PS3 Reviews: God of War: Ascension Review

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God of War: Ascension Review

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Graphics:

 

9.3

Gameplay:

 

8.8

Sound:

 

9.1

Control:

 

8.3

Replay Value:

 

8.0

Online Gameplay:

 

7.5

Overall Rating:       8.6

 

 

Publisher:

SCE

Developer:

Sony Santa Monica

Number Of Players:

1-8

Genre:

Action

Release Date:

March 12, 2013

In truth, the overall quality and widespread appeal of the God of War franchise never relied solely upon the stellar gameplay. The main character, Kratos, was a bad-ass of mythic proportions (pun intended) and fans must attribute part of their entertainment to his reckless brutality, his horribly scarring past, and his epic seething rage. When you get a seemingly more carefree hero and a largely ineffective and unnecessary multiplayer option, you get a less impressive title.

Which isn’t to say God of War: Ascension fails the quality litmus test. It really is a great game, even if the graphics are indeed the best part of this slick, scarlet-drenched production. The detail is fantastic and the animations are superb; the environments are beautifully sculpted and even eye-popping at times, and the coloring and shading is spectacular. That being said, I don’t believe the general design is quite as good as it has been in the past, and I only say that because I hold this series to extraordinary standards. It just doesn’t seem quite as diverse or as inspired as the GoWIII palette, which fans will undoubtedly notice.

It’s still gorgeous, though, and the audio absolutely crackles with every gut-wrenching impact. The sounds of combat have always been a high point of the series and thankfully, that hasn’t changed in the latest iteration. The soundtrack is also full of great musical selections, ranging from upbeat fanfare-type scores to deeper, more foreboding pieces. There’s very little to gripe about, but I will say the voice performances don’t seem quite up to par this time around. Perhaps it’s because acting in the industry has continued to get better with every passing year, and the standards continue to rise. Still, technically speaking, Ascension is an elite title.

What you remember and love from this award-winning franchise is still here: The gory, sometimes grotesque combat, the frightful, freakish foes, the awesome weapons, and the spectacular set pieces. There’s a great sense of scale throughout and one never tires of the combat. As always, fighting is the bread and butter of God of War and Kratos is as deadly as ever. He has even added a few tricks to his expanding repertoire of supernatural skill and ability, so there’s no reason you shouldn’t enjoy playing through the well-paced campaign. No reason at all.

…unless, however, the story and this new, more toned-down Kratos doesn’t agree with you. I think the writers wanted to make the plot a little more psychological and even philosophical here, rather than focus on the more obvious, blatant themes of rage and revenge. And typically, I would support that. But this is a series built on rage and revenge; as I stated earlier, it’s the core principle of each adventure. If you remove that core and attempt to replace it with another one, you’re going to lose the protagonist’s recognizable identity. To be perfectly honest, I have no desire to see Kratos on a quest for “truth.” I want to see him on a quest to beat heads in.

Maybe it’s a bad idea to quell creative ambition, and perhaps I shouldn’t be siding with the concept of producing the same ol’ same ol’ to appease those who despise change. And yeah, he still beats heads in, but the inner fire seems gone; now it just feels like he’s doing this for fun. And I really do believe that Ascension is missing some of the driving spirit upon which previous Kratos adventures thrived. As for the gameplay, that’s where you’ll find the familiar stomping grounds of our favorite bald brawler, and it’s almost as good as ever.

The combat is just as responsive and exhilarating as before, and there’s a ridiculous amount of grisly entertainment. Beheadings, disembowelments, spine snapping, skull crunching; it’s all in-your-face and appropriately insane. It feels like there are more QTEs this time around but they’re relatively easy and they don’t necessarily bother me. On the other hand, I know some action enthusiasts who frown on the practice, as it essentially negates the need to take down the toughest foes with the best and most complex combinations. And indeed, boss fights do feel easier this time around due to an abundance of QTEs.

One of the new additions is elemental damage, as Kratos can now imbue his blades with fire, lightning, ice, and demon powers. Electricity shocks an opponent, while fire can set foes aflame and inflict heavy damage depending on the enemy. You’ve also got your typical set of spells, which are both highly effective and a feast for the eyes. Another fresh gameplay feature is the well-documented ability to snag weapons from fallen enemies, so you can wander around with secondary arms like various swords, hammers and spears. These can also be used in new attack and combination styles, so there’s an extra level of depth.

