Hands-On with God of War: Ascension

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Hands-On with God of War: Ascension

God of War: Ascension on PS3

God of War: Ascension on PS3

Set before the events of the original God of War, God of War: Ascension is set up as a sort of origin story for the perennially tortured Spartan general Kratos. A sequence early in the game even depicts how Kratos first earned those iconic Blades of Chaos. Watching that scene, I couldn’t help but flash back to the genesis of Spider-Man and The Incredible Hulk, two other social misfits who transcended a personal tragedy to become living legends.

But God of War: Ascension isn’t some dry history lesson. The game begins in the Prison of the Damned, a sprawling structure honeycombed around the body of a vast creature called Hecatonchires, who possesses nearly as many arms as his name has syllables. Sentenced to eternal damnation for turning his back on Ares, Kratos manages to escape his shackles. The newly freed Kratos wastes no time in pursuing his captors, a group of sadistic bounty hunters called the Furies, with predictably antisocial results.

God of War: Ascension on PS3God of War: Ascension on PS3

“Grapple an enemy and Kratos will snare him like a fish on a hook”

Based on my hands-on time with the game’s first minutes, one of Ascension’s biggest accomplishments is the way it thoughtfully refines and rethinks the series’ time-tested combat foundation. Case in point: In prior God of War games, pressing R1 made Kratos reach out to throw a nearby enemy, a sluggish and risky move with limited application. Ascension wisely replaces this with a more versatile long-range grapple, and the results are just splendid. Grapple an enemy and Kratos will snare him like a fish on a hook, leaving you free to hack away with your remaining blade, hurl him at an enemy, or bound forward to deliver a head-splitting shoulder ram. You can use the grapple on the ground, in mid air, or as part of a juggle combo — it’s always a delight. God of War veterans will surely find ways to integrate the grapple into bewildering new combos, but you don’t need to be an expert to see that it grants a faster, more fluid feel to every battle.

God of War: Ascension surprises in other ways too — especially its more dynamic approach to pacing. One thrilling sequence sees Kratos sliding at breakneck speed down the side of a collapsing fortress while dodging ramparts and rubble; in another, Kratos takes a slow, tense stroll through a gloomy prison block. Certain series mainstays have also been rethought or re-envisioned in the name of accessibility. For example, the series’ trademark QTE button-tapping minigames have been de-emphasized in favor of more fluid, responsive close-combat mechanic. And the final game will see Kratos imbue his Blades of Chaos with different elemental properties, from fire and ice to black magic and more, rather than swapping between different weapons. It’s all in the name of smoother, more integrated combat.

God of War: Ascension on PS3

“Hecatonchires lifts, rotates, and smashes the very rooms you’re fighting in.”

Then there are the smaller visual flourishes, like the way Kratos angles his slashes towards the face of a towering Cyclops rather than hacking at its knees as in past games. Or the way the camerawork effortlessly frames the action from the most dramatic and intimate perspective possible.

Ascension’s boss battles are also shaping up to be predictably jaw-dropping set pieces. The first big tussle with the many-armed Hecatonchires is a technological stunner that pits you against swarms of glistening parasites in addition to the big man himself. The environment here is as much of a character as your foe, as Hecatonchires lifts, rotates, and smashes the very rooms you’re fighting in. It’s a feast for the senses and a powerful affirmation of PS3’s continued technical prowess.

Have any questions regarding my hands-on experiences with God of War: Ascension? Leave them in the comments below!

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5 Author Replies

  • Looks nice but the beta for MP was a button mashing disaster. Would be alot better to have Coop online, not a versus mode.

  • I picked up the GOW collection, can’t wait for this

  • May actually buy this at launch. Looking amazing. I’m behind on the story, but given it’s placement before GoW that’s not an issue. So yay.

    @1: I’ve always preferred co-op in general.

  • Got my collector’s edition all pre-ordered and ready to go. I can’t wait for the demo!

    Great job, Sony Santa Monica!!!

  • Cannot wait to get my hands on it, this is the first im hearing of the imbued blades. seems like it could be pretty cool :) I want to try and stay away from anymore info on this game so I dont spoil it for myself but I just cant help it!! aaahhh, March cant get here fast enough.

  • All the God of war games are awesome
    @Sid should we be very excited for February20

  • Looking forward to finally playing this! I preordered the Collection Edition last June or July when it became a preorder. I am trying to imagine a Kratos that smiles. This will be good! No this will be Dang Badass Good!

  • I’m still waiting to hear how long, on average, this single player campaign is going to be; whether it is closer in length to God of War 3, or God of War 2.


  • Literally cannot contain my excitement for this game. The new mechanics look great. It’s great to see Kratos can light the blades on fire again like in Ghost of Sparta.

