Play
Please use a flash video capable browser to watch videos.
00:00:00
Sorry, but you can't access this content!
Please enter your date of birth to view this video

By clicking 'enter', you agree to GameSpot's
Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

Review

God of War: Ascension Review

  • First Released
    released
  • Reviewed
  • PS3

The multiplayer's a bust, but God of War: Ascension's campaign is a gloriously bloody adventure filled with exhilarating combat.

'

It's hard to imagine a time in Kratos' life when he wasn't whipped up into a mad, revenge-fuelled frenzy. After all, if his last five outings have taught us anything, it's that whether you're a demon, or a monster, or even a god, Kratos isn't afraid to quench his bloodlust by severing your head. So it comes as something of a surprise to see a calmer, more thoughtful side to his character in God of War: Ascension. This isn't a story about revenge, or uncontrollable rage, but the tale of a tortured mind in search of the truth.

Sadly, that makes things a little less exciting. Sure, like in all God of War games, the action is bloody, over the top, and entertaining. And the sense of scale as you clamber over vast statues that stand as tall as mountains, or joust with the tentacles that topple entire cities is impressive too. But without that constant fury permeating every punch, kick, and bloody hack-and-slash dismemberment, God of War: Ascension doesn't deliver that same gut punch of instant gratification as its predecessors.

There's an element of series fatigue at play too, mostly because there's little mechanically in Ascension that wasn't taken to its logical conclusion in God of War III. The mythical beasts, the huge sense of scale, and the grotesquely violent combat are all here, but Ascension is not a fresh take on those things. Instead, it's mostly down to the story (set 10 years before the original God Of War) to provide a change of pace, charting as it does Kratos' descent from a regular, albeit uber-strong human being into an unhinged ball of rage.

It's a story that tries so very hard to have you relate to the mellowed-out Kratos. And sure, there are a few touching moments when Kratos reminisces about his deceased wife and child, but for the most part Ascension's emotional impact is limited to cut scenes of him looking moody, or getting a bit angry with one of the three evil furies he's chasing. It's hardly enough for you to empathise with his character, particularly since those scenes are surrounded by many hours of Kratos viciously tearing the heads off demons while he happily splashes around in their blood without a care in the world.

But it's those hours, gruesome beheadings and all, that prove to be the most entertaining. Combat is God of War's forte, and it's as exhilarating as ever in Ascension. Slaying goat men by snapping their spines in two, disemboweling a centaur, or tearing through the skull of a harpy are dark pleasures that few games can replicate with such ferocity. If you're a fan of the series, they're all things you've seen before, of course, and they're even performed using the same button-mashing quick time events.

That's not to say there haven't been a few changes, though. An enjoyable new minigame replaces many of the quicktime events, letting you take down larger foes without following a specific set of commands. Instead, you're free to stab away at enemies, only stopping to dodge attacks that are handily highlighted by a brief moment of slow-motion swinging. Dodge enough attacks and stab enough times and your foe is torn in half. Or its brains are squished. Or its jaw is turned inside out. God of War certainly isn't for the squeamish.

Kratos' blades of chaos make a return in open combat, letting you conjure up all manner of impressive looking combos with just a few simple button taps. After just a few battles you can hack, sweep, and hurl enemies into the air with a fluidity that's mighty impressive, and mighty rewarding too. As enemies get stronger, combat becomes more challenging, with a greater emphasis placed on the timing of blocks and dodges in order to avoid enemy attacks.

There's also elemental damage to worry about, with Kratos able to switch between fire, demon, ice, and electricity powers for his blades at will. Each of them doles out a different status effect, with electricity's ability to shock enemies for a brief period of time and suspend them in mid-air a particularly useful one. There's also the usual array of devastating spells to unlock, each of them linked to an elemental power.

It's all very slick and precise, and as you tear out the heart of a fallen medusa after a wonderfully skilful combo, it's hard not to be impressed. The simpler secondary weapon system does wonders here too. Now you can pick up various weapons, such swords, spears, and giant mallets, from fallen victims, which can be used for a brief amount of time to mix up Kratos' fighting style. Having a constantly cycled secondary weapon keeps the combat fresh and interesting, and the different effects of each weapon--the giant mallet knocking enemies to their knees, for instance--open up new ways to attack and string together combos.

