silhouette style and we don't get the same visually appealing experience as we are used to. These two mistakes caused me to really show a lack of interest in the story itself and only continuing on because of the satisfying combat. In regards to the combat, I felt that the lack of physical unlockable weapons in the game (such as Hercules' Nemean Cestus) which are replaced by magical abilities of the god's, is rather unsatisfying compared to the other games. The introductions of world weapons (a club, spear, sword, etc.) tries to make up for this but these generic weapons do not successfully replace the imaginative weapons that we are used to unlocking and upgrading. It felt somewhat lazy on the developers' part to use the god's of Olympus magical abilities that we have already seen and used so often, as the upgradable abilities for Kratos. It would have been nice to see a little bit more creativity from Santa Monica both in the storytelling and with the unlockable abilities they give to us.
If you are like me, a well versed God of War veteran having played through all previous titles in the series, then God of War Ascension is a must play. Even though a lack of creativity exists in comparison to what we are used to, you will no doubt been pulled in by the same entertaining, and precise combat that God of War fans have come to love and expect. For those who have not yet taken the plunge into Kratos' universe, my recommendation is to start with the original God of War title and play through the rest in the order that they were released. This will give you a better understanding of the story of Kratos and will captivate you in a way that only the best video games can. I know the story of God of War isn't finished yet and Ascension, although did not fully satisfy, has left me hungry for more.