By Steve Wright
If it ain't broke, then don't fix it. Right?
This is what I've been struggling with ever since previewing the start of God of War: Ascension's single-player campaign. After three core console titles and a couple portable ones too, the God of War franchise is well established. There's no denying it works, nor that it's a huge seller for Sony.
The problem is, the first thing I thought when playing through the opening thirty minutes of Ascension is that it plays like every other GOW game. It's pretty as hell, but it's still "Circle, Circle, Circle, Square, R1." Rinse, repeat. There's gore, there's over-sexualisation, and for me, there's that fifteen minute learning curve where I throw Kratos about in every direction because I forget that the right-stick is for dodging, not camera control.
As I was taking part in any one of Ascension's numerous battles, I found myself wishing for more weapon variety, as in DmC: Devil May Cry, or an efficient parry or block system as I'd just experienced in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. The truth is, it's not to be found in this fourth console iteration of the popular franchise. And why would Sony Santa Monica take that risk right now, on the cusp of a next-gen console that would be a more suitable platform for massive innovation in the franchise's main campaign?
The risks that Ascension takes are in its new multiplayer, and while you can tell that there's been a lot of time and effort put into this new campaign, its still the same old God of War. That's not to say that being like the other GOW games makes Ascension bad... it just makes it samey. Fans of the franchise are most likely itching to bust some heads with Kratos, and fighting the Furies in Ascension will let you do just that.
Regardless of whether or not the game needs change moving forward, Ascension is a polished, traditional experience and will resonate with fans of the franchise. If you want change, give multiplayer a try, and lets hope Sony Santa Monica can push the franchise even further next time around using the power of the PS4.
Am I being too harsh? Too judgemental? You can head to the PlayStation Store right now and grab the same demo I got to play. Have a go and tell me what you think of me assessment of Ascension.
God of War: Ascension comes out on 18 March for the PS3. Head back soon for our full review.