God of War: Ascension PlayStation 3
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Released on 15-Mar-2013
Discover the Origins of Kratos and his never ending fight against the Gods of Olympus in God of War Ascension on PlayStation 3
- Epic New Story – See how Kratos started his Journey of vengeance in this prequel to God of War!
- Introducing Multiplayer - God of War Ascension sees you fighting with or against your friends as you go online to prove your dominance.
- Choose your Allegiance – Choose your alias carefully from Zeus, Ares, Poseidon or Hades, as each has much to offer…
In this prequel to God of War, we see why Kratos becomes the one man army and God of War. It’s been six months since Kratos stood over the blood soaked bodies of his family, tricked by the God Ares into killing them.
Fuelled by anger and swearing revenge on Ares, Kratos breaks his blood oath that binds him to the God he now loathes. But as Kratos finds out, breaking such as an oath is no easy task. Cast into a prison of the living damned Kratos must battle insanity at the hands of the Furies.
As Kratos you’ll battle all manner of mythological beasts and foul creatures using new combat mechanics, whilst tackling new puzzles that you’ll need to solve in order to progress.
For the first time in God of War take the fight online as you battle your friends in coop and competitive modes to prove your superiority on the battlefield! Wield immense swords and hammers fighting in the style of the God of War himself.
Perform devastating combos, launch your opponents into the air or deliver brutal moves that seem to come from the Gods themselves such as flaming arrows from above ad awesome shockwaves to knock opponents back.
Before joining the heat of battle you must align yourself with a God, choose from Zeus, Ares, Poseidon and Hades. Earn their favour in battle and they will grant you access to new weapons and armour.
Customise your warrior with their gifts that will not strike fear into your opponent but also offer you increased strength and stamina as well as making you the mightiest warrior on the field of battle.
Play The Last of Us Demo included with God of War Ascension
To access The Last of Us demo all you need do is put God of War Ascension into your PS3 and highlight The Last of Us option on the main menu and follow the instructions to gain access to the demo when it becomes available.
After all manner of rumours, rumblings and hidden teasers, SONY have finally announced the latest game in their epic God of War series - God of War: Ascension.
While early reports thought it would be a PS Vita title, God of War: Ascension remains a PlayStation 3 exclusive. Described by SONY as "the most ambitious God of War adventure in the series so far", Ascension is a prequel to the original trilogy, giving us the chance to discover the origins of Kratos and see the beginning of his quest for freedom.
A teaser trailer and box art - showing Kratos chained - was also revealed. What wasn't announced, unfortunately, was the release date. We may have to wait for E3 in June before we know just when Ascension will be hitting the shelves.
This week brought the news that acclaimed actor Michael Fassbender will be producing and starring in the Assassin's Creed movie, but that may just be the first trickle of what could be a flood of new video game spin-off films.
Today brings news that Universal has hired two new writers to work on its long-gestating God of War movie. Hollywood Reporter says that Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan, veterans of the Saw series, will write the script. A previous draft had been submitted by David Self, writer of The Wolfman and Road to Perdition. Melton and Dunstan may have cut their teeth on the last four Saw movies, but their next project is Guillermo Del Toro's Pacific Rim, a 2013 blockbuster about giant mechs battling Godzilla-style monsters.
Meanwhile, film industry bible Variety reports that Square Enix has teamed up with CBS Films to adapt last year's stealthy cyberpunk smash Deus Ex: Human Revolution into a movie. No word on stars or director but Phil Rogers, Square Enix Europe boss man, promised a movie that would both honour and explore the "stimulating, engaging and relevant" universe the Deus Ex games provide.
What do you think? Are there any more games you'd like to see on the silver screen?
Last week, the GAME online team took a trip to the Eurogamer Expo in London's Earls Court to get our many hands-on some of the top games that we'll all be playing over the coming months.
The atmosphere at the event was a buzzing and bustling as ever, with gamers coming from far and wide to get their first goes at everything from the Wii U to Assassin's Creed III to Dishonored - which alone had people queuing for over an hour to play!
With plenty of the team there, we were able to get a chance to play quite a few games. Here's what we thought...
Colonial Marines has been a long time coming. It was announced 4 years ago, and from the time we had during the Eurogamer Expo, for us the wait has been entirely worth it.
