There's More to God of War: Ascension Than Just Multiplayer

After spending some hands-on time with God of War: Ascension, here's what we think of a few immediately noticeable changes.

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Here at Gamescom 2012, Sony is letting folks get some quality hands-on time with a God of War: Ascension single-player demo that was previously only for looking back at E3. So what has changed in Kratos' latest outing? What are the things you really pick up on once you sit down and play the game for (and by) yourself? Well, read on to find out…

Found weaponry is a nice change of pace

Throughout Kratos' journey in God of War: Ascension, he'll frequently make his way through scenes of war and destruction, and as you'd probably expect, not everyone will survive. Luckily for you, this allows you to pick up the various weapons from these fallen victims. Things like swords, spears, and other more esoteric pieces of weaponry can be used by Kratos for a bit of time to mix up his fighting style. There's something oddly appealing about Kratos picking up the spear thrust through a dead innocent only to turn right back and use it on the enemies responsible for that person's death. Plus, it feels a bit like a guitar virtuoso entertaining himself with a ukulele just for laughs.

Channeling your rage into a single target is disgusting fun

In early God of War games, you'd build up a rage meter by doing well in combat, then cash it in to turn super-powerful for a temporary stretch of time. It was a fun system for going to town on your enemies without having to worry about them hurting you, but seeing the rage meter slowly deplete was a bit like hearing the air wheeze its way out of a balloon.

In God of War: Ascension, however, you can cash in the entirety of your Rage meter for one very explosive, very climactic moment of destruction. Click in both analog sticks when you've got the meter built up, and if you've got fireball magic, you can turn a given enemy into a walking suicide bomber. Cashing in the meter instantly nets you a bunch of health and orbs, and after that you'll see your poor enemy burst apart and take out any buddies unfortunate enough to be standing near him. It's grim, but deeply satisfying.

Buttonless minigames are cool, but need some refinement

God of War: Ascension will make use of what Sony's calling "buttonless" minigames, which are essentially fight scenes where the situation is highly scripted but you're given far more control than a quick-time event button prompt. So, for example, when we approached the end of the elephant-headed boss, we became entangled in his trunk, needing to dodge his swinging attacks while stabbing at his head when it was safe to do so.

Stabbing at him was a simple, delightful matter of jamming on the face buttons when we weren't under threat from his mighty swings. But as we tried to dodge him, we weren't moving for some reason and kept taking damage. Only a moment later did we realize we were trying to dodge using the right analog stick as you do in free combat, but for some reason this little minigame decided dodging should be mapped to the left analog stick. So while we liked the action and the context of these little scripted fight scenes, it's clear that there are some usability issues left to be ironed out.

The visual style is still God of War, but with some interesting touches

If it weren't for all the blood, killer goat men, blood, killer elephant men, and blood, you'd think the setting from this demo were some sort of Mediterranean vacation paradise. Kratos is venturing through ancient ruins out at sea, with tree-dotted islands off in the distant sunset. It's quite a picturesque backdrop compared to the gloomy locales of earlier games. And on top of that, there's a noticeably pronounced depth of field effect compared to God of War III, so not only does the background look more vibrant, but it also looks more cinematic. This probably isn't something that most God of War fans will notice, but it certainly grabbed our attention.

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