In our God of War: Ascension review, we said, "Despite samey combat and a story low in scope, Ascension remains a visually stunning reminder of PS3's pulling power, its sprinkling of incredible set pieces and time-refined combat laid on top of a familiar - too familiar - blueprint.
"The QTE's, the gore, the rampant nudity, it doesn't move the franchise forward in any meaningful way (the robust if uninspiring multiplayer mode definitely fails in its remit where that's concerned), but it's a new God of War, and, even at three-quarter power, that makes it worth seeking out," we added.
Elsewhere, the game has received mostly positive reviews, with similar criticisms of a solid single-player mode backed by functional - if uninspiring - multiplayer play.
Here's a round-up of verdicts:
- GamesRadar: 3.5/5 - "God of War: Ascension is confident, executing the franchise tropes flawlessly with an amount of self-awareness not often seen in gaming. It knows it's good--it knows it doesn't have to try hard to be good--but it struggles to be anything more than that. While it's worth experiencing for the massive battles, remarkable cinematic moments, and strong combat, it doesn't feel like a necessary chapter in the God of War franchise."
- Official PlayStation Magazine UK: 8/10 - "God Of War: Ascension is a fantastic game, just one that quite can't compete with the true greats of the genre, like Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow. Whether multiplayer was a distraction that led to standards ever so slightly slipping in single-player is debatable. With such a strong combat system and beautiful looks, Kratos' prequel could have eclipsed them all with a handful of key tweaks. Not quite the murdery meteoric rise we were hoping for then, but certainly not a fall from grace either."
- Edge: 7/10 - "While this series' singleplayer template is showing its age, there's plenty in Ascension's multiplayer that deserves to survive the transition to PS4."
- Destructoid: 9/10 - "God of War has never looked or played better than this. Kratos has never been as deep or interesting as this. They've set the bar so high that I have no idea how they'll be able to follow this one up. Sony Santa Monica should be proud. Series fans should be proud."
- Gamespot: 8/10 - "The single-player is where you should spend your time. No, it doesn't quite reach the audacious and rage-filled moments of God of War: Ascension's predecessors, nor does it move the series forward in any way, but it's skilfully put together, and wonderfully satisfying to play."
- Polygon: 7/10 - "God of War: Ascension is a pair of halves that don't add up to a cohesive whole. The multiplayer succeeds at making God of War work as a cooperative and competitive experience, but doesn't have the depth to exist on its own. The campaign feels derivative and lacking the forceful confidence that made the series a showpiece for cinematic character-driven action games. When Ascension works, it still does what no other game save God of War manages to achieve. But it lacks the vision and force to stand up to the rest of the series."
- Videogamer: 7/10 - "The campaign is simultaneously more of the same and less of the same, being marginally shorter than God of War III's story, yet lacking that game's ferocity and pacing. It arguably has the lowest 'wow' factor of the four mainline games to date, and in a series that trades on spectacle, that's not the best sign. Yet the multiplayer component is as fresh as the single-player is familiar."
- PlayStation LifeStyle: 8.5/10 - In the end, single-player is still very much worth the price of admission even without multiplayer, if only for the combat and puzzles."
- TheSixAxis: 8/10 - "It's a fun ride - there are some lovely set pieces - but it's largely a ride to a conclusion we already know and without enough focus to make it an unforgettable experience. Kratos' backstory is fleshed out, his motivations explained and the rest of the series built on solid foundations, but is this really an essential slice of the story?"
- The Telegraph: 4/5 - "Ascension is a highly-accomplished if not completely fulfilling rampage. There's a base level of quality that hasn't slipped from the excellent God Of War III - this looks even better, puts things onscreen that are, somehow, even bigger. But this technical muscle isn't given the best stage on which to oil and flex, thanks to a story that simply idles the roaring engine of death that is Kratos, and keeps the series ticking over until the next, more substantial step forward."