Then you’ve got the puzzles, and I’m a little surprised they play such a significant role. Some of the later puzzles are definitely demanding, especially because you’ve got the new skill that lets you rebuild destroyed parts of the environment. Such challenges offer a good change of pace and allows you to relax and take a moment to recharge your combat batteries. The platforming isn’t as accomplished, though, as the camera can be problematic and such sequences just last too long, or are needlessly taxing. I had hoped the camera/platforming issue – which was in existence to some extent in GoWIII – would have been fixed entirely for this new entry.

Of course, we all know this new effort features multiplayer for the first time in the franchise’s storied history. And as I feared, it just doesn’t cut the mustard and as such, doesn’t enhance the experience. The combat is slower than it is during the campaign and as you lose much of the atmosphere that drives the story forward, most multiplayer sessions just turn into button-mashing bouts. This isn’t exactly satisfying and with such large arenas, you don’t get a distinct feeling of urgency or tension. I usually dislike crowded multiplayer maps but this goes too far in the other direction.

Trial of the Gods is probably the best multiplayer offering, as you and a buddy have to face down the oncoming demon hordes. They come at you in waves and as the arenas are smaller here and the action is constant, this is more involving. Plus, you get experience that can be used to unlock new abilities for your character, and that’s a good reason to return to the online fray. It’s just that none of this anything special. It’s probably about what you would expect with nothing to really amaze you. I am of the opinion that not all games require multiplayer (contrary to mainsream belief) and I feel vindicated in my belief that GoW definitely didn’t need it.

God of War: Ascension is another great entry in one of the most acclaimed video game franchises of all time. Unfortunately, considering the bar is always set very high, any entry that doesn’t score above a 9 will be deemed a disappointment; there’s just no avoiding that. Despite the greatness of the combat, the new additions that enhance our enjoyment of the brutal battle, the awesome spectacle and sense of scale, and the top-notch graphics, we do feel – to some extent – let down. We seem to be missing the very core of Kratos, the awe-inspiring nature of the series isn’t quite as obvious here, and the multiplayer isn’t up to par.

Just remember— It’s still a game you absolutely should play, as it’s better than most. That sometimes gets lost in all these complaints that arise when a game doesn’t get over a 9 on a 10-point scale…one of the fallacies of our accepted mode of game analysis.

The Good: Amazing, incredibly detailed visuals. Stunning landscapes and vistas. Hugely satisfying audio effects. Combat is gut-wrenchingly awesome, and the small gameplay additions work. Good depth and variety. Well-paced campaign.

The Bad: Camera can be dysfunctional, specifically during platforming. Kratos doesn’t feel like Kratos. Multiplayer isn’t anything special and ultimately wasn’t necessary.

The Ugly: "Oh, the ugliness is the best part."

3/12/2013 Ben Dutka

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Comments (44 posts)

Nas Is Like
Tuesday, March 12, 2013 @ 11:33:27 PM
Reply

So we have another God of War winner, as expected. Will be picking it up sometime soon.

Thank you for the review. Reading the full review right now.

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bigrailer19
Tuesday, March 12, 2013 @ 11:51:52 PM
Reply

Good review. Im quite enjoying the game. More so than a high 8, its another solid 9 in my book.

I actually think the mp is good. Its incredibly balanced, due to the slowed down combat. I mean it had to be done, to actually make it less of a button masher, I think its a matter of perception.

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Xombito
Wednesday, March 13, 2013 @ 12:01:46 AM

I'm digging mp as well. Why not add it? Especially when single player is solid? Your only adding to something already great.

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bigrailer19
Wednesday, March 13, 2013 @ 12:14:44 AM

Ill be honest I didnt think like that before. I was a very pro sp only fan. But now, youre exactly right. Its a good compliment to the already amazing sp experience.

The game is just super solid, and the gameplay is just to good, that includes the mp. Again they really did an incredible job with it. Addition welcomed! I may not play it like I would a CoD but if anything it will keep my GoW itch, scratched when I finish the campaign!

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ZettaiSeigi
Wednesday, March 13, 2013 @ 7:10:55 AM

I haven't been able to buy the game yet just because I cannot find the Collector's Edition anywhere! But I digress...

I have played the multiplayer beta and I thought it was very enjoyable. If you seriously want to win or if you want to be of any use to your teammates, this game is far from being a button-masher. So I would definitely have to disagree on that part of the review. It is great to hear that the god allegiances were very balanced because the complete opposite would ruin the game for everybody.

