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Posted 8:01pm

Hands on with God of War: Ascension

God of War: Ascension on PS3

Set before the events of the original God of War, God of War: Ascension is set up as a sort of origin story for the perennially tortured Spartan general Kratos. A sequence early in the game even depicts how Kratos first earned those iconic Blades of Chaos. Watching that scene, I couldn’t help but flash back to the genesis of Spider-Man and The Incredible Hulk, two other social misfits who transcended a personal tragedy to become living legends.

But God of War: Ascension isn’t some dry history lesson. The game begins in the Prison of the Damned, a sprawling structure honeycombed around the body of a vast creature called Hecatonchires, who possesses nearly as many arms as his name has syllables. Sentenced to eternal damnation for turning his back on Ares, Kratos manages to escape his shackles. The newly freed Kratos wastes no time in pursuing his captors, a group of sadistic bounty hunters called the Furies, with predictably antisocial results.

God of War: Ascension on PS3 God of War: Ascension on PS3

“Grapple an enemy and Kratos will snare him like a fish on a hook”

Based on my hands-on time with the game’s first minutes, one of Ascension’s biggest accomplishments is the way it thoughtfully refines and rethinks the series’ time-tested combat foundation. Case in point: In prior God of War games, pressing R1 made Kratos reach out to throw a nearby enemy, a sluggish and risky move with limited application. Ascension wisely replaces this with a more versatile long-range grapple, and the results are just splendid. Grapple an enemy and Kratos will snare him like a fish on a hook, leaving you free to hack away with your remaining blade, hurl him at an enemy, or bound forward to deliver a head-splitting shoulder ram. You can use the grapple on the ground, in mid air, or as part of a juggle combo – it’s always a delight. God of War veterans will surely find ways to integrate the grapple into bewildering new combos, but you don’t need to be an expert to see that it grants a faster, more fluid feel to every battle.

God of War: Ascension surprises in other ways too – especially its more dynamic approach to pacing. One thrilling sequence sees Kratos sliding at breakneck speed down the side of a collapsing fortress while dodging ramparts and rubble; in another, Kratos takes a slow, tense stroll through a gloomy prison block. Certain series mainstays have also been rethought or re-envisioned in the name of accessibility. For example, the series’ trademark QTE button-tapping minigames have been de-emphasized in favor of more fluid, responsive close-combat mechanic. And the final game will see Kratos imbue his Blades of Chaos with different elemental properties, from fire and ice to black magic and more, rather than swapping between different weapons. It’s all in the name of smoother, more integrated combat.

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“Hecatonchires lifts, rotates, and smashes the very rooms you’re fighting in.”

Then there are the smaller visual flourishes, like the way Kratos angles his slashes towards the face of a towering Cyclops rather than hacking at its knees as in past games. Or the way the camerawork effortlessly frames the action from the most dramatic and intimate perspective possible.

Ascension’s boss battles are also shaping up to be predictably jaw-dropping set pieces. The first big tussle with the many-armed Hecatonchires is a technological stunner that pits you against swarms of glistening parasites in addition to the big man himself. The environment here is as much of a character as your foe, as Hecatonchires lifts, rotates, and smashes the very rooms you’re fighting in. It’s a feast for the senses and a powerful affirmation of PS3′s continued technical prowess.

Have any questions regarding my hands-on experiences with God of War: Ascension? Leave them in the comments below!

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dark_angel69 7 February, 2013 @ 8:30 pm   1

Man 1st you get to play The Last of Us now this. I want your job!! :P

Would you know if the game has co-op or not? Wasn’t a fan of that multiplayer. Got bored of it before the game reached halfway. Doubt I’d play multiplayer on the full game but if it has co-op then will be playing that a lot.

Narurasengan94 7 February, 2013 @ 8:33 pm   2

wooo yeah

bennyrafal 7 February, 2013 @ 8:46 pm   3

Dear SSM, Elephant destroys my childhood – Dumbo FTW! Whats with Collector edition in Poland?

Stonesthrow 7 February, 2013 @ 8:54 pm   4

Good reading. I like the explanation of smaller things and details, as these articles usually offer a more basic knowledge of things that we already know about..
I would also LOVE to see a co op in this series, brawlers are just cool in co op, but GOW3 was already pretty much the best looking brawler out there.. Maybe on ps4?:p

UnrealPirate 8 February, 2013 @ 7:05 am   5

Simply can’t wait for this game to come out, love the God of War games. Have pre-ordered the version with figurine and everything. :-)

But my question is; How long is the single player part? I’m not so much into multiplayer ;-)

Gow1 was the first game i played on the ps2 and i love the series im going to quit games very soon due to my wife expecting a baby so im going to retire from gaming after 1last adventure with kratos cant wait this is going to be epic. Thank you sony for these good times i wish u well in the future

Coody-Baroody 8 February, 2013 @ 1:54 pm   7

@6 pugcool

Congrats on the baby mate but that is just TRAGIC that you’ll be giving up gaming FOREVER! Once a gamer always a gamer mate and although you’ll not have as much time to game you dont have to give it up completely believe me.

I was going to ask this Sid Shuman if he played GOW;A in 3D but ive just noticed hes part of SCEA so he’ll never even see it.

charlieboy69 10 February, 2013 @ 3:49 pm   8

is this game going to be in 3-d? I am in dire need of some more 3-d games.

Cheers

I’m so worried about this game. I’m afraid they forgot about the single player part and didn’t polish it, like GoW 1-2-3.