    Just curious, in the God of War 3 art book, the are some conceptual sketches showing Kratos using his blades to produce fire, ice, etc. Was this something that just didn’t make it in until Ascension?

  • Been trying to get a answer on twitter. Can someone tell me if the Kratos statue with the collectors edition will fit on the gap on top of Pandora’s box from the God of War III collectors edition?

  • Please tell me that the mainstay of “Push a big block against an opposing force (or up an incline), while having to deal with an unlimited supply of distracting low level enemies” wasn’t carried over.

  • Sid, you do know that Hecatonchires means “Hundred-Handed Ones”, right?

  • GoW Ascension will be released in psn store ?!..

  • Dude Iam so freaking excited for this game! I have no whinny complaints, just praise for being… Godly!

  • please……..is it still in stereoscopic 3D???i must know……please……..100 arms fights would look awesome in 3D…..

  • IGN has 30 minutes of footage of the Hecatonchires level… needless to say, my eyeballs melted off my face by the end of it.

  • @1: I complete agree with you!!!

    I remember playing in the MP beta and when I was surrounded by both my teammates & opposing team members & I couldn’t clearly distinguish between my character, my teammates, and the opposing team. Then I would just repeatedly button-mash in hopes of hitting an enemy.

    I think that several separate online co-op modes would be much better than the current competitive MP.

  • This sounds exactly like what I would expect a preview written by PR to sounds like, with the only difference being how quickly you’re willing to throw past games in the series under the bus to make this one sound better.

    This game is going to be fun for sure, but let’s be real, it’s just going to introduce more dumb plot holes, just like God of War III did. Move the series forward, not backward.

    • Fair enough – but the other God of War games (especially 2 and 3) are among my all-time favorites. They’re phenomenal, but one of the things I loved about GOWA is how it refines and improves the core combat without making it feel wildly different. Can’t wait for people to try this one for themselves!

  • Hecatonchires AND the Eumenides in a God of War game? Sold!

    At the GoW3 launch, I asked the writer of 3 if we were going to see the Furies. Guess it just took another game to accommodate my request ;)

  • @1 and 18

    My experience, short as it may have been, was quite the opposite. On my first match, I button-mashed and achieved a whopping 2/7 KDR, however by 3rd match, I was choosing my moves more and managed to get a 7/5 KDR. I only played 3 matches b/c it kept kicking me out saying I had no internet connection, though I clearly did.

    I enjoyed the breath-taking graphics, alongside the minor details that made the game visually amazing. Anyone else notice the intestines when you perform your finisher?

  • Is this still getting 3D support?

  • I guess my one major question, is does this game come before even COO, or is it between COO and GoW?

  • Will this be in 1080P?

  • That is so funny. You can always tell the real gamers from the posers. The problem dizeeStL and JKar275 is that you went into the game thinking that all you have to do is mash buttons and win.But if you actually stop and think about what you are doing it is much more affective. Anyone who just mashes the buttons are the people who lose the match the fastest..Anyone who goes in with that strategy gets blocked,parried, grabbed, thrown off the side and slammed into spikes. My suggestion is think a bit more and you will get along just fine. Jump in and swing wildly and you will get beaten to a pulp. I went up against several people who thought they could beat me by just powering through.They lost by huge margins. Don’t blame the game for your poor skills.

  • I really hope this ends up with a surprise ending with Kratos rising from the ashes of Mount Olympus. I’m dying to see God of War III Kratos in this new engine. The visuals are outstanding!

  • Will it be in 3D like promised?

  • Hi Sid, I honestly think Sony Santa Monica Studios can never run out of ideas to create epic moments in the God of War series :) Wishing the team the very best of luck as we are barely a monthly away from launch. Is it possible for Sony to release an Ascension only bundle, that comes with the Red PS3 plus Ascension for 299.99US$? I own God of War Collection, Origins Collection,God of War3 and I just don’t see the need to own another copy of the entire saga. 359.99US$ feels reasonable for someone who is looking at getting his feet wet in the God of War franchise, but for someone like me who has played and owns all god of war games at launch, I just wanted the Red Ps3 + Ascension.

  • Great

  • Just curious, in what God of War game was the grapple R1? I’ve played all of them, and I could’ve sworn everything grab related was consistently circle. Though it’s been a long time since I’ve visited them, so I could certainly be mistaken.

  • Anybody else catch Workaholics last night? Blake was playing Ascension and I was wondering did they get a sneak peak or were they just playin the multiplayer?

