Sunday, 13 January 2013

Preview: God of War Ascension Multiplayer (PS3)

The world's worst-kept surprise: We're getting another God of War game.

Ascension brings us some more Kratos-style carnage but this time an early view of Kratos's descent. Kratos is in the midst of trying to sever ties with Ares – and plans to do so by defeating three Furies. With the action taking place much earlier in Kratos' life, we will be getting a better glimpse of a more human character instead of the remorseless killer we know so well from the franchise.

The multi-player Beta is on-going right now, with two game modes being showcased – a "Capture the Flag" mode and a "Favor of the Gods" mode.

Favor of the Gods is pretty much just a new name for Deathmatch – a free-for-all melee with points for kills and variety. The combat in Favor of the Gods is pretty quick – most matches lasting no longer than a few minutes and plenty of deaths to go around. A variation of Team Favor of the Gods where players with the same allegiance join up is also there and allows for furballs of up to 8 going at it.

Allegiances to a specific god dictate your playing style: Ares, Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades each bring a different set of unlockable content for your character. Specific weapons, magic, and armor are available for each one. Unlockable content becomes available through a combination of gained experience and in-game successes (i.e. so many kills in a certain style, so many wins, or getting the collectables on the map mid-game). As you can imagine, the variety of selectable options for each Allegiance will allow you to find the appropriate kit for your playing style.

The in-game experience certainly takes some getting used to.

Being used to tearing through enemies without much difficulty has pretty much disappeared when you're no longer fighting an AI designed to make you feel indestructible. Human competition makes for some interesting battles to be sure and you'll quickly get desensitized to all the newly horrific ways that you can get killed… smashed, snapped, crushed, splattered, impaled, eviscerated, slashed, mauled, gored and stomped. Well, that was at least all the ways I was killed in my first couple of matches. The controls handle very faithfully to what we've become accustomed to in the franchise, albeit with people more intent to fight back this time. Graphically, the game is downright pretty – a lot to look at, and the blood and gore will definitely flow for this new one.

The arenas can be as dangerous as the competition themselves; while there are some power-ups (weapons, health/magic refills) to be found, the environment can be just as un-friendly as the competition. Spike walls, pitfalls, and NPC's deciding to get involved mean that you not only have to keep an eye on your enemies but your surroundings as well.

The multiplayer certainly does well for itself and doesn't seem to just be an afterthought add-on to a good single-player game, but instead a well fleshed out entity in its' own right. March just can't come fast enough for me…

- Tazman