God of War Ascension Review

Posted: March 20, 2013 in Reviews
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Oh God of War DAMMIT! It has not been a good period for sequels. Halo 4 felt like an emotional step back after the wonderful games that were ODST and Reach. Dead Space 3 felt quite bland and unfocused after the two previous terrifying character driven games (don’t even get me started on the micro transaction pushing agenda). Resident Evil 6 was just…I meant seriously, what the actual fuck was that?! And Skyrim , although great, failed to soar to the magical, interesting, enchanting heights of its predecessor. And even though it was superior than its prequel, New Vegas was crippled by game breaking bugs at launch.

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So it is with a heavy, but unsurprised heart, to announce that GOW Ascension falls short of the mark when compared to its previous iterations.

Now just to clarify GOW Ascension is not a bad game. Indeed I wouldn’t describe any of the games mentioned on the list above as ‘bad’. All of them I really enjoyed. They just all seemed to take a step back from bars that were set so high by the originals.

So let’s get started! The way I look at GOW Ascension is that it is a bland by the numbers experience book ended by two classic, breath-taking and momentous boss fights. Seriously, the opening of the game had my heart in my mouth and my eyes popping out my skull. Not only were the visuals stunning but the boss fight was on a whole other level! You thought the Colossus was big? You aint seen nothing until you go toe to toe (or arm to arm) with the Hecatonchres! And equally impressive was the end game boss. Don’t worry I won’t spoil anything here. Suffice to say it is on par with the opening one.

Now onto my gripes. Very near the beginning of the game there is a stunning set piece where Kratos has to control 3 giant snake statues to gain access to the Oracle’s tower. And then that is pretty much the game done for huge typical GOW sets. Everything else after this feels very scaled down and minute compared to the opening hours of the game. There is a point near the end of the game where you are scaling a huge statue, but you do it only bit by tiny bit and you’re constantly popping in and out of it so you never truly get a sense of its scale.

I take issue with the music too. The usual GOW score is here and pops up in appropriate places. Other than that there are so many instances where there is no sound at all. Bar the sound of Kratos’ sandals slapping on the floor. Seriously there were a couple of points where I thought my game was glitched as I was fighting some battles in silence. So the whole music thing was a slight bugbear that took me out of the experience somewhat.

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Combat was fine. There is not a lot else I can say about that really. If you’ve played a GOW game before all the usual combos are here. All the buttons do what they did in previous games. Again my slight issue with this aspect of the game was that I felt the magic that Kratos used wasn’t as effective or as impressive as it was in the other games. My final issue with the combat isn’t down to the actual mechanics but rather the camera angles. Often during the game when you are fighting (usually during a boss fight) the camera will pan so far out that you physically cannot see what you are doing. And you leave your life in fates hands as you button mash and hope you don’t die. Seriously it would be the same as if the game just faded to black for ten seconds. It’s THAT obscuring. On Normal and easy this is just annoying. However on the two highest difficulty settings where a couple of hits can finish you, I’d imagine it’s downright mind numbingly infuriating.

The actual gore and violence itself retains its over the top crimson splattered glory. Gutting the brain of one of the huge elephant enemies is a highlight. As is using your blades to inflict splitting headaches on the medusas. However there are a couple of areas in the game where the violence is just plain out thuggish and nasty, and I found myself, as I did in GOW 3, losing all sympathy for Kratos. There is only so much of watching a large man recklessly stomping a woman’s face into the floor I feel comfortable watching. It doesn’t happen as often as in the third game but it happens often enough near the end that I didn’t want to watch anymore.

My final issue and I felt this was a bit of a biggie, was the QTE’s. I have no problem with them at all. HOWEVER there is a point in a fight near the end of the game where I was stuck for about 15 minutes because the game threw a new QTE action at you without even explaining what it was you needed to do. After 15 minutes of constantly dying I finally resorted to the internet to find out what to do and I was relieved to find I wasn’t the only one having trouble with this section. But you know what the clincher is? This action never pops up again? It is only ever used twice in the entire game and both times are in this boss fight. WHATS THE FUCKING POINT?!?!?

I would like to end this review on a positive note as it feels like I’ve done nothing but tear this game a new one. The puzzles in the game are genuinely satisfying. They bring in some new ideas (think Singularity’s time shifting mechanic) and for the most part they all work really well. A couple had me scratching my head for some time but I never felt frustrated or cheated. Some of them were honestly on par with some of Zelda’s finest. This is definitely the most puzzle heavy GOW out of the lot and if the puzzles were bad or felt tacked on this would probably be a negative thing but, like I said, they were pretty good fun.

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In conclusion God of War Ascension was a good game that I did enjoy. It wasn’t great but it wasn’t bad. It was however the weakest game that has been put out under the name (and considering two of those games were on the PSP that says something). Puzzles were fun, combat was standard, violence was hit and miss (HAHAHAHAHA) and the two boss fights that framed the game were incredible. So take from that what you will. If you enjoy GOW you will find things to like in this title. Just don’t expect it to break the mould or reinvent the wheel in any way.

EDIT; this is also the first GOW game to NOT feature an interactive sex game! EPIC FAIL!!!

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