Where the combat falters slightly is in boss battles, which remain formulaic and require you to memorise each boss's repetitive movements before launching an attack. And unlike the boss battles in previous God of War games, Ascension's boss battles aren't particularly taxing, thanks to simpler patterns and quick-time events. The battles do at least play to Ascension's impressive sense of scale, though. Whether you're attacking a giant bug that has sprouted from the hands of a decrepit statute, or are fighting a fire-breathing demon that towers above the city, you can't help but be in awe of the sights on offer. Plus, the final boss is one of the scariest to have graced a video game: those with a tender disposition may want to watch out for nightmares afterward.

Numerous puzzles break up the action to great effect. They start off simple enough, often just requiring you to pull a lever to open a door, or pull a block around to reach a tall platform, but they soon become complex, particularly during the latter half of the game. It's there that you pick up powers that let you rebuild and destroy sections of the environment and create a replica of yourself to pull switches or stand or blocks. Combining powers results in some excellent brainteasers that mix up spatial awareness with old-fashioned logic for some interesting challenges.

Less successful are the drawn-out platforming sections that make use of Kratos' blades to swing and leap across the environment. Awkward camera angles that don't quite line up with platforms make them trickier than they should be, while many of them simply go on for too long; you're itching to get back to the combat long before you leap across that final chasm. Fortunately, there aren't too many of these sections to deal with, and on the whole, the campaign moves forward at a fast-enough pace to keep you interested, even if it doesn't reach the exciting breakneck speeds of God of War III.

But there's more to Ascension than just a single-player campaign. Yes, for the first time, God of War has a multiplayer mode. And like most multiplayer modes tacked onto a largely single-player adventure, it's not something you're likely to play more than once, and only then out of morbid curiosity. The focus is on arena battling in matches of eight or fewer players. You pick a faction for your character--which mimics the elemental powers found in the single-player campaign--dress him up in some fancy coloured armour, and then get to killing.

Combat is similar to that of the single-player, although it has been noticeably slowed down, no doubt to give other players more of a chance to dodge, block, or parry attacks. Not that it makes a whole lot of difference when it comes down to battle. There's a certain amount of timing involved, for sure, but more often than not simply mashing buttons is enough to land yourself a kill. You can break up the physical attacks by performing impressive-looking special moves with cooldown meters or by launching magic attacks by collecting mana. Magic is useful in a crowded battle, but one-on-one physical attacks can rarely be beaten.

The vast majority of Ascension's multiplayer modes are based around Favour of the Gods. In these modes, you must collect a certain number of favour points by killing others, opening chests, and taking control of altars scattered around each of the arena-style maps. The maps themselves are pretty to look at, with plenty of cool environmental weapons for combatants to use, such as fiery flamethrowers and spikes that brilliantly impale multiple opponents at once. And for a brief amount of time, the mode is fun too, but there's little to hold your attention for long. Combat is slow, while the environments themselves are often too big, meaning you spend most of your time looking for opponents rather than fighting them.

Trial of the Gods fares better. It's an endless-wave mode where you and a friend are pitted against CPU-controlled enemies to see how long you can survive. Here, the arenas are much smaller, and each wave brings with it a new set of enemies, which keeps the action focused and exciting. It's not a particularly original mode, but it's well executed and challenging too. The reward for all your hard work is experience, which can be used to unlock new moves, magic attacks, and weapons for your character. The levelling system doesn't bring anything new to the multiplayer party, but it works well enough.

You're unlikely to play the multiplayer outside of a few practice sessions: it simply isn't deep enough to hold your attention for long. Fortunately, the single-player has a few tricks up its sleeve with a New Game Plus mode that unlocks after you complete the game, allowing you to use objects that give you unlimited mana, or dole out extra damage for some truly wondrous action-packed combat. There's a harder difficulty level too, should the single-player not be challenging enough, and there are plenty of unlockables in the form of artwork and behind-the-scenes movies.

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. The mix of Greek mythology and lurid schoolboy fantasy still manages to simultaneously charm and gross out all at once, and that's a trait few games can boast, let alone execute with such confidence. Not to mention Ascension looks stunning, from the lighting effects that make for moody encounters in darkened dungeons, to the detail that has been thrown into each and every stab of a knife, and each drop of blood that flows from a downed enemy's recently spilled guts. Yes, it's all very juvenile, but boy is it fun.

'

Did you enjoy this review?

