'God of War' continues to smash, entertain
March 26, 2013
“God of War: Ascension” is a solid addition to the franchise. It explores the Greek warrior Kratos’ history and explains his motivations in the series’ original trilogy.
You play as Kratos, and the story opens with him imprisoned in the Hecatonchires, being tormented by one of the Furies. After breaking away from her, you discover that Kratos doesn’t remember the events leading to his imprisonment. However, Kratos finds an artifact that begins to jog his memory. This starts a noir-style method of storytelling that sends Kratos switching between current events and the recent past.
For me, the attraction of “God of War” games is the story. Although definitely blown out of proportion, the rich use of Greek mythos compelling and definitely worthy of the over-the-top cinematics that fans of the franchise have come to expect. I was excited to come back to the controller and find out what’s around the next inevitably blood-soaked bend.
That said, however, playing as the greatest Spartan general who ever lived and being equipped with the mystically imbued Blades of Chaos straight from the gaping maw of Tartarus deminishes the feeling that you could be killed at any moment. In fact, it's nearly nonexistent. The only time I ever felt a little antsy about my survival possibilities was during boss fights. Even then, you fight under your own control only about 40 percent of the time. The majority of boss fights are actually cinematic events you play through by pushing the right button at the right time.
I wanted to take some time and explore the cinematic events. I am not a fan of this type of game mechanic. So when I ran into it for the first time in “Ascension,” I’ll admit I was a little disappointed.
The options don’t involve set button combos. So if you fail during an event, your next play-through offers a completely different set of buttons to press. I’m also willing to give “God of War” some slack because there would be no other way to pull off the scope of some of these fights in a satisfying way. Sure, they could have you standing on a platform dodging the different attacks, then mashing buttons to counter. However, in order to pull you in, they really needed to show Kratos swinging around the skyscraper-size tentacle or portray the unbelievable height of a Titan.
There are other gripes I have about the game in general, too.
I ran into a glitch that nearly crippled my run through the game completely. The camera system in “Ascension” is on a rail the entire way. While there are some benefits to this mechanic, there are also some problems. In one instance, the camera can get caught between rails. This happened right at a checkpoint for me, so had to reload the entire chapter.
Another concern came from the environmental puzzles. I just couldn’t hit that R1 button at the right time in certain situations. Environment traps like that definitely killed me more often than any giant elephant did.
But looking past these small glitches, and the occasional frustrating puzzle, the game was a definite success in my book.
“God of War” has got something great going. They have an amazingly successful formula, and there is no need to change it. Cut out what players don’t like, improve on what they do like, and throw in a few goodies along the way.
Platform: PlayStation 3