So yeah, I'm absolutely getting this game and will be looking forward to playing multiplayer with some of the folks here.

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bigrailer19
Wednesday, March 13, 2013 @ 12:11:59 PM

You will really enjoy all tge aspects of the game it sounds like. I know I am.

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Jed
Wednesday, March 13, 2013 @ 12:12:23 AM
Reply

What I've seen so far has been great. I haven't tried MP yet, but plan to soon. I'm glad to see another strong score for ascension.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, March 13, 2013 @ 12:24:33 AM
Reply

Sounds about right.

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AcHiLLiA
Wednesday, March 13, 2013 @ 12:32:30 AM
Reply

Anybody out there who is playing the game already., Does the game take place before Chains of Olympius?

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PS3_Wizard
Wednesday, March 13, 2013 @ 12:35:23 AM
Reply

I don't know why I thought this was a prequel...

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Nas Is Like
Wednesday, March 13, 2013 @ 12:52:15 AM

Uh oh. Early signs of you losing your wizard powers.

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PS3_Wizard
Wednesday, March 13, 2013 @ 5:05:27 AM

Hell yeah...im slackin on my jackin.

Off topic-

Which ia iller? Illmatic or God's Son?

Last edited by PS3_Wizard on 3/13/2013 5:07:37 AM

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slugga_status
Wednesday, March 13, 2013 @ 10:33:07 AM

It is a prequel.

Off topic- know you didn't ask me but that Illmatic > God's Son. One of those albums where if isn't in your collection then you don't like hip hop

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Oxvial
Wednesday, March 13, 2013 @ 1:34:44 AM
Reply

I was sure this wasn't going to hit a 9 with so damn multiplayer hype, I just hope they learn their lesson and dont put mp on GoW again, they want a multiplayer game similar to GoW? well do another franchise.

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NaughtyDog
Wednesday, March 13, 2013 @ 2:06:21 AM
Reply

Good review Ben. Still playing through campaign and so far it's a 9 in my book. It does feel different of a GoW game as you say but to me it's a nice refresh to the series and Got to remember Kratos is just a man looking for answers but still in a spartan brutality way! LoL. Oh and on the Bros before hos trophy, I just got it and that ex g4 guy is a dumbass, when everyone gets to it they will see how much an idiot that guy is for even mentioning it, trophy doesn't bother me quite nice when it's all done :). Throat punch of the week goes to that dush bag.

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ethird1
Wednesday, March 13, 2013 @ 2:56:59 AM
Reply

This game is a 9. Period. Great game. Online was really an extra imo. This game is all about the single player exp anyways.


BROS BEFORE HOES! lol. This review is way better than Adam Sesslars wussy review.

End of Line.

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___________
Wednesday, March 13, 2013 @ 6:34:01 AM
Reply

really happy to see SM has put back the GOW in GOW!
3 was such a disappointment because it removed so many things that made the original and 2 so great!
this has returned them so im really happy about that!
but what im not happy is this suffers from what EVERY sequel this gen has suffered from!
they bring back some loved things, but also remove some.
why?
wheres the big epic start, and the memorable big epic boss battles!?
GOW3s start was so freaking amazing, in fact we STILL have not gotten a better start to a game!
this is so melodramatic its not funny!
typical sequel, brings back some things but also removes others.
sigh.

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bigrailer19
Wednesday, March 13, 2013 @ 9:33:51 AM

Its a prequel. But I guess you missed that the whole beginning of the game was a big battle on a living town?

Good to see you are at least enjoying it though.

Last edited by bigrailer19 on 3/13/2013 9:34:39 AM

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airwedge1
Wednesday, March 13, 2013 @ 9:34:27 AM
Reply

They should have made the multi-player just be a fighter game, and when you do bosses in single player it uses that same kind of mode. The thing that usually sucks about fighter games is the single player is stupid, but if you can move around and do an actual adventure in the games it would make it better. So why not combine a fighter with an action game. GOW already has the combinations like fighters have anyway. I think it would make for a kick ass game.

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slugga_status
Wednesday, March 13, 2013 @ 10:01:13 AM
Reply

I'm 8 chapters in and it is indeed a great game. Although I will say, I don't feel that Kratos really has the "urge" for this journey so far. I hope that changes further on.