We got to go hands on with the multiplayer side of the game. Taking up arms as the Marines, we strode into the dilapidated area of the complex on LV 426. It is clear, especially with this level, that attention to balancing the levels is key to how the multiplayer will work.
There were plenty of places to fight back-to-back and funnel the Xenos through giving the marines a sporting chance, but also plenty of narrow corridors for Xenos to get up close, making guns useless, and dark areas for Xenos to avoid detection and hide patiently.
The weapons for the Colonial Marines are taken from, and inspired by, the film Aliens. Set just 17 days after the events of the film Gearbox haven't taken liberty with the groundwork laid down by the 1986 film, Pulse Rifles sound and look like their movie counterparts, the shotguns have a similar look to the pulse Rifles, not everyone packs a sawn off in space for close encounters!
And then there is the Motion Tracker, taken straight from the film, this will be your most used tool if separated from team mates. The Motion Tracker will detect movement around you and give the classic beep when an enemy is close by. Only problem here is that you cannot wield a weapon when tracking your foes, and if they stop moving they don't get picked up.
You'd think that the marines, with guns and motion trackers, would be superior to the Aliens. This really isn't the case! The Aliens are quick, agile and can crawl through ducts and up walls to avoid gunfire or sneak up on unsuspecting prey. On more than one occasion during our playtime in ACM, we'd have aliens attacking from the front whilst a few craftier players crept up behind us and attacked with tails and inner jaws.
Gearbox has done a great job with Aliens Colonial Marines by using sounds and files from the film to create an authentic "sequel" to Aliens.
The only Alien game I have enjoyed before was Aliens vs. Predator on the Atari Jaguar - the others have always disappointed. I approached with some caution, and, I'm very happy to say this didn't let me down!
I also played the multiplayer map very much based on LV 426. We had to play as the Marines against the Gearbox team as the Aliens, and first of all we had to pick the arsenal that we wanted to use. There was a choice of five classes, one of which had the infamous radar on the assault rifle with a shotgun. I didn't find this straight away but when I did I was rocking and rolling.
The sound effects were fantastic and sounded just like the film, and the screams of the Aliens were cool too. If I had been at home I would even have partaken in a bit of Hudson shouting" you want some too..." at the point when my screen was awash with my Alien bloodbath.
But for me, the best thing was that we were told that whoever managed to the score highest would win a t- shirt. As a team, we had lost against the Aliens... but I won that infamous t-shirt! After walking away I listened to customers and their thoughts, and it seemed pretty unanimous that it would definitely be on our radar.
Fans of the original 90s X-COM games needn't worry that this reboot would be moving too far from the RTS traditions. This is still very much a turn-based strategy game, but one that now shines with enhanced visuals and animation to realise the alien-infested world and the XCOM team tasked with protecting it.
The mission I got to try out was short and sweet, ideal for the pace of turn-based combat, which in turn makes it ideal for RTS fans. The isometric view works great for moving and controlling your team, intercut with closer angles during firefights and to reveal key evidence.
The pace may be a little slow for those alien (pardon the pun) to turn-based strategy games, but if you are a fan of the genre, this game will surely be a delight.
I Played this in co-op mode with Kirsten. I had control of the GamePad, which mostly showed a replica of the main screen with prompts to guide me what to press/drag/swish etc. I played the supporting role as Murfy while Kirsten took the lead character using the Classic Controller.
It reminded me a bit of Super Mario Galaxy where player two takes a supporting role of collecting stars while player one gets all the key action, but much more interactive and a greater sense of involvement and contribution. We had a great laugh. It was my first time using Wii U but I think I got the hang of it ok! It was hard to sync up our actions and we gave up completing the level in the time we had, but I could imagine my 10yr old LOVING it - this is definitely one for the kids.
Fast, furious and utterly bonkers, PS AS BR was another addictive treat. Four of us played together and just had huge amounts of fun trying out the different characters and levels where skill very much took a back seat!
The four-player scramble battles were very much the best way to showcase this game, and the choice of characters and fighting styles made it so much more entertaining than a standard beat 'em up. Dante, Kratos and Cole McGrath proved to be the most powerful, but the real fun was to be had with the likes of Nathan Drake and Sweet Tooth, who take the infinitely fun choice of shooting their opponents.
