Next week sees the release of just one of the platform exclusive GoWs; God of War: Ascension for PlayStation 3. It tells the prequel tale of the muscly Greek bad-ass before he lest everything, showing that he’s pretty much always been unnecessarily angry. I’ve considered it unnecessary; it’s a story that doesn’t really need to be told, but hey, it’s more God of War, and that’s never a bad thing. So wot’s it like?
Critics seem divided. It’s technically impressive, as God of War games always are, and offers the same sort of slick, brutal mass killing we expect from the series – but complaints have been levied against the needless inclusion of multiplayer – and the whole template becoming a bit uninspired.
Here’s what they had to say.
- CVG: 7.5/10 – "Despite samey combat and a story low in scope, Ascension remains a visually stunning reminder of PS3’s pulling power, its sprinkling of incredible set pieces and time-refined combat laid on top of a familiar – too familiar – blueprint.”
- Destructoid: 9/10 – "God of War has never looked or played better than this. Kratos has never been as deep or interesting as this. They’ve set the bar so high that I have no idea how they’ll be able to follow this one up. Sony Santa Monica should be proud. Series fans should be proud."
- Edge: 7/10 – "While this series’ singleplayer template is showing its age, there’s plenty in Ascension’s multiplayer that deserves to survive the transition to PS4."
- Gamespot: 8/10 – "The single-player is where you should spend your time. No, it doesn’t quite reach the audacious and rage-filled moments of God of War: Ascension’s predecessors, nor does it move the series forward in any way, but it’s skilfully put together, and wonderfully satisfying to play."
- GamesRadar: 3.5/5 – "God of War: Ascension is confident, executing the franchise tropes flawlessly with an amount of self-awareness not often seen in gaming. It knows it’s good–it knows it doesn’t have to try hard to be good–but it struggles to be anything more than that. While it’s worth experiencing for the massive battles, remarkable cinematic moments, and strong combat, it doesn’t feel like a necessary chapter in the God of War franchise."
- IGN: No Score (review in progress) – “Few games embody the definition of epic quite like God of War. From tangling with the Hydra at the beginning of the first game to facing the Colossus of Rhodes and more recently the breathless, brutal battle against Poseidon, Kratos’ first steps into a new adventure are never forgettable. So it’s somewhat surprising and indeed disappointing that the beginning of God of War Ascension kicks off with more of a muted hand-clap than the usual rib-shattering bang.”
- Official PlayStation Magazine UK: 8/10 – "God Of War: Ascension is a fantastic game, just one that quite can’t compete with the true greats of the genre, like Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow. Whether multiplayer was a distraction that led to standards ever so slightly slipping in single-player is debatable. With such a strong combat system and beautiful looks, Kratos’ prequel could have eclipsed them all with a handful of key tweaks. Not quite the murdery meteoric rise we were hoping for then, but certainly not a fall from grace either."
- Polygon: 7/10 – "God of War: Ascension is a pair of halves that don’t add up to a cohesive whole. The multiplayer succeeds at making God of War work as a cooperative and competitive experience, but doesn’t have the depth to exist on its own. The campaign feels derivative and lacking the forceful confidence that made the series a showpiece for cinematic character-driven action games. When Ascension works, it still does what no other game save God of War manages to achieve. But it lacks the vision and force to stand up to the rest of the series."
- TheSixAxis: 8/10 – "It’s a fun ride – there are some lovely set pieces – but it’s largely a ride to a conclusion we already know and without enough focus to make it an unforgettable experience. Kratos’ backstory is fleshed out, his motivations explained and the rest of the series built on solid foundations, but is this really an essential slice of the story?"
- Videogamer: 7/10 – "The campaign is simultaneously more of the same and less of the same, being marginally shorter than God of War III’s story, yet lacking that game’s ferocity and pacing. It arguably has the lowest ‘wow’ factor of the four mainline games to date, and in a series that trades on spectacle, that’s not the best sign. Yet the multiplayer component is as fresh as the single-player is familiar."
God of War: Ascension is out next week; 13 March locally – currently sits with a Metacritic score of 79%. Are you getting it?