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God of War: Ascension Review

God of War is a franchise that was built around telling a story wrapped in Greek mythology/lore and visceral combat. In typical fashion Ascension gives the player control over Kratos as he seeks revenge against the gods for countless acts of lying and essentially “pulling the wool over the eyes” of Kratos; all in the game of strengthening the grip the Gods of Olympus have over mankind. Ascension plays very much the same as other God of War titles; all while telling a story that takes place before the events of the entire series. Before the blood oath was broken, before the war on Ares came about. Before Kratos became the God slayer. One area that drew up some major concern was the added multiplayer, but it actually turned out to be phenomenal. But more on that aspect later.

By far Ascension has the best combat in the franchise; simply amazing how this series just gets better with every new installment. Sony Santa Monica ditched trying to make more weapons in an attempt to broaden the arsenal of Kratos. However, The Blades of Chaos are all you need. Enhancing them is really the only logical step needed; which is exactly what you can do in Ascension. Leveling them up individually, layered with magic gathered throughout the story. This becomes so satisfying when applying your experience in battle! For the simple fact that combos have NEVER BEEN MORE FLUID AND SATISFYING! Seriously, Kratos seems so agile…kinda like Hulk had a baby with a howler monkey, that in turn invented its own crazy fluid massacre filled dance moves. One piece of the God of War pie happens to be the magnificent set pieces. Everything, always feels so incredibly epic. In all aspects of the word. Scale and scope is tremendous and while games such as DMC allows the player to control the camera directly, Ascension followed the traditional God of War style of  "WE WILL SHOW YOU WHAT WE WANT YOU TO SEE”. Anywho, realizing you’re just a speck on the back of a mountain sized creature…jaw dropping. Especially when that creature is moving and shifting the landscape continuously as enemies’ rain in…to disembowel you. This does present one problem. Kratos can…and WILL get lost in the mob from time to time. But you could adjust to it and once you start to "expect it" there problem somewhat goes away. Pacing was right on key as well, never forcing the player to spend too much time haphazardly grinding or platforming.

Speaking of the aforementioned “epic”-ness, all of the sounds coming from…well…everything/everywhere just exudes a brilliance that embodies God of War. Such passion is easily detectable throughout Ascension. As Kratos interacts with the world around him it responds with great auditory feedback. There’s never a moment of wasted sound; especially with the music, powerful orchestral beats whenever in battle, but then turn softer whenever the mood deems it fit. Next to gameplay God of War has become known for the incredible audio prowess of Sony Santa Monica studios. Pulling in a full set orchestra to make the soundtrack. Don’t think the sounds of battle aren’t amazing as well. Tearing through flesh, moving stone around, using enemies as shields/battering rams/weapons against other beasties match the visceral gameplay perfectly. Transitioning this to the spoken dialog works out fantastically as well. Kratos doesn’t run around just yelling at people and all the other characters have amazingly wonderful vocal work.

Now this game is ugly….Because it is a hardcore, bloody, gory, grotesque mess of body parts flying in all directions while Kratos is ripping through the wave after wave of death crazed badies. Wait, you all didn't think i meant bad...did you? Anyway, this game looks stunning in so many regards. Kratos comes across as the most real he has ever been. Asthetically speaking Ascension paints a tremendous world based on ancient Greece. The only problem is tied to the combat. Kratos is the "Ghost of Sparta" his skin makes it easy to lose him when the camera pans out to show off the jawdropping vistas. That being said though, Ascension is one of the best looking games on the PlayStation 3. Which is usual for this franchise.

This is an origin story for Kratos. Before any of the events from the previous games have happened. An interesting dilemma occurs here however. The story in Ascension is solid...on the good side of that even. On it's own it holds up, obviously it is stronger in conjunction with all the other games. Which is where the dilemma appears. This game has an unbelieveable amount of backstory build up. Meeting characters that never stepped foot into the world of Kratos' Greek epic and attempting to craft a compelling story that hopes you have (but also have not) played any of the previous God of War games. As someone who has played them all...including Betrayal...*shaking head* this makes for a little bit of mistaken identity (I guess thats how you would classify it). Chains of Olympus was the origin story before Ascension. There just seems to be conflict with the what happened before the events of the first game.

Of all Sony's franchises, God of War has always been one of the strongest for replaying several times over. From all the collectibles, to unlocking modes outside of the single player campaign and even "behind the scenes" videos. If you were good enough you could find a 1 800 number that you could call to hear Kratos. In this installment it is no different. Expect to be playing Ascension well past the end credits. Either mopping up trophies (Make a 1000 Hit Combo), going through the "Challenge Tower" or just wanting to blow off steam from a stressful day. You likely won't get everything the first time through. So you'll be getting plenty of bang for your buck.

God of War didn't seem to be the best candidate for adding a multiplayer component. Kratos just isn't the type of character to build a compelling/engaging deathmatch style around. Lucky, Sony saw something we didn't. Removing Kratos from the equation and allowing the player to create their own Greek badass. Mix God of War, Call of Duty, Power Stone and a dash of Soul Calibur and WHALAH! Ascensions multiplayer! You pick 1 of 4 Gods to pledge allegiance to, which gives you a weapon to specialize in, plus magic that is exclusive to that God, items/equipment that will have benefits to you based on the God you chose, and then level up. Your character levels up separately from your armor, weapons, abilities, skills and items. You spend your rank points on improving all of these further. There is so much to do and Sony announced that free updates will roll out to raise the level cap, add more weapons, armor, items, stages and more. Teamwork is also a must against some players. Working together can be crucial to winning. And don't try to go after revenge on your own too often. Know when you can't beat someone and get back up.  Of course there are free for all matchs, 2v2, 4v4 team and points based modes. So plenty to do here as well. So satisfying to see that this component actually was greatly implemented. While there was several initial hiccups with getting into a match, due to server crashes, but before this review was done updates rolled out that fixed most of those problems.

Score : 9/10

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