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Sony Santa Monica
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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.