With the interactive environment as likely to take you out as the other players, and a kill vs death ratio determining the winner, this takes the best of beat 'em up battles, multiplayer mayhem and SONY's excellent cast of characters to form a game that will keep you grinning every time you play.
I'd never played an Assassin's Creed title before, despite my friends' insistence.
I was lucky enough to have a go at both the demos - first up, Naval Combat. Starting slowly (and that's being very generous!), I had a darn good go at taking control of the ship and unloading several rounds of cannon balls onto my target. Well, most went in the sea, but I got the gist in the end... just as my ship rubbed up against the rocks for the last time. Next time...
It was such a unique experience with fantastic movement that was so fluid on the water. I didn't think about it at the time but when I think back, I got a sense of being on the ship and movement up and down with the waves, a sense of slowness and heaviness. Very exciting and different, I'd really love to have another go, but perhaps without a queue of not so novice gamers stood behind me whilst I batter the heck out of the ship!
After this, I had a chance to play the 'On Foot' mission demo where I had to make my character climb a cliff face to carry out his stealth mission and assassinate three enemies. I managed to get to two of them but unfortunately my time ran out before I could get number three. Again, next time...
I was knocked out by the gameplay and the the quality of the graphics and scenery was breathtaking. As someone far more at home with 2D platforms or racing games, I can't wait to have another go.
Most Wanted by name, Burnout Paradise by nature, and 20 Years of Convention out of the Window!
Most Wanted sees you getting behind the wheels of some of the sexiest cars in the world to then throw them around the City of Fairhaven and the best part, most of the cars are unlocked as soon as you put the disc in, you just need to find them. Driving in Most Wanted is similar to Burnout Paradise, but the cars have a more defined sense of handling, acceleration and speed since they are based on real cars, and they look stunning.
As you blitz through Fairhaven with up to 7 friends, Autolog will document everything you do so that you can send challenges to your friends for almost anything you do.
Bright. Warm. Totally immersive. This first-person sequel has crisp graphics and gameplay that really make you feel like you're on the island, with everything from the effects of the breeze blowing to making your way through leaves and branches moving and reacting realistically. This is a game that truly gives you a sense of being in the first person - and one that really should be played on a high-end PC!
As one of the more popular games I was only able to get about 10 minutes playing, but during that time I was able to take several different turns and explore several different parts of the island. From lookout posts, to knife-throwing challenges, to hang-gliding and some very vicious guard dogs, the choices of location and action all within mere moments of the respawn point were massive. If the world was this open in just 10 minutes of playing, I can't wait to see what hours of gameplay can offer.
Plus it was fun to do a first-person game with a bow and arrow for a change!
First person + dark moody screens + jumpy horror = too creepy for me!
I declined to play this as I could easily predict I'd upset Nintendo when I launched the GamePad in panic! (I know this as I did exactly that when I first held a real mouse. Ok I was 5, but..)
So I was happy to watch Kirsten, and I did actually squeal when she was suddenly rushed by Zombies coming swiftly out of the water. She'd been distracted looking at her inventory (as instructed by the game moments earlier), and I can deduce from this that you need to become familiar with the GamePad and get used to referring back and forth swiftly or you'll not survive long.
I'd like to have a go at playing this in the safety of my own home... if I'm lucky enough for the big fellow in red to drop a black Wii U down my chimney this Christmas. Or at least invite someone with a stomach so I can sit behind the sofa with my cushion and watch them through my fingers!
Looked fantastic, and played fantastically well, too. It was easy to get to grips with, even for a player who has never played one before. Fast, frenetic and with satisfying button bashing - just what you want in a hack and slash game! The executions were as satisfying as ever and the bosses were amazing - a must for all PS3 owners.
It's very difficult to talk about this game without comparing it to Mario Kart. many karting games have tried to fill the gap for non-Nintendo gamers, but this may be the surprise title to pull it off.
F1 Race Stars offers classic karting gameplay, with simple controls and all the fun, charm and addictiveness you'd want - they even manage to throw in the bonus boosts, invincibility and throwing-stuff-at-other-drivers that makes it more than just a racing game. The F1 roots are still on show - get hit too many times or push your car too hard, and you'll need to quickly drive through a pit lane to get back to full working order.
