God of War: Ascension Review

Does this God of War game deliver the goods?

Posted By | On 13th, Mar. 2013

God of War: Ascension Review

God of War 3 had one of the best openings ever in the history of videogames. The game threw so many titans at you in a short period that it completely overwhelmed you and set the pace.

This isn’t a hyperbolic statement; it’s something that will be fondly remembered when people make those top 10 lists of best videogame openings of all time–with the one from this game at the top.

So the series ended with the always-angry Kratos killing tons of gods and he did have his revenge in the end. So what now? A prequel, that’s what.

God of War: Ascension (henceforth “GOWA”) sees Todd Pappy take over the directorial duties from Stig Asmussen. There’s a nice little intro when you boot up the game, though not as “epic” as God of War 3’s, but it will pump you up.god of war ascension 6

While the first few minutes GOWA aren’t that viscerally eye popping but it does showcase the amazing level design on display. The entire level is built on a Titan called Hecatonchires.

Why is that? Because he broke his oath with the gods and as a result he was punished by the Furies–the main enemies in GOWA–and his flesh was molded and twisted in unspeakable ways to create this imposing prison.

Since this is a prequel, the game is all about making Kratos break free from the illusion cast upon him by the Furies, and making him remember his past; a past where he killed his family with his own hands.

There will be times in the game where he believes he is living a normal life and tries to break free from that illusion with the help of a few artifacts given to him by Orkos–an oath keeper as well as the son of the Fury queen and Ares who was cast away because it wasn’t a child they desired.

There are a lot of things about this game that are not only frustrating but extremely disappointing considering Sony Santa Monica’s pedigree. I don’t want to use the words ‘spin off’, but considering how the game isn’t as good as God of War 3, I have to wonder what happened here.

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First off, the music seems to be so bland and in some sections there’s no music playing at all. This is such a contrast from the previous game which used to fill you up with adrenaline during each boss fight. The sounds effects are quite poor and feel unfinished.

There’s no meaty sound when your blade connects with your the enemies. Having a good sound design is a big part of creating an audiovisual spectacle like the previous games in the series.

However, the graphics on offer here is simply a sight to behold. There are inconsistencies with lower quality textures in some levels, but the game does a good job of keeping your eyes glued to the television.

I wouldn’t say it is a drastic improvement over the previous game but if you are in it for the visuals, you won’t be disappointed here. The environment is nicely designed with a good colour palette choice, and in a way this is the most colourful game in the series.

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What do you think of first when someone says God of War? Yes, the boss fights. This is one area where I felt the game was underdeveloped the most. It’s not an issue of scale either because some bosses are really imposing like the Titan Cronos from God of War 3, but there are so few here that it just doesn’t feel right. But if it has lost one thing it has also gained another, in terms of puzzles.

Some of the puzzles in the game will seriously make you think. Some of them are pretty straightforward but the focus on making players put some effort in clearing a section is highly appreciated. This is good game design. However, there’s one section in the game where if you are playing on the normal difficulty or above, you will most certainly end up punching a wall or hurling abuses at the developers on Twitter.

It’s called the ‘Trials of Archimedes’ which you encounter near the end of the game. It puts you in an elevator or ‘elevator of hell’ where you have to battle three waves of incredibly tough enemies.

Most players probably won’t be able to clear wave 1 and if they do they will be so low in health that the Amazons in wave 2 will just spear them to death. Although, eventually you end up figuring out a way to kill all these guys. Hint: Magic and blocking helps.

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This game is the most difficult one in the series, and in a way it also exposes Kratos’ combat inefficiencies when pitted against strong and fast enemies. The entire combat system has aged and will not satisfy players who are used to much better and responsive ones.

The guy is a tank and when he gets hit–it takes time for the animation to recover while you are vigorously pressing the block button only for it to not register.god of war ascension 7

For a fighting game I can’t even explain how frustrating this is because your brain is working overtime to do tons of combos and the buttons you press don’t register. I know God of War’s combat is not sophisticated but when you put enemies that are difficult to kill and attack you in groups, the character must also have the ability to counter them well.

Or I am just whining here after dying a lot of times.

The game surprisingly was lengthy for me. I chose the normal difficulty and it took me approximately 12 hours to beat the game. I can say that I wasted at least 3 hours doing puzzles, idling, and repeating the Trials of Archimedes section. Then there’s multiplayer too.

I really enjoyed the beta version they put out. The netcode was a bit iffy then, but it seems they have fixed it in the retail version. What we have here is smooth flowing combat which will make any wannabe gladiator feel like one.

First you need to choose a god to align with, and this will decide what your character will specialize in.

The Rotunda of the Olympus is where you choose between different gods and you can change allegiance anytime here. I chose Zeus, and after a brief training period was able to play competitive multiplayer. There are a bunch of other modes as well, but they are nothing special. The maps are well designed with and have the same quality as the single player maps.

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You level up after each match and higher level characters have a distinct advantage in equipment and power over lower level characters. It isn’t like other games where lower level characters can still compete. This is true gladiatorial stuff. Be prepared to be smashed by other players and learn the game the hard way.

Trial of the Gods is a fun co-operative mode where you face hordes of enemies and the two teams are Spartans and Trojans. The game supports 8 players and in the main mode called Team Favor of the Gods you go against the other team collecting as much points as you can, with some side objectives popping up.

There’s a lot of customization aspects here with various armours and weapons that look really cool. The multiplayer will be fun to play for a while since it feels so unique and different, but eventually it becomes a bit boring.

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This is subjective, of course, you will find a lot of people playing and enjoying this but I feel the multiplayer kind of lacks the depth.

God of War: Ascension has some good things going for it and it’s clear that the developers have focused on the multiplayer here but in a way that has affected the single player a bit.

It’s a game that God of War players will like because at its heart it’s a game created for the fans. They tried to be adventurous with the multiplayer mode and while it’s something fun, it’s hard to say whether it will be a success or not.

This game was reviewed on the PS3.


The puzzles are great. The combat requires skill and concentration. The visuals are gorgeous. The multiplayer is fun. Level design is incredible in some places.


What happened to the sound? The Difficulty can be unfair at times. Needed more bosses. Pacing feels off. The game feels longer than it should. Lacks variety.

Final Verdict:
The variety of God of War 2, the pure "epicness" of God of War 3, and the overall production values of all the mainline games in the series is missing here. However, it is still a God of War game at its core and some people would be happy with that.
A copy of this game was provided by Developer/Publisher/Distributor/PR Agency for review purposes. Click here to know more about our Reviews Policy.

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