Preview: God of War: Ascension Beta Impressions

God of War is a franchise I love dearly. Everything from the action, item collection, puzzle solving and god killing, this is one of my favorite Sony exclusives out there. I was excited when Sony announced God of War: Ascension, despite the fact we already have prequels to the series. While others whined and moaned, I said “Screw it, everything is dead in the present. Let’s just go kill more stuff in the past.” Then they announced Multiplayer.

When they first announced Multiplayer, I mostly just figured it would be tacked on garbage that served to feed those who have a shorter attention span than the Virtual Boy’s lifespan. I still kind of think it is, but part of me thoroughly enjoyed what I played. The system is simple, it borrows the concept of leveling up and obtaining new gear for your character, enhancing his abilities. They start you off by selecting a God to fight for. In the Beta, we were able to choose between the Ares and Zeus. Ares followers are front-line Warriors who are able to take a hit and use fire magic to burn their foes. If you follow Zeus you were offered special Mage abilities and were treated with the element of lightning. Naturally, being myself, I chose Zeus because I always play Mages.

The arenas feature a several capture points, chests that have score, items scattered around to help combatants, traps, multiple levels, and a Titan standing in the distance. This is definitely a different kind of game for multiplayer, it’s very asymmetrical and hazardous. When a team acquires a certain amount of score, the gods intervene and throw down the Spear of Olympus, which is a super powerful weapon you can use on other players… and the Titan. The Spear must be obtained by doing a button mash mini-game, but beware, the enemy team will also be attacking in full force to acquire the spear.

The customization comes down to armor and weapons. In the Beta, we weren’t offered any modifiers for character looks, but the armor and weapons give your character a bit of his own personality. Completing certain challenges or just leveling up will unlock you new helmets, torso armor and leg armor as well as sword and warhammers. Warhammers pack a heavier punch while Swords are quicker to strike. There are multiple sword and warhammers to choose from, all of which offer different modifiers to stats like power, magic, elemental power, and defense.

The combat is still good ol’ God of War. It was a lot of fun charging into battle with my team and tearing up the enemies with my sword and lightning spells. I was actually surprised how solid the gameplay was, this really isn’t your run of the mill tacked on multiplayer to drive up sales, they put some heavy time into this and made sure that people enjoyed it. At the same time, this isn’t why you should be buying God of War: Ascension. The multiplayer was cool, but it really wasn’t unoriginal. The only thing about it that was original was the God of War combat system. Everything else has been done before, more often than not, done better.

I’d say my favorite thing about the multiplayer was how asymmetrical, random, and hazardous it is. When a Titan slaps the stage knocking me down, or even when he crushes me while I was trying to capture a scoring location, I really couldn’t help but to think “This game is awesome.” I got quite a few laughs out of silly things and just overall fun gameplay because of the randomness. Some people will hate this, but I think it works quite well for some games, God of War being one of them.

If you’re going to get God of War: Ascension anyway, this multiplayer is a great addition. If you’re looking for the next revolutionary step for multiplayer, look elsewhere, because it doesn’t offer anything new to the table.

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