The drivers and cars may lack the individuality you'd normally get in a game like this, but the tracks - cartoony courses that are like crazy golf interpretations of the real F1 tracks - more than make up for it.
All in all, this is a fun, addictive karting game that has raced to the top of my must-have list this year. The surprise treat of the day!
The most impressive game at the show for me was Dishonored. Great graphics and gameplay. The multiple ways to complete a level is a great idea, but it was the diversity in how you can go about those multiple ways that I loved the most. it's not just open-world levels, it's open-choice gameplay.
Everybody walking away from playing it were talking about how good it was, too.
I really liked the look of this - great visuals giving a real sense of place and intrigue. Watching the others play it, I wanted to get my hands on it too! The swimming was really realistic, and , the effects of the sun in the water as age tried to swim up wowed me, felt errr swimmy! But I wasn't expecting to see Corvo get eaten by a fish in the river!
As well as getting the chance to play games, the developer talks gave us a chance to learn a bit more about the games. For Dishonored, Arkane Studios' Christophe Carrier (Lead Level Designer & Audio Director) and Dinga Bakaba (Assistant Producer & Game Designer) took to the stage to provide a bit of background about the game, and to show that there really are two ways to play it.
In their introduction, Christophe and Dinga told us that Dishonored came out of a love of the first-person game and its combination of stealth and action, and a desire to push the genre further. Gone is the rail-like direction of each level, replaced with a series of open-world levels, designed in a steampunky-style and inspired by plague-era London.
But the biggest point of the game is the choice is gives the player. You can play it stealthily, hiding in the shadows, using your supernatural abilities for minimal combat and fatalities. Or you can go all-out action, with brutal kills and make use of a brand new arsenal of weapons.
They proceeded to demonstrate this with the same level we'd played on the floor, with heor Corvo out to kidnap the Royal Physician (described as part da Vinci, part Rasputin) . First it was done with stealth, using back passages and rooftops, and possessing people rather than elimintating them. Or at least that was the theory - one mistake and the whole place was alerted to Corvo's presence and bit more force was needed than originally planned.
The level was then played in full-on brutal fashion, where no guard was left undamaged (heck, even the maid got it!) and all skills were on display. Decapitation, hacking people limb-from-limb, setting razor mines and stopping time to avoid being shot and take your enemy out were all shown to bloody effect - and rapturous applause in places.
A few extra tidbits came out of the Q and A session at the end of the demo - it is possible to complete the game without a single kill (except bosses). And, most tantalisingly of all - in the later levels, you'll find out that you're not the only one in Dunwall with supernatural abilities...
Everything we see makes Dishonored more and more tantalising. Cannot wait to play it!
God of War: Ascension, the next entry in SONY's blood-soaked mythological saga, introduces multiplayer to the series for the first time, and this has presented quite a challenge for the Santa Monica studio developing the game.
Balancing the need to keep multiple players on screen at once, while ensuring all players can see what they're doing, has required some pretty big changes to the level design. "The main drive of it is the thrill of the competition over the glory of the kill," explains Senior Combat Designer Alex Sulman in the developer's latest video diary. "It's a custom arena designed to really accentuate the combat," he says while showing off a level in which players battle each other while Polyphemus, a giant cyclops, rages in the background. "We've been working really hard on what spaces work well for combat. Wide open spaces don't work. Small compact spaces work, but only if you have a limited number of people. All of that has taken a lot of work."
Balancing the spectacle that God of War fans will expect with the needs of multiple players has also required a rethink where cameras are concerned. "Evolving the camera systems so they could handle multiplayer gameplay was a very large challenge," says Stephen Peterson, Senior Camera Designer. "It was a fun challenge too. We knew right off the bat what we needed the camera system to do. We need to make the cameras more unified, more procedural, so everyone has the same fair view." He shows a wireframe build of just one corner of the Polyphemus stage, with dozens of camera points that the game automatically chooses between based on what's happening on-screen.
God of War: Ascension will be released exclusively for PlayStation 3 next March.
Although it may have wobbled in the early running, the PlayStation 3 approaches the end of the current hardware generation as one of the strongest and most eclectic gaming systems in history. Whether reviving and refreshing its big franchises for new fans, or supporting the more artistically inclined indie end of the development spectrum, a large debt of thanks for 2012's sterling games line-up is owed to SONY. Uniquely among the big platform holders, you could easily fill a list of the PS3's top titles with SONY's own first party exclusives.