Sign In to Upvote
The Good
Tight, satisfying combat
Impressive sense of scale used to great effect
Revels in its own juvenile bloodiness
Stunning visuals
The Bad
Chilled out Kratos isn't anywhere near as exciting as angry Kratos
Multiplayer lacks originality and compelling modes
8
Great
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Mark is a senior staff writer based out of the UK, the home of heavy metal and superior chocolate.
1391 comments
regix416_basic
regix416_basic

Sounds like they just want to nitpick it to pieces and that's just not fair.

7C7R7N7
7C7R7N7

I give 9.5 to God of War: Ascension. Kill me if you want, but this game is better than GoW III, by the battle system, sound effects, soundtrack, and of course, the epic battles, mainly for the final battle. I say that because the final battle against Zeus in GoW III is the worse battle in the whole series.

DiverseGamer
DiverseGamer

If I were a reviewer, I wouldn't take points off for the multi-player. People don't really buy games for multi-player anyway (except for COD, Battlefield, and the such).

jakcul
jakcul

I see where you're coming from, but it is included and supposed to help replay value. I haven't played this one yet, but I didn't have high hope for multiplayer in the first place.

DiverseGamer
DiverseGamer

@jakcul I'm not sure how it helps replay value, seeing as how you don't have to replay the game to access the content. The multi-player does add content and is a nice little bonus. But does not affect the single player campaign which most people buy it to experience. That's like a critic taking points off of a movie for having crappy special features.

jakcul
jakcul

I hear ya, I'm just satin it's there, so it's worth mentioning. I'm with you as far as GoW being single player focused. I probably wouldn't even touch it til I finished the campaign. I'm just saying that if you have good multiplayer, you're more likely to go back to it more than to just play the campaign over and over.

coldaschris
coldaschris

@DiverseGamer  The multiplayer is a part of the game. A reviewer should review the whole game, and not leave certain things out because they don't really consider it a part of the game.

thekazumalord
thekazumalord

a fun game so far.. even though i haven't played through all the way ...but there are some issues in the game.. mostly it's the audio.. it  cuts out and is delayed frequently.. the frame rate occasionally stutters as well... im also not too fond of how the camera pulls out so far at times.. too far.. it makes it difficult to see your character during fights.. given how good the other god of war games are, especially GOW 3, these issues are inexcusable..  ultimately, its a good game but more flawed and not as good as GOW 3 was.

Arkman2014
Arkman2014

Santa monica what have u done to us, this is nothing like god of war, short story play,  but good cobat system ,

daviz88
daviz88

i just finished the game & i must say the game deserve a higher score.

first of all the combat is the smoothest  and most refined in the entire series

plaforming has been vastly improved 

and the graphical superb

the level design is just BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

better puzzle section

and the larger than life battle which GOW is known for is here

the only problem i had was the story, not that it was bad it isn't just as compelling as the previous instalment. but overall its a great game that every hank n slash fan should should play.

GOD OF WAR 9.5

GOD OF WAR 2 9.5

GOD OF WAR 3 9.2

GOD OF WAR ASCENSION 9.0


daviz88
daviz88

What the hell dose this have to do with anything. Fanboism much?

regix416_basic
regix416_basic

@daviz88 I think they should have made the GOW Saga with Ascension instead of the PSP games... but that's only to make them uniform... The PSP added tidbits to his past whereas Ascension seems to give a little bit more details... Or am I completely off on that...?  

zzamaro
zzamaro

I enjoyed this game, but I think it's far from perfect. 

Story isn't as great as in previous console gows, and it lacks epic boss fights. Score fits.

Jonnyblaze2008
Jonnyblaze2008

I love your glasses Mark Walton, "Senior Staff Write".....Looks like your really fantastic at calculus....You look like you climax to an algorithms....

 

Grenadeh
Grenadeh

Actually it's the 6th release, not sure how that got past your copy editor. Oh right, you're GameSpot.

MAY9096
MAY9096

I really enjoyed playing this game but not like the previous parts specially GOW 2 

DIqhwan
DIqhwan

Awesome !!! This game will definitely be in  my birthday list

amin7224
amin7224

WTF is wrong with Gamespot lately!! The reviewers don't like third person action games!! they stuck on rpg games!! then go play dragon age!! F***ing  haters!!

QtrArt
QtrArt

i wonder if there no online,sure the review will get 9 or 8.5 :)

Trea1-4
Trea1-4

Fuck them i bout it anyway i have the GOW bundle that came wit all the GOW ever made!!!!!