  • The game is looking absolutely gorgeous, but I’ve really had a problem with the blade combat since GOW 3 and i’ve played them all. My issue is that i find them very unsatisfying to use because they feel week and lack impact when hitting enemies, especially the bigger ones, so I primarily used the Cestus in 3 because of this. It appears to be the same in this one from what I have seen, which is really dissapointing, anyone else agree with me? Not trying to troll, just trying to get some interesting conversation going.

  • “And the final game will see Kratos imbue his Blades of Chaos with different elemental properties, from fire and ice to black magic and more, rather than swapping between different weapons”

    So no different weapons in Ascension?? What a bummer :( PLEASE CONFIRM.

    But still, I bet this game will be more enjoyable than GOW3, and that is why I have pre-ordered the CE :D

  • @29: R1 was for magic usage I think :D. But you are right, you grab enemies with circle in previous GOW games.

  • Will the God Of War: Ascension collector’s edition include the amaray case along with the steelbook or just the steelbook case? I wanted to know also if the avatar pack and dynamic theme will be available on the PlayStation Store at a later date? I cancelled my collectors edition pre-order today because my other God Of War games have the amaray case and the steelbook wouldn’t look right in my collection. Will upgrade again if Santa Monica decides to add the amaray case along with the steelbook.

  • I for 1 enjoyed the beta, compared to all of these FPS. It’s originality is welcomed.But on another note this what PS Vita needs triple AAA titles on it’s roster so that it can sell well in other regions.

  • Can’t wait!!

  • @32

    You need to think about this! Kratos just got the “Blades of Chaos” before killing his wife and child. So it would be the weapon of choice. What you are forgetting is that Kratos is able to pick up weapons from the enemies he kills. So they probably didn’t focus on another weapon like the Barbarian Hammer in God of War 2 for him to use in this game.

    My question is how does swords and blades stick to his back without falling?

  • @26,
    When was 3D in this ever promised? GOW III wasn’t even in 3D.
    Not that I wouldn’t mind it, but my eyes can only take about 20 minutes of 3D at a time without getting strained feeling.

  • I can’t wait for this game. Hope you guys show how the statue looks real soon.

  • I seriously cannot wait for this game! I pre-ordered the collector’s edition and I’m hoping to GameStop’s Power Up Rewards Epic Giveaway! The way it looks is beautiful. The fact they paid attention and gave Kratos a younger and not as brutal look ashe did in God of War III but still found a way to make him as menacing as ever is stunning and shows they took their time to put out a great game. I watched IGN’s 30 minute gameplay preview of it and loved how when he attacked the Cyclops, the blades actually attacked his head a moments, instead of just hacking away at its knees. I really appreciate the time and effort Sony Santa Monica has put into this game, and I haven’t even played it yet.

  • When are the Spartans getting the single player demo? We’ve reached 10,000,000!!!

  • What about single player?
    Will it be as long as previous installments?
    Is it as big as previous installments?

  • @38 it was first announced that it was going in 3D on the ps blog, i provided a link here.


    “For those of you with 3D-compatible TVs, you’ll be able to feel up close and brutally personal with Kratos as God of War: Ascension is going 3D. We are creating the game in an intelligent way for 3D and not just a converted experience.”

    >> SOURCE>> https://blog.eu.playstation.com/2012/06/05/e3-2012-god-of-war-ascension-unleashes-on-ps3-next-march/

    someone here says they played the demo on the 3D personal viewer at TGS


    THERE’S MIXED NEWS ABOUT IT BEING IN 3D ALL OVER THE PLACE. most games don’t put the 3D tag on the box (call of duty black ops 2 and epic mickey 2 both support 3D no 3D logo on each box)

  • @38 it was first announced that it was going in 3D on the ps blog, i provided a link here.
    AS QUOTED BY TODD PAPY ON THE PS BLOG. go back to the archive and look at all the posting in June 2012 right around E3

    “For those of you with 3D-compatible TVs, you’ll be able to feel up close and brutally personal with Kratos as God of War: Ascension is going 3D. We are creating the game in an intelligent way for 3D and not just a converted experience.”

    THERE’S MIXED NEWS ABOUT IT BEING IN 3D ALL OVER THE PLACE. most games don’t put the 3D tag on the box (call of duty black ops 2 and epic mickey 2 both support 3D no 3D logo on each box)

  • I love god of war but was really sad how short 3 was, I hope we can go back to longer epic campaigns, 3 was just too short, with MP being added I doubt it. I like SP, I dont like MP gaming. I like to relax, and get lost in games, not compete against a bunch of cheating people online.

  • ehh had enough of the series.

    they should really improved the combat, instead of making it arena style of play.

  • Is the god of war themed dualshock controller coming to the US? PLEASE BRING IT

  • @sid did the graphics impress?did you see any graphical problems that you hope are improved?day 1 buy :) can’t wait!

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