The mechanics of the God of War
games are very well established by now and they are almost all present and correct here, with only a few tweaks.
The Blades of Chaos make a return as Kratos' signature weapons, but a nice addition to the fighting system is that some enemies will drop swords, shields and the like which you can pick up to use yourself. There are also a set of mystical artifacts to collect, each one is able to assist with puzzles as well as having an impact in combat.
Red, green, blue and gold orbs emit from defeated enemies and from certain chests, filling up experience, health, magic and rage meters. Meanwhile, gorgons' eyes and phoenix feathers extend health and magic capabilities. There is a puzzle involving deflecting a beam of light and there is a fight on a round elevator. There are elements of climbing, beam balancing and rope sliding to assist in navigating the environments.
The first part of the game is, of course, as epic as most other games' conclusions, this time set in a prison built upon and within the body of the Furies' first victim, Aegaeon the Hecatonchires, an immense creature with one hundred hands that Megaera infects with parasites to take control of his long dead body.
However, it's not all the same with different levels - there are some changes to the game mechanics. For example, while most larger enemies are, as ever, killed with quick time events, some enemies are dispatched by mini-games instead. It's a subtle distinction, but with the mini-games you aren't just going through a predetermined animation with a few break points where you have to press the right button to continue. There's a bit more interactivity and on the whole, they feel more satisfactory.
In addition, as you progress you will gain powers of the gods to charge your weapons, each one enabling a different set of moves, magic and rage attacks. There is an elemental side to these powers, Ares grants fiery attacks whereas Poseidon grants more water-related moves. Similarly with Zeus (lightning) and Hades (spirit) they seem balanced and opposite.
These powers are enhanced separately from the Blades of Chaos, giving you more things to spend your red experience orbs on. Most powers need to be upgraded to unlock the magical attacks, so there is an actual motivation to gather and spend the red orbs.
All in all, God of War: Ascension
is an excellent addition to the series. The epic scale from GoWIII
has been retained, the environments are as lush and detailed as ever and it's changed just enough to keep long term players interested, but still retains enough of the feel of the series to avoid putting them off.
One side effect of the narrative structure of the series is that Ascension
can act as an effective introduction for new players. They won't be left wondering who anybody is since hardly any characters in the game are shared with the others and are therefore introduced in a suitable way.
Another large change is the addition of a multiplayer mode, you can read about that in the second part of this review
+ God of War
is still a great game series
Epic scale can't be touched by any other game
Combat has evolved just enough to be interesting
Inventive puzzles that make proper use of Kratos' abilities
Slightly confusing storyline, matching that of the series
No sense of drama due to being a prequel
SPOnG Score: 9/10