“God of War: Ascension” arrived mid-March for PlayStation 3, and while the single-player portion has been reviewed, there’s a new area that’s being explored in the series for the first time. And it’s eerie how I’m running into some deja vu saying that this month, as I said the same thing about “Tomb Raider” recently.
“Ascension” comes with two types of multiplayer packed into it. The first is a full-on team multiplayer mode, where you battle enemies through direct combat and traps while trying to set up a mammoth kill of a monster in the background to proclaim victory. But then there’s also a fun new co-op mode, “Trial of the Gods,” where you team with a friend to tear down waves of incoming creatures. Think of it as a varied version of Horde Mode, but with melee weapons replacing the heavy gunfire.
Let’s talk about the competitive multiplayer first. There is some foundation to be found here, particularly with the way you can set off traps to ambush other players and set up combat scenarios with others, complete with dodging capabilities and the power to finish them off when they’re down for the count. It can be engaging, but there’s some real strategy missing. It’s a matter of “who can get on top of their opponent” first rather than planning an attack and moving forward with it. To some, that might be enough, but it feels a bit shallow.
Plus, the fact that Kratos isn’t involved – similar to Lara Croft’s excusing from the multiplayer mode of “Tomb Raider” – makes it feel a bit impersonal. These warriors you take control of are capable of kicking some ass, but buying a “God of War” game to play as someone else just feels out of place. That said, if more modes are added in the future – like a “Kill the Kratos” mode – we might really be getting somewhere.
Despite the lack of true engagement in multiplayer, Sony Santa Monica is getting off on the right foot here, and it doesn’t entirely collapse under the weight of expectation. Being able to finish off a large, bulky beast at the finale of the match has some excitement to it, and being able to level up and customize your soldiers is a nice touch. It sets the pace for what could be a more fleshed-out multiplayer mode in the next “God of War” – and you know it’s coming.
“Trial of the Gods” fares better, mainly because you do away with strategizing in multiplayer and instead pummel away on enemies with your chosen Warriors, waiting for the next round to begin after you execute some slick moves.
Maybe it’s because of the unpredictability of who you’re facing, but this was a lot more fun than the skirmishes against buddies in the other mode. Still, without Kratos really involved, again, it’s a bit distant from the single player stuff. But, again, this mode could easily grow in future games.
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