In the God of War games, you play as Kratos, a Spartan soldier in ancient Greece bent on destroying each and every Greek god that gets in his way.
Previous titles in the series have slain an entire pantheon, from Hades to Zeus, so as "God of War: Ascension" hits shelves this week, the biggest question on everyone's mind is … who is there left for Kratos to battle?
After completing "God of War III" in 2010, I came to the conclusion that the only viable way to keep upping the ante in terms of scope was to introduce the primal gods like Uranus, super-massive beings that created the cosmos. Also born out of the primal gods was a creature with a hundred arms called the Hecatonchires, a shoe-in for the super-sized world of God of War.
I am happy to report that both are featured within the first five minutes of this game.
To move the series forward, Santa Monica Studios had to take the mythology back, delving into the origins of their world and the origin story of Kratos. Early previews for Ascension may have focused heavily on new multiplayer offerings, but the single-player campaign still offers all of the massive set pieces and over-the-top boss battles that the God of War series is famous for.
In "Ascension," Kratos is bestowed with the ability to manipulate environments by controlling the aging effects of time, breaking bridges and reassembling villages with blasts of magic. The effect blends two series staples, puzzle solving and larger-than-life moving environments, to impressive results.
While the majority of the game features inspired, fast-paced game play, "Ascension" could have benefited from a few more weeks of QA. Some puzzles could have used reminders about where to go next. Restarting from more than one checkpoint might have solved that.
In testing the game, less-than-flawless camera work sometimes hindered things. A fixed angle once froze with Kratos off-screen after the environment healing ability was used.
There were also some glitches that stopped buttons from working when fighting mid-sized enemies close-up and during a few flawed sequences where players were asked to move as fast as possible to avoid falls or being crushed to death. In many of these challenges, Kratos would die repeatedly unless the player nailed jumps that were extremely hard to time.
In all, you can expect nine pleasantly exciting hours and one frustrating hour from "God of War: Ascension." The game is available now for the PlayStation 3.