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.