I love video games. You could say I'm a "Girl that plays Video Games"
While I am a blond with a substantial bosom, my husband can attest that my
trucker's mouth and unjustified gaming anger gaming passion puts me in the category on the right. Fine by me!
While video games can be used to teach pilots to fly, teens to drive, and children the ABC's, I prefer to use them as anger management.
Enter God of War: Ascension.
The sixth game in the legendary God of War series by Santa Monica Studios, Ascension is actually a prequel to Kratos's quest to bring down Ares at the start of God of War 1.
Are you with me? Hmm.... perhaps I should quickly summarize GOW before reviewing the game since some of you may have no idea what I'm talking about... and may not care.
Okay, so the GOW series follows Kratos, a Spartan general who swore a blood oath to Ares in the midst of a losing battle and thus becomes Ares's Champion. So why is he pale with a red stripe? Well, to complete the oath, Ares tricked Kratos into murdering his wife and daughter thinking they were from the enemy country, and a crazy old woman (okay... an oracle) magically set their ashes into Kratos's skin. The red stripe is the mark of Sparta.
And that's how Kratos becomes the "Ghost of Sparta." Cool nickname, no?
Obviously pissed, Kratos breaks away from Ares, spends 10 years questing for Athena, and at the beginning of the first game Kratos agrees to kill Ares who is attacking Athens and trying to bring down the gods. It's a Greek tragedy starring a bad ass main character with unquenchable anger who mercilessly hacks and slashes his way through baddies (and innocent people..... what? they give you health!) while climbing treacherous terrain and solving puzzles (he's not just brawn, ladies!).
However, Ascension takes place right after the murder, when Kratos defies Ares for being a dick (seriously, that was a dick thing to do) and as a result, he's pursued and captured by the Furies-- immortal beings formed from the blood of the creatures that existed BEFORE the Titans, tasked with upholding honor, and hunting those that break oaths made to the gods.
GOW is known for epic boss battles, incredible terrain, and an overall massive scope within the world, and Ascension is no exception. The game opens with Kratos chained up, approached by a monologuing, insect-like Fury Sister (no, I don't remember her name) and breaks free, pursuing this crazy creature-lady through the Fury Prison...... which happens to built in, on, and around a giant multi-armed monster!! In fact, the arms move in the background, come to life and fight you, and you have to battle its nasty face-- E.P.I.C.
From there, the story flips between the present in the prison and the three weeks prior when Kratos first discovers he's being pursued. The entire goal of the Furies is not to torture and kill Kratos like they do other prisoners, but to drive him mad and make him rejoin Ares because that's what Ares wants (there's another reason but I'm not telling!). While the story kept me going and had a good amount of twists and turns, as well as a couple very minor characters, it created some inconsistencies with the already existing GOW mythology.
I loved the addition of Orkos, a character assisting Kratos, because you hardly get to know or sympathize with any characters in the other games. Furthermore, Kratos was a bit more human and slightly merciful than in the other games. And while some critics
bitched whined about that, it makes sense in his character arc that Kratos hasn't reached the cold, angry warrior state he has after ten years haunted by the guilt of killing his family. So there.
Gameplay and pacing remains consistent with the series, exceptions being the climbing-- you only need to move the joystick, no more pushing "X"-- and receiving no additional weapons. Instead, the Blades of Chaos absorb powers from four different gods and once they're leveled up entirely will give Kratos a special magic ability. This is probably the most dumbed down version of GOW's gameplay, but for beginners it'll be nice and straightforward. Plus I liked each separate power and the special combos that came with a specific god (Hades was my favorite).
There was quite of bit of climbing, lots of puzzles, but they broke up the action nicely since the boss battles are insane! Speaking of insane, the graphics are gorgeous, making the gore more detailed and bloodier than ever. Yes, I'm aware I hate horror movies with a lot of violence, but for some reason GOW doesn't bother me.... and it should considering that when you gut monsters or crack skulls you see EVERYTHING *shudder* God of War is not for the kids, parents!
The single-player campaign lives up to the God of War legacy and will satisfy your craving for mythological violence and combat. One note: there is NO SEX MINI-GAME. (For those of you new to the series, all five of the previous games contain an optional sex mini-game... usually in a brothel... that earns you a ton of red orbs for leveling up your weapons.) The lack of this traditional element didn't bother me since Kratos uses sex to fill the void of his guilt and none of that has set in yet.
The game also has [the stupidest] New Game Plus, so you can replay the story campaign on the same difficulty with which you beat the game but this time using everything you earned. HOWEVER, you can't earn trophies in NG+ nor can you transfer your leveled up Kratos to a higher difficulty. Which, in my opinion, is super dumb. Rather than find a game "enjoyably challenging" on an impossibly hard difficulty setting, like certain gamers, I find it frustrating to the point of wanting to chuck my controller at the television (so much for anger management, amiright?). And that's just not fun. If a game makes me consistently angry, I stop playing.
I'm not a fan of online gaming, but my husband tried out the new GOW Multiplayer mode and had a great time with it. It's a change of pace from shooting people in Call of Duty and has unique leveling up elements with armor and weapons. However, it takes a really long time to build powerful weapons and armor, making your character vulnerable against more powerful players. Also, there are major server issues that caused Michael to lose the points he earned even after beating a level-- not cool. And while he did enjoy himself, the multiplayer wasn't fun enough to keep him coming back.
Overall, God of War fans will find the sixth installment in the series a worthwhile purchase, though I'm not sure how many will stick with the multiplayer after an extended amount of time. Well done, Santa Monica Studios!!
Rating: 8.5 out of 10 slashes