“God of War: Ascension” is a pretentious title for a video game, so I’m going to call it “God of War: Movin’ On Up!”
“God of War: Movin’ On Up!” is a confusing epic of seemingly impossible obstacles.
In this prequel, you again portray Kratos, the mythical Spartan warrior who gets angry at Ares, the god of war, after Ares tricks Kratos into killing his wife and daughter. (You’d be mad, too.)
We already know through previous “GoW” games that Kratos eventually kills Ares and Zeus and all those mythological cats.
But since this is a prequel, the action-adventure takes place before all that, around the time when Kratos killed his family.
You travel across an incredible-looking fantasyland. I mean, there are snowy mountains with rock faces carved into them, the likes of which make the “Lord of the Rings” movies seem like patty-cakes.
Caves and castles are so spectacularly ornate, they make Hearst Castle seem like a dump.
Your goal is to run across these terrains to make a personality swap — from angry warrior who thinks Ares is a cool boss, to angry warrior who realizes Ares is a jerk face.
Along the way, evil creatures try to kill you — biped elephants, pterodactyl-esque bats and other warriors of vast ugliness.
You slay those creatures by swinging Kratos’ signature weapons (knives on chains), but also by tossing traditional spears and such.
The best way to extinguish baddies is to rip them in half with your bare hands or to stick your knife in their heads and watch their brains slowly ooze out.
I’m sorry to be graphic, but the game is graphic. I’m simply informing you of what’s what.
Overall, the cinematic game play should give a great time to many hard-core (not casual) gamers.
But there are problems.
A) There’s not nearly enough voice-over narrative, so “God of War: Movin’ On Up!” feels desolate for stretches.
B) There are too many quick-time events, those moments when you press a certain button on your hand controller when the TV tells you to. At times, the game did not register my QTE buttons when I hit them.
C) The “snakes on a train” level is an un fun example of how the game play is often confusing: Should I press the “attack” button now or wait for a QTE prompt?
D) Some boss villains are stupidly hard. During such bosses as the purple dragons with punk hairdos, I was reminded of that expression, “God won’t give me anything I can’t handle,” because I kept thinking, “ ‘God of War’ keeps giving me impossible-seeming things my sanity can’t handle.”
So why am I not giving “God of War: Movin’ On Up!” a worse grade? It could partly be because I’m a fanboy of the series.
But honestly, it is a grand (flawed) spectacle of enormous proportions. Just don’t play it if you’re not ready to frequently scream, “I get it, ‘God of War,’ you’re hard and I’m stupid!”
(“God of War: Ascension” by Sony retails for $60 for PS 3 — Plays mostly fun. Looks spectacular. Very challenging. Rated “M” for blood, gore, intense violence, nudity and sexual content. Three and one-half out of four stars.)
Contact Doug Elfman at delfman@review journal.com. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.
NEW IN STORES
Yes, we thought the “Gears of War” series was all wrapped up. But there’s money in “Gears” games, so here comes one more.
“Gears of War: Judgment” (Microsoft) offers the usual third-person solo campaign and multiplayer combo.
In the campaign, you once again portray big and beefy military warriors in the future, defending locations and beating back the villainous aliens, by shooting the blood out of their faces, when you’re not jogging from one cover-system corner to another.
There are new weapons, new multiplayer modes, and old fights against ugly bad guys.
The game retails for $60 for Xbox 360. It’s rated “M” for blood, gore, intense violence and strong language.
“Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate” (Capcom) is the latest “Monster Hunter,” in which you roam forests, snowy lands and other fantasy terrains while slaying monsters.
But the monsters frequently just seem like fantasy animals, so they may look like mother jackalopes with their baby jackalopes, and you kill them with bow, swords and such to protect yourself, and to gather bone, meat and fur.
So if you’re a member of PETA, stay away. If you’re a hunter, maybe this is your thing. Or if you don’t care either way, then it’s just a slice-and-dice game.
The game retails for $60 for Wii U; $40 for 3DS. It’s rated “T” for blood, crude humor and fantasy violence.
— By DOUG ELFMAN