“Did I ever tell you what the definition of insanity is? Insanity is doing the exact… same thing… over and over again expecting… shit to change… That. Is. Crazy.”, Vaas Montenegro, Far Cry 3.
No you haven’t stumbled on the wrong article, nor is this an error from our end. This is indeed our review of God of War: Ascension. But what does that iconic quote from last year’s Far Cry 3 have anything to do with it? Well, surprisingly, everything.
God of War: Ascension is the second in the series on the PS3. Considering that each game was infinitely better than the last, I was skeptical about how it could ever top the sheer insanity that was God of War 3. And if you’re not looking to add another God of War game to your collection, you’ll be relieved. Well, at least not for the single-player.
The game begins with Kratos in chains. He’s been imprisoned by Furies for breaking his blood oath to Ares, the god of war. Think of the Furies as those repo men who show up if you’re behind on your loan payments, add spider’s legs, shapeshifting and a nasty obsession for bald greek psychopaths. It’s but obvious that this results in a quadruple digit body count of monsters from Greek mythology complete with brutal executions, the odd topless encounter with ridiculously hot women and a few puzzles.
If you’ve ever played a God of War game, you’ll soon realise that there’s absolutely nothing you haven’t seen or done before. The sense of deja vu takes away from the proceedings. It doesn’t help matters that it looks rather rough in comparison to God of War 3 what with more than a few jagged edges and a jerky frame-rate. On the whole it feels like God of War 2.5 instead of a brand new adventure. The epic sense of scale and over the top action is lost partly due to the fact that rather than killing gods, you’re killing what’s best described as the B-side of the villain roster.
Furthermore, the combat system doesn’t do the game any favours either. Aside from the ability to add elemental properties such as fire, lightning and ice, it’s the same as it was in the earlier game. There are some additions in terms of navigation with Kratos learning a trick from Nathan Drake what with being able to climb walls and slide down paths while slicing down foes. However they don’t feel in-step with the gameplay and would be more at home in Tomb Raider or Uncharted.
So yes, by and large Ascension is a fairly by the numbers experience in campaign mode. It tries to do the same thing over and over again. With 5 prior games to this being as repetitive if not so, the sense of spectacle loses it’s lustre and Vaas’ words start making a lot of sense. Who knows what the nice people at Sony Santa Monica were expecting with such a humdrum effort. Madness.
Nonetheless, it’s not all lost. The multiplayer is pretty damn fine. It begins with you creating your own spartan (of the non-Master Chief variety of course). To do so you need to choose a god who would bestow you a set of skills. Feel like supporting and healing your fellow gods of war in battle? Go with Posiedon. Fancy lighting up your enemies with bolts of lightning? Zeus is just a button click away. Along with this are the usual mix of perks and levelling up that you’d expect in most modern day multiplayer affairs.
What makes the multiplayer such a refreshing change is that the combat is a lot more addictive and satisfying. It feels deep and relies on pure skill rather than wanton button mashing. The maps are well thought out and the outcome such where even if you end up on the losing team, you’re not going to stop playing.
As I mentioned earlier the graphics are a bit of a downgrade when compared to its precursor. But the art direction and dollops of gore keep you from noticing it too much. And while the game does its best to upstage itself, from a grand opening to sequences involving snakes and trains, it still manages to feel like blasé, cookie-cutter and done before.
All in all, Ascension is an unspectacular experience in single-player mode. Though if you’re willing to get online and duke it out with your friends, you’re in for a great time. Campaign junkies need not apply, as for them, it seems that Kratos is suffering from a dreaded case of series fatigue what with it being a far cry from what it should have been.
…that feel done to death
Nothing you haven’t already played before
Gameplay Progression: 6/10
Unique Selling Proposition: 7/10
This game was reviewed on the PS3 platform.
Release Date: March 13, 2013
Genre(s): Hack and slash, action-adventure
Publisher(s): Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: SCE Santa Monica