God of War Ascension (18+) Review – Dan Silver


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This sword and sandal slasher has battles bigger and bloodier than ever

Good God: Kratos is armed for an almighty bloodbath

Ascension god of war

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Much like the other great West Coast PlayStation franchise, Uncharted, the God of War series pretty much honed its formula from the start. So what do the developers do when the men in black suits call in to demand another iteration?

As with their Naughty Dog counterparts, Sony’s Santa Monica studio’s response is scale. God of War has never been underestimated, but this prequel redefines the epic. The only thing more remarkable than the prison built from the chest cavity of a treacherous titan in the opening chapter is that this is just the tip of the Ascension iceberg.

Your guide to this sword and sandal slasher is Kratos, a psychopathic Spartan with vicious chains strapped to his wrists, who has various sharp sticks with which to eviscerate a fabulous army of mythological opponents. This time around, he also has four elementary magic schools to master and a handful of new toys, including one that lets you manipulate time.

These are mainly used to solve increasingly complex puzzles. There’s arguably more platforming and problem-solving than is strictly necessary, but while there are sections that make you curse the gods in frustration, they do offer welcome breaks from the demanding combat.

The battles are bigger and bloodier than before. Button drummers won’t get far except at the easiest level, but practice doing combos and perfecting counters and you’ll soon understand Kratos and his brutal ballet. Those divisive Quick Time Event finishing moves always abound, of course, but the gloriously bloody, mind-blowing payoffs justify the means.

Ascension also introduces a fun, if not essential, competitive multiplayer to the franchise, with a handful of fun, objective-based team modes in the midst of deathmatch.

There’s also a wave-based co-op mode to mix things up further, but the sleek single-player campaign is still the star of this show.

Ascension may not advance its genre, but it lives up to the supreme standards of the God of War series. Brawlers just aren’t better than that.

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