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God of War: Ascension Preview: Action Gameplay Never Felt So Good
You never forget your first God of War game. From the brutal combat to the impressive set pieces, it’s one of the most unique experiences you’ll ever have on a console.
I recently sat down with the single player demo for the upcoming God of War: Ascension. Check out the video preview below, and read on for a more in-depth look at what we can expect from the game upon its release.
From start to finish, the demo of God of War: Ascension was nothing short of impressive. Updated visuals, tightened mechanics, and even a push for a more beefed-up narrative arc all made an appearance, playing up the game’s epic nature in a big, big way.
The demo starts with some basic backstory about Kratos, opening with a cinematic cutscene showing one of the Furies berating him as he’s chained up by his own blades. From there, you’ll start to learn the basics of evasion as you slip past her attacks and free your arms from the walls. The interaction between the two sets up nicely what you can expect to see from the rest of the experience; clean, crisp visuals, great sound design, and above all, smooth combat.
Ascension wastes no time throwing you right into combat, starting with Kratos as he chases down a Fury through the Prison of the Damned. The classic Blades of Chaos make a return here, but I was also able to disarm enemies and take up their weapons as my own whenever the opportunity presented itself.
Combat is a clean mix of light and heavy attacks, grappling moves, and bludgeoning techniques Kratos can switch between in quick and satisfying succession as he takes enemies head on. And while it is completely approachable for even the most novice of players, there’s still quite a bit of depth to the combat that more seasoned action game veterans will appreciate as well. Kratos can block, evade, and throw his enemies across the battlefield, giving him a bevvy of options that work for multiple situations. It’s fast, it’s fluid, and it’s brutal. But most importantly, it’s fun and completely satisfying to use.
The one other marvel I encountered in the game was its use of impressive visuals. There’s no uncanny valley to be seen here; everything in Ascension’s demo has had a great amount of detail added into it to make it an aesthetically pleasing and interesting experience. Skin looks real and pliable, blood erupts from wicked wounds, and combat animations are smooth as butter. On top of that, environments are unique and detailed, and the epic camera angles and set pieces we know and love from God of War games of old have made a successful return as well. Monsters rear up and impose their daunting size and power, enemies dance around and attack violently, and even the Fury herself is an impressively creepy and dangerous figure. Probably the most underrated part of the game’s overall presentation, however, is its soundtrack. Big, compelling brass sounds and dramatic percussion lend the game an even more fantastic feel like something ripped straight out of a Greek epic. While certain aspects may fall the way of feeling “video-gamey” (I’m looking at you, magically disappearing blood), the game’s overall presentation still ties itself together nicely thanks to the fine detail added to it.
Really, there’s only one word that could be used to describe the sense I got from the single-player demo: epic. And I don’t mean in the frat-boy sense of it, either; rather, I’m talking the traditional definition of the word, meaning “heroic,” “majestic,” and “impressively great.” God of War has a reputation for being one of the best offerings not only on the PlayStation 3, but in the action game genre in general. While we of course won’t know for sure until release day, it appears that Ascension looks to return to this in a big way.
The game also will feature online multiplayer play, which is a franchise first and adds to the industry’s push for giving players options to play solo or with friends.
While it does use typical multiplayer modes, it still manages to feel somewhat different thanks to its unique execution. You’ll be able to fight up to three other people head-to-head in an arena, play capture the flag, or team up together to take on massive bosses and earn the favor of the Gods.
Sure, it’s not necessarily going to be the reason you pick up the game on release day, but it’s a nice way to stay engaged in the experience long after you’ve wrapped up the single-player bit of Ascension.
Action game fans, mark your calendars for the release of God of War: Ascension on March 12th. If this demo serves as any indicator of its greatness, you won’t be disappointed.