- Publisher: Sony
- Developer: Sony
- ESRB Rating: M (Mature)
- Genre: Action
- Release Date: March 12, 2013
- Pros: Looks Amazing, Action Heavy, Multiplayer
- Cons: Can't Live Up to Franchise Legacy, Feels Slight in Comparison
The second-most-dreaded word in entertainment (after "remake") might be "prequel." That's what we get here, a story set ten years before the first "God of War." Ares has trapped Kratos and forced him to combat the Furies. The storytelling here is thinner than ever in the franchise. To be blunt, I never cared about what was happening because, as with all prequels, I knew where we were going. A younger, less-angry Kratos? Who thought that was a good idea? It might have made sense to fully pull back and really change the game in terms of the presentation of Kratos but do you want another Spider-man game with lesser powers or another game with Batman learning his skill set as Bruce Wayne? Nope. Those roads have been creatively run.
Of course, it's not like the Kratos of "Ascension" is a wimp. You'll still slice, dice, and smash your way through hundreds of hapless enemies, many of which are familiar. With the blend of heavy-light attacks that have become the norm in dozens of "God of War" rip-offs, "God of War: Ascension" features the action that fans expect. Upgrades are earned through gameplay, boss battles end with Quicktime events, and the scope of the combat is massive. Combat is based on elements like fire & ice and you'll quickly figure out your favorites weapons of godly destruction and use them accordingly.
While the prequel nature makes for a less-compelling story, "God of War: Ascension" still features some incredible set-pieces -- creatures so gigantic you only see part of them on your widescreen TV, waves of enemies, complex puzzles that need to be solved, and the artifacts of the Gods. And while combat may seem identical, it has been slightly tweaked. There are some new special powers and ways in which typical "GoW" combat and typical "GoW" Quicktime events have been merged into mini-games with certain enemies. You also have a rage meter, which fills if you're not hit and can be used for special powers. You'll also find secondary weapons in the environment but they feel unnecessary. Wait, I can swing blades around and shoot flames from the ground, but, look, I found a shield! I typically just picked up the weapons to get them out of the way.
"God of War: Ascension" includes multiplayer for the first time and it's a successful venture. It's somewhat chaotic to be running around an arena, setting traps, taking objectives, and picking up weapons but the chaos works. The customization in "Ascension" is deep enough to satisfy serious multiplayer gamers without making it feel too haphazard. Having said that, the multiplayer in "Ascension" feels somewhat thin. When you've played through six games of combat against the most legendary creatures in the history of mythology, pulling a killer move on a kid from Peoria doesn't have the impact it would in another game.