Spent a lot of time in the MP yesterday. I have to disagree there. The MP is done well and is only a button masher if you don't know how to play it. Your armor, weapon, magic, and abilities set everybody apart and makes the game balanced. It'll need new game modes and maps for sure.

I did notice two glitches in the MP when I would spawn without a team and wouldn't be able to hit anybody but people could hit me. Then I could only hit one person and nobody else and that one person could only kill me. CTF mode I spawned with no team and grabbed a flag..game lasted all 10 mins.

Overall, great overall..just missing that rage for the fight.

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maxpontiac
Wednesday, March 13, 2013 @ 10:42:07 AM
Reply

I have yet to play this game (bought it but still playing Tomb Raider) and this seems to be an honest review.

You recogonize that the game is still God of War and it just seems to be missing that special magic that other games had.

Thanks for the great review.

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bigrailer19
Wednesday, March 13, 2013 @ 11:05:39 AM

No magic missing in this one. Its an excellent GoW game. I dont want to say to much because I think its important you get the jist from the game but this is a different Kratos right now, not the normal BA we are used to, so kudos for Santa Monica for portraying that.

The size and scope of the game is still as epic as ever, and the combat is as solid as ever with a few minor improvements.

I imagine you'll really enjoy this one.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, March 13, 2013 @ 1:24:03 PM

I think it's just that once again it's a case of, been there done that, fought that war and won already.

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maxpontiac
Wednesday, March 13, 2013 @ 2:30:11 PM

bigrailer - So, why do believe the reviews are much lower then usual? Not that it bothers me, but I am somewhat disappointed by the overall scores. Heck, the generally ripped Aliens Colonial Marines was something I enjoyed a ton and in fact I got the Platinum on it.

World - Show me a sequel where this isn't the case? I only say this because GOW as a series has been a VERY successful one, so why change a proven forumla? Plus, why does it seem some games are given a free ride from just about everyone yet certain games get trashed for staying the same?

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, March 13, 2013 @ 2:34:43 PM

Most sequels add something to the proven formula, this one actually takes away since Kratos is weaker at this time.

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bigrailer19
Wednesday, March 13, 2013 @ 3:09:55 PM

World -

They have added things to the proven formula despite it being a prequel. The combat is still the same but with enhancements or improvements. It created a more fluid and dynamic combat system. They did capture Kratos strength accurately as opposed to the Kratos in GoW3, but he's not some weakling and they dont portray him that way. They portray him as a fierce spartan warrior with great strength and they use abilities and weapon variations to capture that.

Max-

Honestly I think its because of the mp (which I find great). Most of the reviews love the campaign and speak of it in ways that you would a GoW game. But when refering to the mp they say things to the extent of it being unneccesary or it wasn't all that great. I think its a bias thats bringing the score down. Rightfully so I suppose as a game that has a sp and mp element should be scored based on the full offering. But not when you just feel like it didnt need it.

I cant for the life of me being able to see any review justifying a lower score based on the sp. Its a GoW game through and through. It doesn't feel foreign, it doesnt feel like something new but it certainly feels upgraded. And even so we play GoW because of what it is, they shouldnt change a thing, fans dont want something new they want that experience that its always given us. I know Ben said Kratos is a bit more "carefree", not sure the meaning behind that, but he referred to Kratos also, always being known as a brutal character, and thats still there but the thing to realize is we are at a part in his story where that character from GoW3 simply doesnt exist yet. Thats why I say good for SM for getting that right.

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xenris
Wednesday, March 13, 2013 @ 10:49:05 AM
Reply

Good review. I'm going to wait on this, I have a sneaking suspicion that soon they will release the multiplayer as a stand alone on PSN and I will snag that up.

I'm sure the SP is great but I just can't see the story grabbing me. I was hoping that this prequel would have been before the chains were bound to him, and before he killed his wife and daughter.

That would have been a sweet prequel. Maybe people wouldnt have liked it because he wouldnt have been as strong, and the combat wouldnt have been as iconic with the blades but still I would have liked to see what he was like when he was a father and husband.

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Temjin001
Wednesday, March 13, 2013 @ 11:08:52 AM
Reply

With DOA5+ and NG3:RE just around the corner I won't have the cash for GoW. Maybe I'll find it rental somewhere sometime soon. I'm excited though for this one. I really liked the multiplayer and single player demos. Those had me sold before I read any reviews.

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bigrailer19
Wednesday, March 13, 2013 @ 12:13:09 PM

Its as solid of an experience as ever. If you enjoyed the demo you love the full game.

