God Of War Ascension Reviews Currently Sitting At 79% On Metacritic, Well Below GoW III

So what went wrong?

Our review for God Of War: Ascension went live yesterday – it’s spoiler free, so have a read. Alongside it came reviews from pretty much every other site, with a couple of exceptions, and as part of that Metacritic’s page for the game burst into life, jumping from the 70s to the 80s, before resting (this morning) on 79%. That will change, but it’s where it’s at now.

That’s a good way below God of War III’s 92%.

With a mixture of scores ranging from the 7s to the 9s, Ascension has at least garnered a solid bottom-rung and an impressive top-tier in terms of rankings, which means that anyone on the fence can rest easy knowing the lowest score given is still a ‘very good’ 7/10.

But why is it still a good 13% below the last PS3 game in the series? Fatigue in general, perhaps, with Kratos’ latest not really pushing the bar, or just the fact that it’s simply not quite as cohesive a game. It’s still a good single player experience (in isolation, 7/10 seems fair for the campaign) but the multiplayer appears to have been quite divisive between critics.

It’s worth bearing in mind that aside from the various early betas open to everyone, the multiplayer servers only went online on Monday, and although there were sessions available for everyone to test the online modes, only in the medium and long term will the nuances and strategies for that side of the game make themselves known.

Our score for the game bounced around a little before resting on an 8. An 8 is “very good” here on TSA, and although we had quite a few issues with the game (notably the silly QTEs and the sometimes iffy level design) it’s worth bearing in mind that these aren’t isolated to this particular entry in the series, and there’s something in New Game+ that removes one major complaint and a second run with prior knowledge through fixes the other anyway.

This isn’t justifying the score as such, it’s trying to explain it outside of the review itself. Ascension will tick pretty much every box that God of War fans are wanting, despite not being perfect and despite dialing down the scale of the enemies for the most part.

Remember though that in Ascension Kratos isn’t a god, he can’t really fight other gods, and instead Santa Monica have focused on providing him with huge scale environments instead of huge scale enemies. There’s a couple of big guys, but this plays out more like the two (brilliant) PlayStation Portable games in terms of bad guys.

I still have an issue with the Furies in the game – they should be absolutely devastating yet instead, depicted in their human forms, they’re little more than regular bosses with added health points and a few extra tricks. They’re never scary enough to warrant all the build up, sadly, unlike the screen-filling Titans we know and love.

But, yeah, Ascension is good. Very good. The puzzles are smart (I really enjoyed two of them, especially the last one) and there’s enough references to Greek mythology to keep the interest levels up beyond all the scrapping. The one god barely touched in the series plays a visually impressive part towards the conclusion, and there’s enough challenge here (even on Normal during one section) to satisfy the hardcore fans.

Not perfect, no, and a little short on God of War III, but still very good.


  1. I know TSA love GOW and plenty of people who visit this site, but I just don’t get it. Its a button masher and each game seems very similar to me, based on the demos/videos. To have the 4th one in the series get an 8 or 7 I think is very good, as it seems very samey.

    • But isn’t every game sequel ‘the samey’ why change what people love but the story

    • I don’t get the hype around the franchise either. Different strokes for different people, eh? :)

    • If you play the combat as a button masher then yes it’s a button masher.

      That’s how I think of Street Fighter, Tekken, Mortal Kombat… But I believe people who get great enjoyment out of that genre play it anything other than mashing buttons.

      It’s a story driven adventure title imo with combat that is as tactical as you choose to make it. You certainly do a lot better by block & countering, using ranged attacks to keep enemies at bay, using short range strong attacks to finish people off… And an upgrade tree that reveals tons & tons of combos which reward skill & timing as as the ability to merge them with basic moves to keep enemies at bay so you can pull them off. That’s not to mention the puzzles and everything else in the game.

      Reducing a game to a core mechanic would see me classify KZ3, Bf3, CoD, FC3 etc to nothing more than constantly moving the centre of the screen over an enemy & pressing a button. Uncharted etc – exactly the same but ducking behind cover in the process.

      You certainly can choose to play through the combat by spamming buttons, but that’s far from all it is or even a real part of it.

      Horses for courses and all that.

      • Not on Titan you can’t. Not for a second.

      • cc_star I definitely see what you are saying. I hated it when I played my sister at Tekken and I was trying to do all the great moves while she smashed the controller doing the same hadukon and won.

    • I’m with Bilbo on this one. I stop playing the 3rd one as I just couldn’t get into it… just didn’t like it. However I did really enjoy Dante’s Inferno which is strange.

