After a surprisingly deep multiplayer beta, God of War Ascension has released a surprisingly meaty single player demo. This was rumored to just be the E3 2012 demo for everyone to try out since it had made it's way into certain Sony promotions. It is actually the opening of the game's single player and lasts around 30 minutes. There are even a few video bonuses to this demo, such as a behind the scenes for Ascension and random videos for History Channels upcoming series Vikings.
As a heads up, this entire demo is sponsored by Vikings so get ready for some in your face advertising
After you start up the actual demo, you are thrown into the God of War story you either love or hate. Ascension is a prequel and takes place before any of the previous God of Wars games, but starts sometime after Kratos decides to strike a deal with Aries. For some unknown reason Kratos is trapped in the prison of the damned and this is run by the three Furies. After a brief history lesson in Geek mythology, you begin this demo by getting the stuffing knocked out of you by one of the Fury sisters.
Once you have had enough, you can start to dodge her attacks and finally break out of your chains. This is the beginning of you chasing a this wounded Fury throughout the prison to get Kratos' favorite thing...REVENGE! After getting caught up with basic controls you do what God of War does best and that is combat. Fighting is actually a bit different this time around and while you still have a heavy, light, and grab attacks. There are now physical attacks that mean using your hands or a weapon you pick up from an enemy.
While these changes felt a bit different in multiplayer, messing around with them in single player lead to much more freedom in chaining combos. This is actually quite impressive as the sixth game in a long running series, no one really expected the team over at Santa Monica to actually change things this dramatically. Just in this small taste of the game's opening, it is nice to see that Ascension is not playing it safe this time around.
The new side weapons you can use that were available in this demo were a sword, club, and spear. Normally most of the other weapons in God of War suck, they are slow or normally never work as well as the Chains of Olympus. Now with these side weapons you can mix and match using them with the Chains of Olympus and pull off a combo that doesn't look awkward.
In fact talking about this games looks, it is hard not to mention that Ascension is one of the best looking PS3 games out there. Not just in graphics, but in how much is all done in-game with the new dynamic animation engine. This makes the in-game cutscenes look much more natural and even hold up to the CG movies in terms of quality.
It's truly amazing to see how far Ascension has come in terms of attention to detail, especially since God of War 3 took the series to a new level with its presentation. On the outside it may not seem like Ascension looks much better, but after playing the game it is easy to see this more clearly with all the giant set piece moments the series always has.
Escaping from this prison may not be as cool as climbing up Mount Olympus on giant titans at first, the more you play you soon discover something quite interesting. The prison is actually build along this giant creature that has been tortured for hundreds of years and there are many interesting moments that the games has with you. Without spoiling anything for anyone who hasn't played or seen it yet, Ascension turns a simple giant hand boss fight into something you won't forget for a long time.
The demo really left a good impression for me a skeptical God of War fan, but even didn't seem as offensive as other titles in the series. There is still an extreme amount of blood and gore, but this comes from Kratos not being such a loud meathead this time. He is not shouting in rage every five seconds and is focused on just getting out and this is a good change of pace for those who may be sick of his constant screaming over the years. Hopefully this will be a sign at getting a truly likable Kratos, a job that has not been done well since the original game on PS2.
It's a bit odd that so much focus has been made on the games multiplayer, when the single player actually felt much more different and fun. Hopefully the rest of the games story can feel as fun as the opening, because God of War had just been resting on it's traditions for far to long and needed to mix it up. Ascension seems to be Santa Monica Studios taking a chance with this prequel and this demo really shows they have what it takes to put Kratos back on top.
This demo can be downloaded for free off the PlayStation Store in North America and God of War Ascension releases March 12, 2013 exclusively on the PlayStation 3.
If you played this demo as well or are just excited about Ascension be sure to share your thoughts in the comments below.