Also uniquely among its peers, SONY has done a superb job of dipping into its past without exploiting fans. High definition compilations of classic PlayStation 2 series such as Ratchet & Clank worked both as loving tributes to classic gameplay of yesteryear, and as highly polished introductions for generations of new fans. At the same time, new games featuring the same characters ensured they'll endure into the next generation, with Ratchet & Clank: QForce combining the crisp and humorous platform jumping of old with a frantic tower defence strategy twist.
Also making a comeback was the mighty Twisted Metal. SONY's ferocious vehicle combat game is a representative of a genre that has faded from popularity, but the combination of fantastic multiplayer mayhem, addictive arcade driving physics and the sheer visual punch that the PS3 delivers makes this bratty, splattery action game one of 2012's unsung gems.
Twisted Metal succeeded because it brought back classic gameplay that had been forgotten, but other SONY hits this year worked because they took popular characters and concepts off into new directions. LittleBigPlanet Karting, for example, found Sackboy reinvented as a cuddly textile version of Jenson Button. The introduction of kart racing into the LittleBigPlanet world was exciting enough, but when you factor in the boundless creativity that the game offers - allowing players to use the developer's own design tools to create their own tracks and mini-games - then you've got a game that is a more than worthy addition to the LBP lineage. Even if you never create anything of your own, the fact that the community is constantly producing new, free content is enough to keep you playing for months.
SONY's roster of characters got an even more unlikely make over in PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. This multiplayer fighting game pitted such unlikely stablemates as Parappa the Rapper, Sackboy and Sly Cooper against the likes of Nathan Drake, God of War's Kratos and Bioshock's Big Daddy. It's an insane mash-up of the whimsical and the fearsome, yet it works beautifully. The larger arena-based battles are frantic and hilarious - perfect party game fodder - yet the systems underneath are much closer to the classic fighting game standards you'd expect to find in hardcore genre titles. With former Street Fighter spokesman Seth Killian as the lead designer, it's perhaps no surprise that All-Stars is actually a seriously good fighting game that just happens to have some silly modes for everyone to enjoy. If you haven't picked it up yet because you thought it was just for kids, correct that mistake as soon as possible!
SONY continued to innovate in other areas as well. The PlayStation Move controller found its perfect realisation in Book of Spells, the first in a planned series of Wonderbook augmented reality experiences. Produced in conjunction with JK Rowling, it sees players using an actual book which is transformed on-screen into a dusty old tome from the Hogwarts library. Casting spells and interacting with this magical world is genuinely spellbinding.
Just as magical, in a more abstract way, was the critically acclaimed Journey. Created by esoteric designer Jenova Chen, this thought-provoking experience sets you down in a strange desert with only a distant mountain peak to guide you. As you wander, solving puzzles and navigating the ruins of a lost civilisation, you'll gain the power to float and fly, as well as meeting other players who can collaborate with you to find more secrets. Absolutely gorgeous to look at, and inviting all kinds of gentle emotional responses, it's a true work of art.
Even far away from the arty indie scene, the PS3 had a cracking year. Fans of Assassin's Creed III, for example, were treated to exclusive bonus missions on SONY's console that wove legendary traitor Benedict Arnold into the game's Revolutionary War narrative.
And, remarkably, 2013 looks like it will be even better. Intelligent blockbusters such as The Last of Us and Beyond: Two Souls will be available exclusively on the PS3, along with a new God of War and a new Sly Cooper adventure, and that's all before the summer arrives. The news may be full of rumours and guesswork about the next hardware generation, but there's plenty to be excited about on the consoles we do have!
There's an additional treat in store for anyone who picks up SONY's upcoming mythical slay-a-thon, God of War: Ascension: early exclusive access to the playable demo for SONY's upcoming apocalyptic survive-a-thon, The Last of Us.
You won't need to do anything else - just buy God of War. When the Last of Us demo is available, you'll be able to launch it from the main menu. So simple, even a meerkat can do it. SONY has yet to decide whether this demo will be offered for download to everyone, so there's a chance this will be your only shot at playing Naughty Dog's tantalising adventure before it comes out.
