God of War: Ascension - the Digital Foundry verdict
All in all, it's fair to say we've had more fun with Sony Santa Monica's multiplayer mode than its solo campaign - and for a number of reasons. Chief among them is that, perhaps inevitably, after five outings with Kratos these giant set-piece moments simply don't quite scratch the itch that they once did. Ultimately, we were keen to see the game's combat mechanics freed from its cinematic ambition which so often dominates the solo experience and this new competitive angle brings that out fully.
"The law of diminishing returns kicks in on the single-player game... but this doesn't detract from the scale of the technical achievement on offer throughout the entire Ascension package"
While there's a definite sense that the law of diminishing returns is kicking in on the single-player game from a conceptual standpoint, this doesn't detract from the scale of the technical achievement on offer throughout the entire package. For anyone looking to see what the PS3 hardware is truly capable of when pushed to its limits, this ranks as one of the most exceptional technical achievements of the current-gen era, convincingly up to the standards set by the likes of Uncharted 3 or Halo 4.
Side by side with God of War 3, the visuals improvements are vast - we're looking at substantial enhancements to lighting, physics, animation, and a radical overhaul to the effects pipeline, all of which serve to frame some spectacular action. The battles with titans such as Hecatonchires are stand-out, making for some of better roller-coaster rides we've seen from the series thus far. The only issue holding the experience back from true cinematic polish in our minds is the sound design, which has effects regularly losing sync during cut-scenes. It's strange to see such an oversight given the quality of the visual component, and this will hopefully be nipped by a future patch.
So, years from now, will we be looking back at God of War: Ascension as one of those key video games that defied the technical limitations of the host platform? From a technological standpoint, while its enhancements are legion, the game never astonishes in the same way that God of War 3 did in its opening levels. That perfect, brilliant melding of ambitious concept and technological execution and the sense that we were seeing something truly new and exciting just isn't quite there. But in the here and now, as a standard bearer for the state-of-the-art in PS3 tech, Ascension takes some beating.