God of War: Ascension Multiplayer hands-on
Sony's booth was jumping like crazy at this year's PAX Prime event. The company only took up a small corner with their booth, but packed it full with plenty of games, including a theater containing The Last of Us and various PS Vita games. But perhaps one of the biggest draws with the crowd was the playable God of War: Ascension, featuring a playable single player stage, as well as eight player multiplayer match-ups. We had the opportunity to take on our fellow Spartans in bloody combat, and despite being overwhelming at times, it was bloody good fun.
So here's the set-up. You've got a multi-tiered stage, with various platforms to jump up on or down to, and weapons scattered throughout, though your character comes armed with default blades similar to that of Kratos'. Meanwhile, in the distance, you have a huge one-eyed freak making a nuisance of things, chained up and yelling throughout the match. Your goal in this mode is to dispatch of your opponents and activate three points on the map, in which a powerful spear will appear on the platform. Whoever wields the spear will then be able to finish off the beast, therefore winning the match.
Now, before you go running into action, God of War: Ascension's multiplayer does provide a bit of customization, as you can choose from various classes and sizes, finding the armor that's a right fit for you. From there, you can slide into the combat field by riding down on a rope, and drawing your weapons for battle.
The combat is fierce, just as it was in the other God of War games, but there's a bit of strategy when it comes to surviving Ascension's multiplayer. First off, your opponents can strike just as hard as you can, so every hit that you throw at them isn't guaranteed to be a success. Secondly, defense is highly important, so you'll want to keep a finger on the block button, then successfully strike when your opponent has thrown their last hit at you. You can also grapple them and drag them closer for a quick stab attack, throwing them off. (Mind you, this can also be blocked, so be prepared for an incoming strike if it doesn't take.)
The action is 4-on-4 (at the moment), and the goal is to activate the three points and kill the monsters. However, it helps if you're able to wipe out a few of your opponents along the way, either through regular combat or with the help of one of the traps scattered throughout the stage, such as a spiked floor that leads to immediate impalement. It's great seeing all this in action, though at times it can be a little overwhelming, especially if you find yourself in a 3-versus-1 scenario with the other team. We've never been killed so quickly.
Activating the three points can take as long as several minutes, or maybe shorter, depending on the skill of your team. Once you do so and reach the spear, you conclude the match with a victorious animation, where you rip the beast's jaw in half with your spear, before launching towards its eyeball and gushing it like a waterfall. You're then notified whether your team is victorious or defeated, followed by statistics that show how many kills you have -- and how many times you fell to enemy hands.
The graphics are terrific -- not as detailed as some of God of War's single player stuff, but still detailed enough you can see what's happening, and who's coming at you. The multiplayer also runs very smoothly, with very few frame rate issues from our match-ups. Granted, we have yet to see it in action on the PlayStation Network, but Sony will be launching an online beta for the game soon, so we'll get to that soon enough.
Though we didn't expect God of War to have multiplayer ever added into one of its entries, we have to say that Todd Papy and his team at Sony Santa Monica have pulled it off, and we're now eager to see what other maps will be included in the final game. We'll find out soon enough when the game arrives next March.