God of War: Ascension is a prequel to the incredibly popular and insanely gory series of legendary brawlers, following man-shaped frown-muscle Kratos as he carves his way through more gods, monsters and hapless humans thrust into his path with only a sword and shield to protect them from his whirling blades.
The Last of Us is an epic post-apocalyptic adventure set in the aftermath of a mysterious fungal virus that brings civilisation to its knees. You'll follow Joel, a gruff drifter, and Ellie, the young girl he protects, as they journey through the ruins of America. Don't forget - the special Ellie Edition is exclusive to GAME and comes with loads of extras.
Both games are exclusive to PlayStation 3. God of War: Ascension carves its way onto shelves on 15th March. The Last of Us follows on 7th May.
If you've been eyeing SONY's upcoming mythical brawler God of War: Ascension but haven't got a PlayStation 3 to play it on, a handy all-in-one solution just presented itself. From March 15th you'll be able to pick up a special bundle containing both the special edition of the game and a new super slim PS3 to play it on.
The bundle includes a 500Gb Super Slim PlayStation 3 in "classic white" - all the better to show off those blood stains - and a limited edition golden God of War DualShock controller. The special edition of the game comes in a steelbook case and offers a copy of the game's soundtrack, a PS3 dynamic themes, avatar and a code that will grant you double XP in the game's new multiplayer mode for a limited time.
Ascension is a prequel to the earlier God of War titles and joins Kratos shortly after he was tricked into murdering his family by the god Ares. The game details his struggle to break free of this cruel deity by finding and defeating the three Furies. As Daniel Day Lewis would say, there will be blood.
Both game and bundle will be available from March 15th.
SONY Santa Monica, the studio responsible for the God of War series, is very excited about the launch of PlayStation 4. The new console boasts a whopping 8Gb of RAM, far more than existing hardware. "We're going to be able to show a lot more, right?" lead game designer Mark Simon told Eurogamer. "If you give us enough time and you give us those specs, we will blow you away."
For now, the team is still concentrating on prequel title God of War: Ascension which launches this week, with plans to support the game's new multiplayer mode for months after release. "To me [the PS4] is imagination land," Simon explains. "We haven't touched it. We're not even concentrating on it. All we're concentrating on is we know we release in a week. We're going to continue to tune and balance and create new content. We still get to think about and imagine how cool it would be, but we're still working on this game on the PS3."
And he doesn't feel we've seen the limits of what the PS3 can do yet. "It's funny. In my head right now I'm like, oh yeah, we totally had to have tapped it out. But I bet you, if you gave us the same hardware, and you gave us another two or three years we would find more stuff to try to extract out of the PS3."
"It's cool for fans," he continued. "I'd be excited if I was a PS3 owner because, I'd know SONY is not just leaving me hanging or waiting until the next-gen comes out, that they're still kicking out really awesome games for me. There's the future, and you're like, oh cool! But there's a whole spring, summer and fall to get through."
God of War: Ascension is out on March 12th, exclusively for PlayStation 3.
It's been three years since Kratos last carved his way across the PlayStation 3, but now he's back in the blood-soaked prequel, God of War: Ascension. But is it worth taking another trip back to Ancient Greece? The specialist gaming press has weighed in, and the answer seems to be yes.
Official PlayStation Magazine awards it 8/10, praising "dizzyingly directed setpieces" and "moments that can rank with the finest in the franchise". The review also highlights the game's puzzles - an aspect previously overshadowed by the brutal combat - as some of the best gameplay in the series so far.
Destructoid is even more effusive in its praise for what it calls "the fastest, craziest, most thrilling rollercoaster ever". There's plenty of attention given to the multiplayer modes - a first for the God of War series - with the 9/10 review calling its inclusion "a daring move that pays off big".
Gamespot is also bowled over by the prequel's energy, declaring it "a gloriously bloody adventure filled with exhilarating combat". The game's stunning visuals are picked out and praised for the level of grisly detail "thrown into each and every stab of a knife, and each drop of blood that flows from a downed enemy's recently spilled guts". "It's all very juvenile", they conclude with an 8/10, "But boy is it fun."
God of War: Ascension is out now for PlayStation 3.