  2. If it wasn’t for the multiplayer i would have thought this probably should have been a vita game.

    God of war needs a new lease of life, that may mean saying goodbye to Kratos unfortunately.

  3. “Our score for the game bounced around a little before resting on an 8” what did it bounce from, higher then 8 or lower than 8?

    I agree about the furies based on the demo anyway she just looked average like a small boss, from the trailer they made it seem like they was the shit not to be F’d up with.

  4. We know santa monica is working on GOW4 for PS4 so I always thought of this one as epilogue for the series in PS3, something done relatively quickly and not as deep as GOW3, with a new feature to attract attention (online) and to get some extra money out of the same engine before the new generation comes out.

    The scale of the game, the way its been presented, i did expect it to have scores around 8 and honestly, i think they did also. Its just not as ambitious as the 3rd one.

    while i dont mind it, it would have done a huge favor to the vita if it had been released on it. I own all GOW to date, and ill be picking up this one eventually, but I also think the series need new life as jimmy said.

  5. To be honest I could see this coming a mile off.
    Unlike a lot of prequels, SM are actually handling GOW:A properly. Kratos is a human and is therefore lacking his special powers and abilities. As a result the game is naturally going to be a bit toned-down and not as hectic. Of course, recent GOW games have been all about huge, epic set-piece moments so it’s bound to feel a little jarring when things seem a bit scaled back.
    Throw in a half-baked MP mode and you have a package which just isn’t going to have the same impact as GOW 2+3 (or indeed Ghost on PSP).

    Still, I’m a huge GOW fan and love the storyline so I’m sure I’ll enjoy it, I’m just saying I wasn’t expecting GOW:A to out-do its predecessors.

    • I agree, it seems a lot of people wanted it to be even bigger and louder than 3, but I’m glad they kept it a bit more down to earth and different in that respect.

  6. This new game plus thing is driving me mad! Can someone link a spoiler or something to tell me what it is? Can’t find it anywhere online and the repeated references are a tease!

    • I mean so it isn’t directly obvious for someone else browsing the comments, to keep the surprise intact.

      • spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler You find multiple items during the game (if you look hard enough) that unlock abilities on a second run. One of them auto completes the QTEs

      • What a weird thing to implement. That’s basically them saying “we know that part of the game sucks, so please endure it during this playthrough, we won’t make you go through it on your second playthrough!”?

      • That’s not the only one, either. I found half of them, I think.

      • Is that *that* much of a spoiler? It’s good though. I remember that in GOW III though…

      • To some I’d imagine it is.

  7. Speaking as a God of war fan (so far i’ve bought 1st game on PS2, both PSP games-yet to try Ghost Of..), the HD Collection Vol 1 on PS3 and God Of War 3 on PS3…

    This, to myself really is a game that just is’nt needed.The story was pretty much done with now with sequels, prequels etc.Games never been about MP, so to me, it’s just a check list appearance.

    I’d love to see a brand new God Of War on PS4, but, with a brand new setting and era, there are so many areas of mythology yet untouched, Norse, Celtic, Egyptian, Mayan etc etc.

    Tap into a vien of another culture, design game from ground up, new character etc etc.

    As it stands this just screams of pushing a game out, refined graphics engine, tick box of QTE’s, angry bloke, multi-player etc etc and it looks like the ‘throwing everything at it, see what sticks’ approach just has’nt impressed reviewers.

    Lessons to be learned here.Instant death syndrome in games, enough to ensure they get inital play through then sold on by myself.

    • not one negative review on metric by the way.

  8. So 79% is bad then? Damn gaming is becoming more mental daily. Soon 89% will be a failure.

    • Not sure anyone’s said that. Just TSA being curious in a comparative sense when we hold up GOW 3 and try to work out how a double digit slip has come about.

  9. Firstly, it doesn’t take that many 7’s (and there aren’t that many) to drag the overall mark down.

    Secondly, it always baffles me what mark will make its way to metacritic and which ones that won’t. I’ve seen many 8’s and 9’s submitted to n4g.com and that aren’t on metacritic.

    Thirdly, I find it ridiculous how a great amount of games these days are criticized for delivering qualitywise but “more of the same”, while a game like TR is lauded for making it into something is never was (namely a mashup of UC 3, AC 3 and a version of Lost with 18-20 year old characters; or at least they act as if they were).

  10. Personally, i am more than tired of Kratos’ antics (& more acccurately, his anger at pretty much just about anything – I swear heads would roll if he as much as got sand in his sandals!).

    If this was a GoW type game (note the ‘type’) with a different protagonist, i probably could have gotten on board, but Kratos just plain bores me to be honest. Perhaps that’s the feeling with some of the reviewers too?

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