God of War: Ascension Preview (PS3)

If you’re even the least bit a PlayStation fan (if you’re not, what are you doing on a site called PlayStation LifeStyle?), chances are, you’ve played a God of War game, or two. In God of War: Ascension, we get a glimpse of Kratos in his youth, and long before he took vengeance upon the Gods of Olympus. Ascension also brings rise to the first ever multiplayer for the franchise.

If you’re still reading this, you probably have seen multiplayer or even have experienced it through the recent PlayStation Plus multiplayer beta. But now, the first ever single-player footage has been released, and I had the pleasure of going hands-on with the first half hour or so of the game.

Even though Kratos is younger, he’s still the ash-covered killing machine you both fear and love. This might just be his prime, so he’s got even more moves and abilities than before. A new tethering system allows you to reach out and grab enemies at a distance, and send them smashing into the wall, or the skulls of other enemies. It will quickly and very naturally become a staple in Kratos’ arsenal.

As Kratos encounters weapon-wielding enemies during his journey, he can now swiftly kick them to disarm them. Better still, Kratos can pick up and brutalize enemies using their own weapons thanks to the World Weapons system. Four to five different weapons can be grabbed from enemies, in addition to Kratos’ regular favorites like the Blades and… whatever else Kratos will earn along the way – the devs were reluctant to reveal too much, and only teased that I had to wait until March to find out.

But what I did get a taste of for now, was classic God of War, kicked up a notch. God of War was always heavy on dramatically epic cinematic scenes, but they’re now even more so. You can tell that the team drew some inspiration from another popular PlayStation 3 franchise, as Kratos can now smoothly climb towering structures with ease, and wall jump to and from ledges to reach areas that would otherwise seem off limits.

It does work well for the series, considering how massive some of Kratos’ foes can be. In fact, if you thought the Titans were huge, try Hekatonkheires on for size. This multi-tier, towering boss and level all in one makes for an epic opening showpiece for the first thirty minutes of Ascension.

Kratos is imprisoned by the Furies, and is being tortured by one insect-like sister in particular when he breaks free and chases after her. It’s as gruesome as it sounds, but insects rise out of the pores of her chest and use other humans and even Hekatonkheires as a host. These insects take control and burst out of Hekatonkheires massive hands to expose a Chimera-looking (Resistance franchise, not Greek mythology) monstrosity that knocks Kratos to and from different elevations on the giant’s body-turned-prison for traitors.

Familiar quick time events leave these beasts in pieces, and before I knew it, I was being asked to move along. My time with Ascension was over, sadly, but I only have until March 12th to wait – painful as that may be.