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Hands-On with God of War: Ascension’s Multiplayer Beta

Every time a single-player franchise decides to include a multiplayer mode, fans get skeptical whether or not it is worth to have multiplayer because historically this has meant a lower level of quality in single-player. Uncharted and Mass Effect great examples of franchises that were able to silence the critics when it came to delivering great multiplayer modes along with a high quality campaign as has become expected from those developers. God of War is the next franchise attempting to do that very same thing with a new multiplayer mode in the upcoming new sequel, Ascension. Fortunately, Sony Santa Monica released a multiplayer beta for the game to those who participated in the Rise of the Warrior program and will eventually be available to Playstation Plus on January 8th. This beta will be a great opportunity to see how God of War multiplayer plays like and surprisingly, it is not as bad as I thought it would be so far.

Once you boot up the beta, you have to play through a brief tutorial that explains the mechanics of multiplayer. If you’re familiar with God of War’s controls,  getting accustomed to them is like riding a bike, but when it comes to having human opponents with similar move sets rather than big gigantic titans, you will find yourself changing up your playstyle a bit. After you’ve finished with the tutorial, you’re asked to pick which Greek god you will align with. For this beta, only two of the four are ready to be chosen, which is either Ares or Zeus. Picking Ares makes you more melee focused while picking Zeus allows you to have better stats in the magic department.

Besides the tutorial, there are only two modes playable in this God of War: Ascension multiplayer beta, which are Favor of the Gods and its team variant. Favor of the Gods, in other words, is basically this game’s version of deathmatch where you or a team have to reach a point limit of 8,000 by killing the opposition, racking up point awards similar to most competitive multiplayer games today, and opening treasure chests for more points. Two playable modes also means there are there are only two maps in this beta, one for each mode. The Favor of the Gods map takes place at Hercules’ arena from God of War III and the map for team games is at the Desert of Lost Souls with a big cyclops hanging out waiting to smash players if they attack it. Both maps offer stage kills; spiked walls at Hercules’ arena is an example of this. The map for team deathmatch games has spike/fire traps that may be activated by either team, however these traps can also cause team kills if activated at the wrong time, so players have to be careful with those. As mentioned earlier, the cyclops can kill players but also can be killed by the spear of Olympus. The team that is able to grab this specific spear and get the cyclops stunned for a bit can win the match instantly by killing it. The only thing I dislike about the spear of Olympus is the cutscene of its appearance. In every match, the gods will intervene and the cutscene will play causing a pause in the action. This can disrupt the overall flow of the match and even mess up your combo timing if you’re in the middle of one.

God of War’s core gameplay in a multiplayer setting is not as bad as you may think. You can mess around with two weapon styles in this beta: sword or a hammer. Using a sword can deal quick, multi-hit strikes, but you dish out more damage using a hammer. Stronger hammer attacks can also cause earthquakes surrounding the player as well. The grapple mechanics from the single-player games are also used in multiplayer to grab opponents from the air to deal more damage. Other than the main weapons, there are sub-weapons randomly spawned on the map varying from a javelin that can be thrown to Hermes’ boots to stomp on the opposition. Once a player is able to get his opponent’s health to zero, he is stunned and can be killed normally or brutally like how executions work in the Gears of War games. These brutal kills range from curb stomping, hammering someone’s head to death, etc.

The action can get a little too chaotic and hectic at times when too many players are in the screen trying to each other apart. Plus, the balancing between lower and higher level players is nowhere to be seen as lower level players will likely get decimated by higher level players with leveled up equipment. Despite that issue, leveling up in multiplayer is pretty quick and you’ll be able to match up with the competition around the level 5 range. The level up progression system also earns you tokens to spend on items, relics, and magic abilities. The items and relics are God of War’s version of perks as they can enhance specific stats for a temporary amount of time. There is even a version of Call of Duty’s Martyrdom in God of War: Ascension where a player’s body can blow up after being killed.

Despite some small issues, God of War Ascension’s multiplayer is surprisingly fun to play with in it's current limited beta form. The fundamentals are there with the core combat being intact and deep customization options seen in most of today’s games with competitive multiplayer. If Sony Santa Monica can iron out some of the balance problems, matchmaking having lower level players having their own room and letting the higher level players duke it out against each other, and other bugs like game crashes, then they will be able to silence both critics and skeptics alike once the final game comes on March 12, 2013. Now that some of the worries with the multiplayer are out of the way, let’s hope the single-player campaign lives up the franchise’s standards, which you can try out if you bought the movie Total Recall on blu-ray. If you’re still skeptical with the God of War franchise having multiplayer, it would be worth your time to give this beta a shot if you’re able to grab a code now or have Playstation Plus on January 8th.


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