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God of War: Ascension Hands On Preview

Will Kratos' latest tale grow stale?

Upon learning about the direction of God of War: Ascension, I was hesitant to fully back this game. Instead of re-inventing the series, or continuing from the somewhat ambiguous ending of the third installment, Ascension was to be yet another prequel that would tell I was already familiar with. While the plot of the game still screams “useless filler” to me, my time with the game reminded me why God of War was so good to begin with. The absurdly high production values, a simple and stylish combat system, and larger than life set pieces in this thirty minute demo roused my interest in the series once again.

The demo opens up with an extreme close up of the ghost of Sparta himself. The quality and detail put into the facial features of Kratos reminded me of how brilliant the visuals in the God of War series have been. Though not the big, muscular brute he ended up being by God of War 3, Kratos is still Kratos and his anger and brutality prove it. The camera panned out to show Kratos in chains, held captive by one of three Furies, who are the main antagonists of the game. Upon interrogating Kratos, she gives enough cause for him to have to defend himself. While chained, there was a quick sequence where I had to dodge out of the way of her strikes, and use the environment to get free. After doing so, and with Kratos’ patented chained blades in hand (note that these aren’t the Blades of Chaos he’s wielded in past games), he takes off after this foe.

From what I experienced, Sony Santa Monica hasn’t made too many changes from the old formula, but rather makes some small enhancements to spice up the gameplay. The circle button now, instead of grabbing, is a Spartan Kick (a la 300) that sends enemies flying. This is also used to wield secondary weapons like swords that can be picked up off the ground or stolen from enemies. Grabbing has been remapped to R1, and can still be used in the middle of melee strings. When used normally though, Kratos will latches on to an enemy, yet retains the ability to attack other foes while engaged. This opens up a few unique combat options that didn’t exist before.

Aside from these few additions, combat remains quite familiar. Players will be able to use the basic light and heavy combos, launchers, and magic attacks as per usual. For me, the God of War combat system has always been satisfying, and nothing hits home more than setting up an air combo, leading to an air grab, and finishing with a vicious assault that leaves your foe ripped to shreds.

Platforming is much smoother and dynamic than it has been previously, at least in this demo. Instead of the janky platforming that was present in previous games, Ascension lets Kratos scale walls by only moving the Analog stick, rather than having to press X. This makes the experience much more fluid and less arduous than ever.

God of War wouldn’t be what it is without its massive, larger than life boss battles. While only a taste of what’s to come, the demo does boast one pretty large scale bout. The creature, which was the spawn of little larva sent out by our Fury foe, is the target of a multi-staged battle. Anyone familiar with boss battles in the God of War series will know what to expect, so though there were no necessary surprises, and this melee hit all of the beats that it should.

God of War: Ascension also boasts a multiplayer mode which I also managed to get my hands on earlier this year. The player controls a Spartan that can be customized with armor, and fighting style. Your fighting style all depends on which God you choose as your leader. More melee focused players might opt to be ruled by Ares, while more magic focused players might pick Zeus. It all depends on preference.

Multiplayer has different modes players can engage in, including a mode where you fight over control of different areas on a map – a la domination. Upon gaining enough points on these areas, you get the ability to deal a massive blow to a boss character that creates havoc for the players. My time with the multiplayer was better than expected, but it got old quick. Hopefully the final product provides more modes and variety to keep it interesting.

Before playing this demo for God of War: Ascension, I could care less about the title. In my eyes, the series ended with God of War 3. Afterwards however, I do feel a little bit of that itch coming back. The narrative still has a lot to prove with in the final product, but the solid mechanics and subtle changes make me want to experience the rage of Kratos just one more time. God of War: Ascension comes out on March 12th 2013 for the PlayStation 3.


 

Comments

Chris Yarger Community Manager

02/26/2013 at 10:33 AM

Awesome! I feel as if it would be hard to top GoW 2, but it seems as if the combat system reconfiguration will give Kratos a fresh feel!

Not too keen on the multiplayer apects though. But I suppose I'll just have to try it before I judge it.

Jon Lewis Staff Writer

02/26/2013 at 12:02 PM

Yeah, If anything, i think it will be a really good rental. 

asrealasitgets

02/26/2013 at 03:13 PM

The power stone type multiplayer looks like fun!Cool

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