The God of War games are well known for their bloodthirsty combat and gruesome boss battles, but now the series has been linked to something more cerebral. Eagle-eyed American players of God of War: Ascension, the just-released-over-there-but-we've-got-to-wait-till-Friday prequel, have stumbled across a cryptic code buried in the game.
The code is hidden inside a painting of Mount Olympus in a side room during The Cistern level. Examine the painting and you're presented with a curious caption:
Of all the prophecies I have seen, this one haunts my dreams.
The full truth of this nightmare yet remains hidden. - Aletheia
The jumble of letters in the middle changes depending on the language you're playing in, and internet detectives are already hard at work trying to crack the cypher. The most popular theory right now translates the text as "SUN BIRD BULL LION SUN"
Previous God of War games also had similar easter eggs - the first game famously contained a phone number that connected to players to a voice message from Kratos himself - but this one is the most mysterious yet. What does it mean?
I guess we can find out when God of War: Ascension is released this Friday for PlayStation 3
Brash, brutal, spectacular and anything but subtle, SONY's God of War series mimics the style and ambiance of the Greek myths from which it draws influence. Placing players in the leather-strapped sandals of Kratos, a bare-chested warrior sick with revenge, the five previous titles in the series have allowed us to face up to Homeric gods and monsters millennia old - before tearing them limb from limb in a narrative arc that's rarely anything but crimson-soaked. God of War: Ascension, the sixth game in a series that spans across two PlayStations and a handheld, is a prequel that offers, for the first time, an expansive suite of online multiplayer modes to supplement the thrill-ride single player campaign.
That single player story opens with Kratos chained atop a stone column being tortured by one of the Furies - the three sisters who hunt any who break a blood oath with a god. A grotesque monster that sweats attack bugs through her pores, you must dodge her flailing attacks while attempting to break free of the chains. Do so and the hunter becomes the hunted as you propel Kratos forward through a diverse set of Greek environments - ancient marbled temples, majestic aqueducts that power giant mechanical cogs, mountains and rivers - destroying any creature that tries to impede progress.
It turns out, unsurprisingly for anyone who's played the previous titles, that there is a huge number of creatures eager to do that impeding. In the war on mythology, Kratos has an increasingly wide range of attacks at his disposal. You begin the game with just the trusty Blades of Chaos, used to rip and slice enemies into puffs of crimson mist. Light and heavy attacks can be interspersed with one another, while launchers will propel enemies into the air before a chain attack can latch onto them and draw them into you again.
When they're sufficiently weakened, a red or white halo will appear above an enemy inviting a flamboyant finishing move. Larger enemies can even be mounted and used to attack smaller foes, while the biggest monsters must be felled by following on-screen button prompts to trigger gruesome eviscerations. The violence is stylised and cartoonish, but still manages to shock at times.
As the game progresses you gain access to new abilities and tools - four elemental properties that can be added to all attacks (fire, ice, electric, soul), each selected by a swift (sometimes mid-combo) tap of the d-pad. You can also pick up man-made equipment such as swords and shields that can be threaded into your usual slick combos. Later in the game, SONY Santa Monica introduces the Amulet of Urobotus, a non-violent tool that allows players to highlight pieces of scenery and either restore them to their former usefulness, or smash them into rubble. This item is cleverly used in a range of different environmental puzzles, adding welcome variety to the otherwise relentless bloodshed. This item can even be used in battle thereafter, aimed at foes to inflict slow motion on their action, allowing you to manage mobs of enemies with increasing ease.
Collect hidden artefacts in the game and, upon completion, you can replay with, infinite rage for example, or triple the length of time on your combo meter. But the main source of replay value when the storyline is over is the multiplayer section of the game, which allows players to compete against one another using the battle techniques learned in the campaign. Here the game reveals the true depth and intricacy of its battle system, the full range of offensive and defensive moves offering the kind of taut, reactive competition in this context that are more usually found in a fighting game - refuting accusations that God of War is a 'button-mashing' series.
Slick, well-oiled and expertly constructed, God of War Ascension may at times fall a little short of the wonder and spectacle of its predecessor God of War III, but it's nevertheless an enthralling retelling of the Kratos myth for those who are yet to have their appetite for revenge sated.
- Environmental puzzles
- The campaign is over-familiar
- The storyline
- Weak puzzles in first half of game
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