First look: God of War: Ascension (PlayStation 3)

We test the latest adventure featuring the vengeful Spartan warrior

The God of War series holds an interesting place in Sony’s first party software line-up. The first game came out quite late in the PlayStation 2 lifecycle in 2005, but it garnered enough sales and critical acclaim that a sequel came out. That sequel, God of War II, was notable that it came out on the PlayStation 2 in 2007 and not on the PlayStation 3, which had been launched a year earlier.

The rage rises

While a different publisher may have transferred the title’s development to the newer platform, Sony thought it was wiser to finish off the game in its current state and release it to the large install base of the PlayStation 2. However, this meant that PlayStation 3 owners missed out on an enjoyable first party game in what was overall an unremarkable year for Sony’s new console. 2010’s God of War III brought the franchise into the HD era by appearing on the PlayStation 3 and it was a welcome sight.

Not only did the game benefit from a significant visual upgrade, the game also expanded its scale in the process. The story from the earlier two games continued, bringing about a successful conclusion to the series. With most of the major Greek gods already slain by the protagonist, the Spartan warrior known as Kratos, the question was what developer Santa Monica Studios would do for future games in the series.

Before the fall

They overcame this hurdle by making God of War: Ascension a prequel to the entire God of War series. Kratos’ journey to destroy Ares, the God of War, and the other Olympian Gods was born from his unwitting murder of his wife and child, and the game is set six months after the event. Whether it was done intentionally to capture to the feel of the original God of War, God of War: Ascension is a very raw experience.

While more weapons and abilities were added with each subsequent game, God of War: Ascension strips that all away to leave Kratos alone with his chained knives. The game still features upgrade paths for the weapons, but it is merely limited to elemental based attacks. While the original trilogy of games featured various levels of story progression, God of War: Ascension has stripped this back as well, with Kratos rarely speaking throughout the experience.

Time for war

More than any God of War that came before it, the focus of God of War: Ascension is entirely around the platforming, puzzle solving, and combat, particularly the latter. The “back-to-basics” approach of the game may be a bit jarring for fans used to more weapons and abilities, but the rest of the game makes up for it.

Pros

- Amazing level of detail in graphics.

- Elemental based weapons add a new level of strategy.

- Just as bit as epic in every regards at God of War III.

Cons

- The story is relegated to the background.

- Kratos’ abilities and armour is significantly stripped back.

Bottom Line

God of War: Ascension is a highly polished third person adventure that excels on all levels.

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Patrick Budmar

Patrick Budmar

PC World
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