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Temjin001
Wednesday, March 13, 2013 @ 1:14:46 PM

Thanks. I thought the single player demo was insanely spectacular, not so much for the hardcore play as I would get from NG but for what GoW does best: Incredible set pieces with stunning visuals, art design, and unmatched boss scale, coupled with solid action. It's in a league of it's own in that regard. I'm totally pro-multiplay with these types too. My favorite gaming genre is actually multi-player oriented(fighting games) so I'd love to see high production 'action hack-n-slash' types evolve in the multiplayer realm. Action games like this are a step in the right direction. The NG series is making strides there as well.

Last edited by Temjin001 on 3/13/2013 1:15:35 PM

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, March 13, 2013 @ 1:24:33 PM

Temjin are you new to the series?

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Temjin001
Wednesday, March 13, 2013 @ 1:26:45 PM

what series?

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, March 13, 2013 @ 2:35:05 PM

GoW

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bigrailer19
Wednesday, March 13, 2013 @ 3:16:26 PM

Temjin-

You get all that from the start of the game. It immediately throws you in an amazing set piece that could rival the Poseidon beginning of GoW3 When you realize the size and scope of the situation.

The action remains solid and the gameplay is spectacular. The platforming is smooth, the combat has recieved some welcomed enhancements making it a smoother transition between weapon swaps and utlimately you get the GoW experience you would expect.

I look forward to knowing how you react after you play it.

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Temjin001
Wednesday, March 13, 2013 @ 4:23:21 PM

Sherlock, yes, straight from the orifice of life I'm new to GoW. Lemme tell you more about me. I've been a member of PSXe for a few years now. I love old school jrpg's, especially turn-based ones from the PSX era. I adore Ni No Kuni and believe it to be a watershed moment in gaming. I prefer the new DmC over the old. I hate KZ3. I also used to write editorials and reviews for an upstart site named Velocity Gamer. I sold Assassin's Creed 2 because I couldn't have it next to my elite collection of hits: Dark Void, Two Worlds 2, and Kingdoms of Amular. I also have an anxiety disorder and memory loss and love liberals and think conservatives are sick freaks.
=p

Anyway, not sure why you had to ask that as if I'm a foreigner here.

Do you not remember when we annoyed ben by our preference of GoW2 over GoW3 a couple years back?

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, March 13, 2013 @ 7:17:55 PM

WTF is wrong with you?

Last edited by WorldEndsWithMe on 3/13/2013 7:19:37 PM

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Temjin001
Wednesday, March 13, 2013 @ 8:14:46 PM

hey, chill, you're asking the senseless question.

Last edited by Temjin001 on 3/13/2013 8:14:57 PM

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xenris
Thursday, March 14, 2013 @ 10:33:59 AM

It makes me sad when my two favourite community members argue :P

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Temjin001
Thursday, March 14, 2013 @ 10:59:02 AM

Hello stranger. Are you new to the series?
Mass Effect?

=p

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xenris
Friday, March 15, 2013 @ 6:29:06 PM

Mass Effect, is that the game where you shoot the aliens with a gun ;)??

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, March 13, 2013 @ 1:23:00 PM
Reply

I will get this later on, the only GoW I don't have is Ghost of Sparta

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telly
Wednesday, March 13, 2013 @ 3:27:33 PM

Definitely get Ghost of Sparta some time too, I probably liked the story in that one more than any of the others.

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telly
Wednesday, March 13, 2013 @ 3:27:05 PM
Reply

A few hours in and loving it so far. It certainly stays in the lane, so to speak. This is the God of War you already know, whether you like it or not. But if you were expecting something revolutionary, or at the very least very different, you weren't paying attention. This is a final send-off to the God of War storyline we've had so far, while Sony is clearly saving the new story (and hopefully, some new gameplay ideas that will expand the GoW experience a bit, as this is pretty well-worn territory at this point) for the inevitable PS4 sequels.

As a farewell chapter to the series as we've known it so far, this is a great game.

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telly
Wednesday, March 13, 2013 @ 3:29:24 PM

Ooh, and quick note on the multiplayer: I only played the multiplayer demo so far that was out a couple of months ago, and in the first pass I unfortunately need to agree with Ben. It's unnecessary, and the style of gameplay in GoW just doesn't lend itself very well to competitive play. My thumbs got sore I was mashing buttons so hard when I played...

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