God of War: Ascension Multiplayer Preview -- Spartan Smash Bros., Towering BeastsBy Rob Manuel - Posted Apr 30, 2012
The God of War team over at Sony Santa Monica once again pulls out all the stops when it comes to the God-killer, Kratos, with their newest addition to their flagship series, multiplayer. In God of War: Ascension, the team who breathed life into Kratos now lets you take up the will of one of the Gods of Olympus as you battle it out for their favor.
As we sat there in that tiny theater in Hollywood watching the game unfold in front of us, we never once imagined that eight developers working on the next epic story in the series played in real time just in the back row. Every slash, move, and bloody finishing move rang true to the single-player that we all know from the God of War series. When the lights lifted, game director Todd Papy stood there smiling, knowing that he just pulled off one of the first demonstrations of the multiplayer in action.
Before all of this, Todd points out that every God of War title seeks to be ground breaking, industry defining, and to push the limit of the hardware. Whatever he did that day, it worked as the room full of journalists fell once again under the spell of Kratos. No longer sporting the dust gray of his fallen family, his signature red markings quickly identified him as the would-be killer of Aries. As he ran into the arena, others sporting that same red marking joined him to battle a band of foes draped in blue tattoos.
As the scene played out, our Kratos look-alike maneuvered around the semi-enclosed three-tiered structure that held a cyclopean titan bound in chains. After a few quick kills, Kratos turns a pair of gears, switching the station colors from blue to red and pulling the creature ever closer to the structure. As the first objective, each team vies for complete control over the two stations, attacking and maintaining control until both reside under their power. Only then do the heavens part, and the Spirit of Olympus rocket to Earth in the form of a spear.
The titan pulls against the structure, fingers clamped tightly on either side of the field. With the honor of the Gods at hand, the game changes with one team defending the titan and the other team aiming for his digits perched on the edge of the field. Environmental hazards such as flames shooting out the floor make it nearly impossible to stay in some areas for any amount of time. Wage war on his cuticles and the titan bends forward to expose his single eye. One by one, your team grapples his eyelids by his chains, allowing you a clear and bloody shot with the spear.
As the screen went black right before the strike and the gushy sound of a giant eyeball being torn out, you could feel the crowd wince in their seats. Even in multiplayer, Ascension loses none of the brutality or violence of the single-player campaign.
Combat took elements of what we knew of the series as well as some new twists. Rolling away from blows while delivering deadly strikes seemed straight out of the pages of Kratos. Instead of your Blades of Chaos, chains leap from your hands to pull any wayward body closer to you for a couple of quick slashes. And instead of the button above the head to signify a quick death, a light halo forms around their head as their character animation bends to their knee. Their lives went in a terrible scream and a stream of blood as their lifeless bodies hit the floor.
Thorny vines wrapped around the characters waist and weapon indicated which of the Gods they worshiped. Between each match, players choose to honor one of the four main Olympian deities; Zeus, Hades, Aries, and Poseidon. Choose wisely since each God grants their own weapons as well as powers to those who favor them. In addition to the greenery, our main character showed off a spell where lightening arced from his body in all directions. Clearly, he chose to work with the big man himself, Zeus.
Todd mentioned that players could switch between Gods between the matches, but that sticking with one God would allow players to build up experience to unlock additional weapons and powers from their favorite Olympian.
Multiplayer allows players to experience the God of War series like never before. While much of the mode remains a mystery, we do know that the final game will ship with five to seven multiplayer maps with five of them being rather large. Besides what we saw, there will be other modes to follow with a horde mode being talked about. Along with Kratos not making the multiplayer game since everyone will want to be the man who killed Zeus, there are also not female combatants. As it turns out, making a female version of Kratos just isn’t very pretty.
Even before they reveal a single detail of the story campaign, the Sony Santa Monica studio comes out swinging with a multiplayer demo that’s surely to get gamers wanting to get back to Sparta very soon.