None of us would have thought that franchises like Dead Space or Mass Effect would ever feature multiplayer. And they did. The results were mixed- not so effective in Dead Space but surprisingly good in Mass Effect. But the inclusion of multiplayer in God of War, of all franchises, was the most surprising of all. God of War isn’t about shooting, or taking cover, or tactically flanking your enemies. God of War is about adrenaline, and thrilling action, one-on-one combat. How do you make a multiplayer component with all that completely intact?
Well, with God of War: Ascension, Sony Santa Monica has definitely tried, and the results are surprisingly good. The beta has finally launched, so you can all give it a try to check and see if the feature does fit within the God of War universe.
We did, and we liked what we saw. When you boot up the multiplayer component, you find yourself in an arena surrounded by huge statues of Gods. You can pledge your allegiance to Ares, which would boost your fire magic and the power of your attacks, or you can pledge your allegiance to Zeus, which would increase your magic and defense (the other gods are locked in the beta).
After this, the game gives you the option to play a tutorial for the multiplayer-specific features, and once you’re done, you jump into the multiplayer.
The beta has one map, which was really well designed. The map was basically a collection of decently sized areas, all connected together with narrow paths, with a huge cyclops in the background. Collect a specific number of shrines spread across the map, open chests and, of course, kill your enemis, and you get points.
You can pull levers to activate traps such as spikes or pits or fires in the narrow paths to kill your enemies, and all the while, the cyclops in the background kills anyone who gets too close.
It’s typical God of War fare- it’s epic, it’s intense, it’s thrilling. The one-on-one combat is excellent, surprisingly, and it turns out to be more than just a button mashing fare. You dodge, roll, block, perform combos, different kinds of attacks, special attacks, and more. The brutality we have all come to expect in GoW games is still here, and there is a lot more blood this time around. However, one vs two fights can get a little too unfair at times.
The multiplayer can be intimidating for newcomers- each new updrage you unlock is progressively better than the previous one, so if you’re a new player, you’re basically going up against players that are much better epuipped- and there were a few times when the multiplayer simply crashed for us, causing us to have to hard reset our PS3, but we’re hoping this issue won’t be present in the final product.
The best moments came when, during our multiple sessins of play, we took on the boss cyclops in the background itself. It was a typical God of War QTE section. It was cinematic, brutal, and just plain awesome.
The menus need a bit of work though. Most of the times it seemed like we were just scrolling our way through endless, cluttered lists that weren’t nearly as informative as they should have been.
However, it should be noted that the game looks excellent. It’s not even in its final stage yet, so we can only assume that it will look even better when it comes out in March (the single player will also look better than the multiplayer, assumedly), but already, it looks at least as good as God of War 3.
The multiplayer in Ascension doesn’t seem to be anything special or anything standout. But to be fair, no one expected it to be. What’s important is that it is what a God of War fan would want it to be, and it provides the kind of fun anyone would expect out of this series.
God of War: Ascension releases on March 13th for the PS3. Stay tuned for more coverage.