Isamu_36
Isamu_36

Sony is doing to the GOW franchise the same that Square has been doing to the FF's since FFX.

chiefgul
chiefgul

Gamespots incoherent point system is obvious ,and thats my opinion and thank you for letting me post mine, BUT

What i see at least in many cases is that gamespot gives scores to games with some sort of planning = meaning How to review the next installment of a game.

God of War 3 IN MY OPINION was a game tha deserved at least a 9,5.

Then they review it 9 because the had to be somewhere at 8 for the next installment!!!

REMEMBER (and i insist on Grand theft auto and other COD games)

Grand theft auto V is at least a 9,5 game BECAUSE  Grand theft auto IV was given a 10!!!!!

Thank God Kevin VanOrd gave a 10 for Metal Gear 4!!!!


BUT BY FAR THE MOST UNFAIR - OUT OF PLACE - BIASED REVIEW IS 

Chris Watters FOR PORTAL 2


03469186617
03469186617

Mark walton is a jerk.......he dont even knw how to make a review.......da only person from gamespot who knws whts hez doing is kevin venord.............and mark i hav played the game and its classic GOW.............i hav all the fun i wanted from this game..........go and eat shit u jerk and santa monica hater ......... :P :P

Assemblent
Assemblent

To all the God of War fans that are afraid to buy the game, don't be. The game doesn't put its predecessors to shame, it only raises the bar! This is what you where expecting! I've just finished it, enjoyed all of it. It's a God of War, you can't be wrong here. If you're a fan of this series, you'll feel the same goosebumps the other GOW offered you. You have the brutality, you have the awesome storytelling, the stunning graphics, the fluid action, you have the larger than the universe epic moments, you have that perfect mayhem of chaos and over the top action, you have everything that ever made God of War so great.

Gamespot is a good gaming site but its staff is filled with fanboys in the worse sense of the word and when they have a grudge against a game, either because of its console or personal taste, they can't stop being biased and write shameful reviews like this one here. 

Of course there isn't that element of surprise that you had with the previous installments, but that's obvious, this is what happened right before Kratos set out is plan to kill Ares and take down Olympus, of course this game wouldn't be as "big" as GOW 1, 2 and 3 where, I mean, common, how can you top chasing and killing the olympian gods in such a fashion? 

This review is worse than bad and it's completely incoherent. Has for the difficulty, this is peanuts compared to God of War 2 and never gets as hard as the Zeus fight in GOW3. Can't wait to beat it again countless times because it's just plain fun and it just gave me urges to play its predecessors again, over and over until I reach this most recent masterpiece of one of the greatest gaming series of all time.

Alpr1010
Alpr1010

@Assemblent Thanks! I saw gamestop has it marked down to $20 but I always put it off because I felt like it'd kill the series for me. You sold me on it.

harryfoker
harryfoker

Gamespot high as F**K

Telling me that GOW is worse than MGS Rising and slightly better than DmC.

it cant be true

Kentation
Kentation

Completed the game twice, once on Hard, ready to do Titan now. I have to say this game was disappointing at first, met a few glitches, one crash, saw some ugly looking tables in some cut scenes lol. I felt this game wasn't needed at all but playing on a higher difficulty made it more epic, it changed my opinion and made me appreciate the game alot more, it made me want to play the entire series again :) Though I find God of War 3 the best out of all the series.

I haven't played multiplayer much but it is fantastic and addictive. I find Mark's opinion on true multiplayer however playing with God of War mechanics and gameplay style make's up for the lack of new modes in my opinion.

And that secret easter egg tease they put on that painting :P "When the Earth stops a new journey begins"A new game or a new God Of War? I'm surprised Gamespot created a article about it since they do quite a lot on speculation.

weedman336
weedman336

Hey guys this will be my first god of war game .. is it ok to play this one now an catch up on the others later (because I really wanna play this game lol)  or DO I MOST DEFINAETLY NEED TO PLAY THE OTHERS FIRST?..          I PLAN TO JUST WANT THIS ONE ASAP

THANKS

nobbsie86
nobbsie86

Just completed this on hard and jesus! was it! Trial of Archimedes is one of the toughest  unforgiving parts in a game i've ever played . Awesome game tho!  looks incredible plays great. Best overall gow game for me

FighterforJC
FighterforJC

God of War 3 was more epic, but with the exception of the Trial of Archimedes, Ascension is a big overall improvement.  It flows better.  The puzzles aren't annoying.  Once you've solved the puzzle, you'll be able to breeze through it the second time through.  A couple of the puzzles in GoW3 were imaginative but poorly designed. Ascension feels more fluid whereas GoW3 felt like you were being transported from one level to the next.  My advice to those who have a life, until the patch comes out, play the game on easy and make sure to collect everything to max out your health and magic and max out your blades of chaos.  You're gonna need it for the Trial of Archimedes but if you're maxed out on everything you'll be able to get through it without dying once.

