Thursday, 10 January 2013 00:53
When news breaks that a traditionally single player series will introduce multiplayer in an upcoming instalment, the announcement is usually met with horror from the gaming public. The common phrase “tacked-on multiplayer” often gets thrown around. Said multiplayer modes are deemed unworthy before they even get into the public’s hands.
“God of War: Ascension” is the most recent offender, seeing as its beta was recently made available on PSN. The “God of War” franchise has always been a favorite of mine, and when I caught wind of the added multiplayer, my reaction was puzzlement. What’s the point? Do the folks at Sony and Santa Monica Studios believe that this will be a major selling point for the franchise that has thrived as a single player experience since 2005? Could “God of War: Ascension” rival the online offerings of, say, “Call of Duty”? I’d use the cliche “stranger things have happened” here, but in this case I think “God of War: Ascension” overtaking “Black Ops 2” would actually be the strangest thing I’ve ever witnessed in modern video games.
I spent some time with the beta, and it reaffirmed my worry of the dreaded, “tacked-on multiplayer.” I don’t want to attempt to bury a portion of a video game before the final version sees the light of day, but this reaches beyond polish and combat balance. From the minimal offerings of the beta, I just didn’t think it was very fun, let alone addicting, which are two essential aspects of good multiplayer.
Your nameless character finds himself in the Hall of the Gods. There, you must choose allegiance to a god. The beta allows you to choose Ares, the God of War, or Zeus, King of the Gods. Two that are locked out are Poseidon and Hades. Your allegiance grants you different combat abilities. Siding with Zeus provides your character with stronger magic abilities, while Ares makes your warrior a more powerful brawler.
From there, you can customize your character with different gear, weaponry and accessories, all of which grant character bonuses that aid in combat. Different stat categories include health, elemental power, elemental resistance, physical resistance, physical power and cooldown. Gear also changes the appearance of your character.
From there, you’re dropped in either a FFA battle or a team battle. It plays much like a 3D “Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale.” Controls are nearly identical to the “God of War” gameplay we all know. There’s a quick attack, a heavy attack, special abilities that recharge with time, and a grab move. Health is a basic meter that drains when attacked.
The map is a circular battle arena that throws in some environmental effects during the match. In a map inspired by Hercules’ arena found in “God of War 3,” Hercules can be seen with his gauntlets, cheering on the combatants. He’ll randomly jump down to the arena floor, creating a shockwave that knocks down the players.
The combat feels imprecise and altogether elementary. Success comes from strength of powers and weapons, with a small emphasis on timing and special usage. There just isn’t anything compelling about it. it’s a bare-bones battle system that copies the tropes found in virtually every multiplayer gaming experience. Performance grants experience that increases the level of your character, unlocking gear. It’s a tired recipe, and inserting the “God of War” name into it doesn’t make it any more groundbreaking.
Of course, don’t let my dislike for the “God of War: Ascension” multiplayer beta sway you from playing the game when it comes out in March. The series is still special to me, and I’m very much looking forward to playing through its story. Unless it undergoes drastic changes, I’ll be treating it like every other “tacked-on” multiplayer mode: I’ll ignore it.