Kratos Begins God of War: Ascension officially hit the PS3 today. And the critics seem, by and large, to like it, although few are stunned with it.
So far, on Metacritic, it’s averaging an 80, and among outlets, that’s pretty much the score range as well.
Destructoid had the most praise for the game, especially the combat:
A lot of the magic behind the God of War franchise is in how minimal work, like simple three-button combos, turns into brutally fantastic results on-screen. Fire, ice, thunder, and soul magics are acquired at different points in the story, and they can be upgraded alongside the standard blades with red orbs. Fully upgraded, these elemental magic additions allow for some pretty explosive attacks — ones that will prove highly useful in the final chapters of the game. Overall, combat feels and looks a bit tighter than before.
Gamespot liked the game but criticized the attempts to make Kratos seem more relatable:
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.
Polygon considered it “a pair of halves, rather than a fully realized whole”, but did they ever love the multiplayer:
“This is based in a kind of rock-paper-scissors arrangement: light attacks can interrupt heavy attacks, but can be parried; heavy attacks break blocks, but can be dodged; dodges avoid heavy attacks, but make you vulnerable to grapples from a distance, and so on. This is further complicated by the option to choose a spear, sword or hammer as your champion’s primary weapon, which allows for flexibility in play style while keeping things more or less balanced.”
Joystiq felt the series was getting stale, and was also concerned with the misogyny of some parts of the game. On the other hand, while they felt multiplayer might be unbalanced, they did like the mode, especially the arenas:
Multiplayer options include variants of free-for-all, team deathmatch, team objective, and capture the flag. The maps are well designed, with environmental flairs that reference other characters and locales from the series. Adding to the environment’s quality are elements that you can use to your advantage, like pre-set traps or giant, static creatures that can be enthralled and used to attack your enemies. Nearly every map has its own special feature that can be harnessed to give your team the upper hand, save for a few maps that are simple battle pits.
And Edge actually enjoyed the multiplayer more than the single-player:
Ascension’s biggest success is a colour-coding system that effectively lets you know when you have an opening and when to run. Unblockable attacks are signalled by a player glowing red, white denotes invincibility, and blue signals a player in recovery. It’s a simple, smart system further improved by rock-paper-scissors combat, cooldown-controlled special moves and a logical, consistent approach to hitstun. Consider our expectations defied: this is the star of the show. While this series’ singleplayer template is showing its age, there’s plenty in Ascension’s multiplayer that deserves to survive the transition to PS4.
In short, if you’re a fan of the series, you’re going to enjoy this game, and the multiplayer looks like a pleasant surprise.