MrSyers
MrSyers

just beat the game on normal. 8 hours total game time. it was haaaaaaaaard. i will disagree with Mark on boss battles being easy. it's only in the first stage against hecatonchires that it's easy, the rest of the game is quite challenging. also coming form a guy who played all the other god of war games, DONT LISTEN TO THE REVIEWS, THIS GAME AWESOME!!!!

FighterforJC
FighterforJC

I finally beat the game.  On EASY.  Health and magic maxed out, it was a breeze.  Thankfully, playing on easy was still satisfying.  Anyways, can someone tell me how I use the artifacts I collected?  I started a new game plus but I don't see any option to use any of the artifacts I've found.

Devil_78
Devil_78

I played god of war 1 , 2 , 3 and now i finished this game . Kratos here have emotions which is good . he is not a mindless crazy killer which i didnt like in the rest of the series . In my humble opinion this game is better than god of war 3 but not better than 1 and 2 . The story is good but not that good as 1 and 2 . Boss fights are epic specially the last boss although its not as good as fighting with zeus in god of war2 . The combat is very impressive you have 4 powers from gods each one have unique magic . In the end its a nice and fun game .

deadbeliever
deadbeliever

I just finished gow ascension and  collected all orbs , all artifacts . OMG - THAT FUKIN ELEVATOR SECTION, OH MY FREAKIN GOD.......but is still wasnt as hard as gow 1 though ; I mean after completing gow 1 , you actually feel like the "god of war". This game's story isn't as strong as the rest.I finished in 10 hours on normal; but if I wasnt so meticulous on finding all the shit in the game , I prolly wuda finished in 8 1/2 hrs. The boss kills arnt as great as gow 3. In this game I expected to see kratos with his family, and the origin of him making the blood oath with Ares- leading to him killing his family. If all of that was in the game culminating to him breaking the "oath with Ares" by killing the furies , it wuda been a better and complete narrative. Instead the feeling I had when I finished the game was "what.....thats it?"

cerberus1058
cerberus1058

Gaytos is back, with more one dimensional, uninteresting, unoriginal, predictable gayness. As a proud owner of both the ps3 and 360, I will not be buying this typical piece of garbage.

Megatoas
Megatoas

The game is a disappointment, I played all GOW series and I have to say this title did not live up to its reputation as the previous GOW. No problem with audio and video.

1. Combos are always interrupted by enemies as they are immune to your attacks. Think I have encounter all glitches in this game.

2.  Start the game without connecting to the internet only to find out there was no in game audio.  Connected to internet, 1st day patch appears (I thought that is EA’s specialty). 

3. Camera glitch at Passage to Delphi

4. Fight the furies at Apollo’s gauntlet, the second fury, second part of the fight another glitch, she stuck in air and keep laugh in an infinite loop.

5. And random crashes along the way.

Storyline is pretty boring, overall if you have never play GOW it should be a good experience, but for those who have played the previous GOW, don’t get hyped cause it will be a disappointment.

GOW3 is the best game!!!

Kratos_x
Kratos_x

I dont know why the people say GOW 3 better than this one 

really , this part best GOW ever specially the beginning EPIC EPIC EPIC 

for me MASTERPIECE 10/10

what ever what they say I will never stop playing this game specially the online mode

God of War: Ascension More Info

Follow
  • First Released
    released
    • PS3
    God of War: Ascension is the seventh release in the series and is a prequel to the original trilogy that will tell Kratos' origin story by revealing Kratos' initial betrayal by Ares while human, and the source of his rage.
    8.2
    Average Rating812 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate God of War: Ascension
    Developed by:
    SCE Santa Monica
    Published by:
    SCEE, SCEI, SCEA, SCE Australia
    Genre(s):
    Action, Adventure
    Theme(s):
    Fantasy
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    All Platforms
    Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Nudity, Sexual Content