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What do you do when you've reached the end of your trilogy and killed off your main character? Well, Kratos might not be gone for good, but Sony has looked to Kratos' earlier days nonetheless. God of War: Ascension picks up Kratos' story soon after he was tricked into killing his wife and daughter. The story concerns the repercussions of Kratos breaking his blood oath to Ares because of that event. We are told in the prologue about the Furies, three sisters born at the dawn of time who enforce all blood oaths to the gods by pursuing, capturing and torturing the oath breakers.
It is in their captivity that we find Kratos at the start of the game, bound in chains and being tortured by one of the Furies, Megaera, who inadvertently breaks some of the chains binding Kratos, allowing him to escape.
There then follows another quest by Kratos to obtain the mystical artifacts he needs to defeat his antagonists. Some of the story is told in the "present", following on from Kratos' escape and some in the past, leading up to his capture.
The mechanics of the God of War games are very well established by now and they are almost all present and correct here, with only a few tweaks.
The Blades of Chaos make a return as Kratos' signature weapons, but a nice addition to the fighting system is that some enemies will drop swords, shields and the like which you can pick up to use yourself. There are also a set of mystical artifacts to collect, each one is able to assist with puzzles as well as having an impact in combat.
Red, green, blue and gold orbs emit from defeated enemies and from certain chests, filling up experience, health, magic and rage meters. Meanwhile, gorgons' eyes and phoenix feathers extend health and magic capabilities. There is a puzzle involving deflecting a beam of light and there is a fight on a round elevator. There are elements of climbing, beam balancing and rope sliding to assist in navigating the environments.
However, it's not all the same with different levels - there are some changes to the game mechanics. For example, while most larger enemies are, as ever, killed with quick time events, some enemies are dispatched by mini-games instead.
In addition, as you progress you will gain powers of the gods to charge your weapons, each one enabling a different set of moves, magic and rage attacks. There is an elemental side to these powers, Ares grants fiery attacks whereas Poseidon grants more water-related moves.
This time out, there's also a multiplayer mode for players to test their skills on. It takes the form of arena brawling, with four modes titled Team Favor of the Gods, Match of Champions, Trial of the Gods, and Capture the Flag.