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The upcoming God of War… Ascension or Stagnation?

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There’s a pretty good reason why the God of War franchise is highly renowned as a terrific action series and one of Sony’s best IPs in their line of exclusives. The games have continually provided tight gameplay, great pacing, smart puzzles, and a unique Greek Mythology backdrop. That being said, after 3 numbered entries and 2 spinoff titles, the series is looking as if it could use some innovation. After seeing the recent God of War: Ascension footage from E3, however, it’s not hard to see that the game looks very familiar to anyone who’s gutted a centaur before. Is the God of War series in danger of becoming routine and predictable?

I’ll admit that all of the God of War games have aged remarkably well and are still a blast to play today. I’m also aware that we’ve still seen very little of the game so far, meaning I could just be eating my next words very soon (I’m sure the fans would even provide the dishes and cutlery). Even so, the E3 footage worried me somewhat. I feel that by now, the series is due for some innovation, primarily within its gameplay structure.

Why? Well, let’s be honest; all 5 God of War games to date have followed the same basic blueprint. As Kratos, you traverse across a mostly linear world, with the occasional puzzle or combat encounter blocking your way. You then solve the puzzle/kill the enemies, then rinse and repeat. Occasionally a boss fight will ensue. It’s pretty basic stuff. It’s not bad per se, as the folks at Santa Monica studios have executed it very well with their trademark pacing, puzzles, and an accessible and satisfying combat system. Still, it’s very much a matter of great execution within a very safe framework. If the series still wants to stay fresh, I think it’ll have to take a few risks.

I’m sure many would agree that there’s still untapped potential within the game’s framework. I’m not saying that God of War should become an open-world title; that would kill the pacing that the series is known for. However, there are other ideas that could really compliment the game if given a chance. Maybe some more RPG elements could be incorporated, such as an upgradeable armor system. Perhaps levels could provide more exploration and be slightly more non-linear. More ways to interact with the environment, like destructible environments, would be welcome. How about less quicktime events for bosses, and instead the player interacts with the bosses more? All ideas worth trying out that I just don’t see in the E3 footage.

Oddly enough, the only real innovation that has been witnessed so far has been within the game’s multiplayer mode. The gametypes showcased so far seem like they have a lot of depth within their design and they look very unique overall. Perhaps the multiplayer will be what sets this apart from other God of War games. Even so, I can’t help but feel that the single-player could use some similar attention. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not worried that Ascension won’t be fun to play. After all, it’s practically guaranteed to be a great game knowing Santa Monica’s track record. I’m just worried that it might not surprise and thrill us in ways that previous games did.

What do you think, single-players? Do you think Ascension will be more of the same, or is the series perfect as it is? Let us know what you think! Make sure to also follow Velocity Gamer for multiplayer coverage of God of War: Ascenion, which releases on March 12, 2013 for the PS3.

Michael Urban
Now an occasional contributer, Michael Urban is the former Editor-in-Chief at OnlySP and has the nickname "Breadcrab" for reasons his therapist still doesn't understand. From the moment he first got hacked in Runescape, he's been uninterested in multiplayer games and has pursued the beauty of the single-player experience, especially in terms of story and creative design. His hobbies include reading, writing, singing in the shower, pretending to be productive, and providing info and feedback regarding the games industry. It is an industry, right? You can ask him a question or send him spam at michaelurban@www.onlysp.com. Also, follow him on Twitter or the terrorists win. (@MichaelUrban1)

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7 Comments

  1. I'm with you Mike. I have really enjoyed the GOW series but after playing the last 5 games I'm just not that excited for this game. I will get it because I love Greek mythology but it won't be a D1P for me.

  2. Michael, I'm actually less optimistic than you. Except for the wannabe-gimmicky time reverse thingamajig, it looks EXACTLY like all the other games. I don't like the "throw in a few new abilities that's really just the same type of weapons with new sparkly colors coming out of them" type of changes that they're making in sequels (spinoffs are whatever, but PS3 GOW shouldn't be just a graphical upgrade of PS2 GOW). I still haven't finished GOW3 simply because I got bored; same with the PSP ones.

    So yeah, I hope you're absolutely right about them not showing much in the E3 debut trailer. They have almost a year to do SOMETHING different. For now, to answer your question, "stagnation."

  3. I'm still excited either way. The gameplay they showed off, even though it's "more of the same" God of War is just fun for me, I just don't get bored playing these games. For once, I"m actually interested to see what they do with the multiplayer as well, as what I've seen has looked pretty good and not just tacked on material to make an extra buck.

  4. Well I think, that its way
    to early to say its stagnation.

    The most thinks we saw is
    from the Multiplayer but not much about the features in the
    Singelplayer.

    Ok we see the
    Time-feature, what reminds me a bit on GoW 2, but we saw only one
    spot you can use it.
    So I think we should wait and see.

  5. i think it's worn out it's charm. god of war 3 i think for most people was the ceiling point for the series. which it's true it's hit a ceiling and i think that ascension won't hit a home run as it did with previous entries in the series.

  6. There's alot of games with the same linear puzzle, combat themed gameplay/genre. But GOW is the cream of the crop, and that's all that matters. If the genre is tiring you out then what's to say about every FPS/MMORPG ever made?

    Or maybe all of you have suddenly became too old for video games.

    1. After replaying God of War 3 last week, I can safely say that I'm ready for more!

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