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A decent effort; but could've been better
on December 10, 2013
Just a quick side story, I've literally followed all the God of War games from God of War 1 on the PS2 to Ascension. To be honest, my favorite God of war games were God of War 1, 2, Ghosts of Sparta and GOW3. (though I enjoyed God of War 3 less than previous efforts)
Anyway, here's my review-
Graphically, God of War Ascension's a mixed bag. When you first play the game's first level, it looks amazing. It also introduces a strange layer of motion blur that gives it more of a cinematic feel and it's good to actually see a full sized Kratos all scarred up from being chained up or from past battles.
The backgrounds are nicely done too, even though they do not compare to past God of War games (just think about the first time you experienced God of war 2 or 3 for that matter. The scale of the games even with a fixed camera angle is impressive), and some levels I really didn't care for, but then there were other levels such as the furnace that looks incredible. (especially with the fire effects)
The enemies are also something I wasn't too crazy about. The problem is, they're mostly the same enemies spammed in waves which boils down to Goat-men, a Harpy or two tossed in, a Giant spartan looking guy with a big hammer, bigger goat-men, every now and then some dogs and snake women, which you'll all fight throughout the game and they really aren't detailed enemies or cool looking in any way.
But every now and then Ascension does toss in Huge Elephant creatures, Cyclops, Snake women (Medusa) and some ghost-like purplish creatures that revert to solid form once you grab them.
One of the things I did like a lot about the graphics in Ascension is after executing mini bosses such as a Cyclops or an Elephant man, you'll see their intestines spill out whilst a pool of blood wooshes out their cut-open belly, or you'll see an Elephant man's Brain and spinal column after ripping it's face apart. There are also the little touches like slashing a Boss' giant hand and the cut still remaining intact that I thought was cool.
Execution although brutal looking in this game do not compare to the likes of God of War 3 or God of War 1. (Remember defeating the Sea Serpent by pulling it's heads down on sharp wooden pikes? Or in GOW3 when you got to remove eyeballs?)
The cutscenes are mostly in real time, but there are actual cutscenes that look dull and generic with mostly just dialogue and stills.
My last quirk with this game lies in the motion blur that I actually gave credit to earlier.
While Motion Blur looks nice in this game and does add a little something, sometimes it just looks very odd looking, especially up close when Kratos performs a roll and he has that odd blur following slower than usual. This is a classic example of motion blur being overdone at times. What was wrong with how GOW3 looked?
I really don't have anything bad to say about the sound other than the music just being the forgettable factor in Ascension. The voice acting is superb as usual and the sound effects are a tad different. You can really hear Kratos chain as he swings the Blades of Chaos, and enemies sound pretty cool.
Something about Ascension stops me from giving it a higher score than 3/5, and if I could, I'd give it a 3.5/5 for the following reasons.
Ascension has good puzzles and lots of platforming at times, I didn't particularly care for the QTE chain grappling or some of the QTE's being that some of those QTE events are going to be the reason why you even die in the game. Even on the hardest difficulty.
Let me elaborate further on this issue. Ascension is NOT a hard game at all. You'll always win in combat scenarios but during certain boss battles there are QTE events that you can fail. Sadly, failing these QTE events doesn't punish you much; and the difficulty settings only tweak the time you'll have to get QTE's right and how much damage Kratos takes.
The boss battles also are more about timing or insanely mashing the attack button and never anything in the middle. For example, the first boss is ridiculously easy and has a "1, 2, 3 ,4" timing scheme.
The boss battles are also less memorable in my opinion.
There's also the combat system which completely takes away all the cool moves Kratos normally has available in other games by upgrade, and instead gives you these moves if you use Rage (which is done by pressing in both analog sticks), I wasn't particularly crazy about this change, especially considering the game uses a Devil May Cry combat system in which you'll have to constantly land hits on an opponent to fill the rage meter, but this can be hard considering some regular enemies cannot be hit and block you without even guarding. Take for example, fighting Juggernauts in this game who cannot be hit for a long time and there's really no indication as to when to hit them. You'll simply just land a hit on them after they take 8-10 seconds or more attacking you or trying to squash you from above.
I won't touch on the story since I do not like spoiling anything for anyone that doesn't have the game, but in a nutshell, the story's just decent and centers around Kratos exacting revenge on The Furies.
Also, the combat system features elemental attacks like Lightning, Fire, Ice and Hades. The upgrade system is also surprisingly easy and you'll also find some items which aren't available for use during your first playthrough that's a nice bonus. There's also multiplayer which I think I've played once and didn't really care for it.
If you can get this game cheap then by all means buy it, however, I'd have to say after finishing it, I wasn't really impressed. I loved the puzzles, the platforming was decent as well, the graphics are really good, but the boss battles and story fell flat in my opinion. Hopefully, Santa Monica will get the next game right.
Overall score- 7.5/10