God of War was once Sony’s unstoppable powerhouse that helped sell consoles and push them to their limits. While God of War was revolutionary at the time it is starting to show its teeth, and it’s never more apparent than in Ascension. While the game shines in production values the quality and content are seriously lacking compared to past games, even the smaller PSP ones.
You play as the angry Spartan demi-god, Kratos, once again. This time you are playing through a prequel of the first game. Kratos is trying to free his bonds from Ares after swearing and giving up his life to defeat his enemy. He has to defeat the Furies along with his living prison Hechatonchires. The game starts out with an epic giant boss fight as usual and even a cinematic torture scene where you get to start beating down one of the Furies right off the bat. It starts out with a bang and quickly fizzles out once the combat system is introduced to you. Honestly, it’s nearly ruined. The combat engine has been tweaked so much that it just doesn’t flow like it used to. It’s now based on a momentum system where the more you hit without getting hit the more damage you do. I honestly hate this as it sets you back in difficult areas. What’s more, is that the magic system has been screwed with too much and the same goes for the upgrade system.
I like the idea of having four different blades with elemental abilities but they don’t mean anything. Should my fire blades be strong against an ice enemy? Doesn’t seem so. Each sword is supposed to have one magic attack by they are acquired at certain upgrade levels which I really hate. The rage meter has been turned into a bar that slowly fills as you hit enemies. If you get hit it rapidly drops and your damage dealt is reduced along with your more powerful moves. The game is hard enough as it is with enemies wailing on you so your best moves are locked away until you can get enough hits in to “acquire them” temporarily. A horrible system that needs to go away in the next game.
With that said, Ascension has the most cerebral puzzles in any God of War game which is a nice change. I had to actually think about nearly every puzzle and some were completely stumped. Some new passive abilities are one where you can decay and heal objects. Another ability allows you to duplicate yourself to solve puzzles and do extra damage in combat. These are probably the only thing in the game that show an overall evolution.
With that aside let’s talk about bosses. God of War is famous for its epic and memorable bosses that are larger than life. Ascension has the weakest bosses in the entire series. First off, there’s a lack of them. Most are small and about the size of regular enemies. The only exceptions are the beginning boss and the end boss. That’s nearly 7 hours in between with weak fights. The overall flow of the game just feels messed up and broken. I kept looking forward to amazing boss fights that blew me away, but I just kept getting regular fight after fight. This really brings the God of War experience down quite a bit. Ascension just feels like a basic bare-bones God of War without all the memorable moments.
Like I mentioned before, the production values are at least here. Ascension is probably one of the top five best-looking PS3 games or even games of this generation of consoles. The game just looks freaking fantastic and will blow you away. However, you start to not care if there aren’t those amazing boss fights and fast fluid combat. Ascension is a step in the wrong direction for the series showing that tweaking something to the point of nearly breaking it isn’t the answer to innovation. Should Ascension have never been made at all? We certainly wouldn’t miss it if it completely disappeared, but what’s here is a decent game with some experimental multiplayer that will last for a few weeks and you will move on to the next game.
There are hundreds of thousands of games out there, but only a few hundred are considered masterpieces or classics. These are my personal top ten. I know it’s to everyone’s taste, but you can’t deny that these games are great. I have played hundreds in my 20 years of gaming, I have played through three generations of consoles, so at least I can speak on experience. I will try to be non-biased and even address some flaws in the games I pick because I have no problem with that. Flaws are flaws, and not a single game is perfect. There are more that are my favorite, but I would have to make a top 50 list.
This was one of the first games I had ever played at 2 years old. It helped introduce me to the gaming world and I just fell in love with the fast speed and intense gameplay. StH2 had some of the best level designs out of any game in the series and one of the best soundtracks to date. I remember never being able to actually beat the game because it was too long and too hard. I could never get past the factory level with all the grey orbs floating around Robotnik. I had to beat it many years later using an emulator and quick saves, but I still enjoyed it every time I played the game. I think I actually ruined my cartridge from taking it in and out of the Genesis so many times.
In fact, I even remember my first Genesis for Christmas of 1992. The copy of StH2 it came with kept freezing up in the system, so my mom took it back to Circuit City to exchange it. I remember throwing a tantrum because no matter how many times I blew the cartridge it kept freezing after pressing Start. The series has fallen off the deep end in the past ten years, but nothing can ruin the memories of this classic gem.
9. Gran Turismo
This game changed everything for me when it came to cars. My very first racing simulator actually made me think about every turn and what car I had to choose. I always played arcade racers before because consoles didn’t really have the power yet for realistic physics and graphics. I actually learned some things from this game like how to recognize cars on the street, and basic ways on how cars operate. I was sitting in front of my TV at 8 years old tuning my car and adjusting things like camber angle, toe angle, stabilizers, sway bars and gear ratios like a champ. I then followed the series all the way to Gran Turismo 5 today and have witnessed one of the greatest evolutions in gaming history.
I remember the skepticism from PC gamers because of the greatness and expectations from System Shock 2. I didn’t have a PC capable of playing any major games throughout my early gaming years. My computer didn’t even run Flash very well, so I solely relied on consoles. BioShock’s narrative and atmosphere made a huge impact on me and the gaming industry as a whole. The first time seeing a Big Daddy and Little Sister was just shocking. You felt trapped in this underwater utopia, but you were also memorized by how it could have been accomplished in such an early time period. The game just worked so well and felt different from the standard military shooters at the time. BioShock 2 was too similar to the first game and just didn’t make the same impact.
The second game was so much better than the first because it created a whole new world and a much more likable character Ezio is one of gaming’s most familiar faces and the game itself was revolutionary for its time. A huge open world in a historically accurate Rome, Italy was just unheard of. There was so much attention to detail that you had to sit back and just take it all in. The characters were likable, and the story was memorable with a deep and tangled political plot. The game was also violent with a fighting system never before seen in an action/adventure game. This game was almost perfect in so many ways that the rest of the games have yet to capture.
6. Syphon Filter
Syphon Filter was criticized a lot for ripping off Metal Gear Solid plot-wise. The game had unique characters, a memorable plot, and some of the best-level designs ever seen for its time. The stealth was perfectly executed and had some memorable moments. I have played this game numerous times and was actually my first-ever third-person shooter. I remember how confusing the game was because I didn’t understand how shooters worked. I was so used to platformers, adventure games, and puzzle games. After playing this game I felt like I was part of the grown-up crowd. The other two games on the PS1 were just as good but not as memorable as the first game. This has grown to be one of my favorite games of all time just due to the wonderful memories I have had.
I used to beat the game once a week using the one-shot-kill code then again without it. I memorized every enemy, and how to get every kill without being seen in stealth missions. I even went as far as replaying certain dialog scenes because they were just that cool. Syphon Filter is a mostly underappreciated game because of the lack of releases the series has seen. The last game came out three years ago on the PSP, but thankfully Syphon Filter 4 was announced for PS3.
5. God of War
God of War changed my way of thinking about action/adventure games. I remember driving to K-Mart to buy my copy after reading reviews and hearing the game blow up on forums. I didn’t really expect much other than Greek mythology-themed Devil May Cry. I was dead wrong. The game had one of the most thrilling and epic combat systems ever created. I never really even knew what quick time events were until God of War made them cool and did them right. It added a whole new layer of depth and connection to the combat that has never really been done before. The huge boss fights, gorgeous (at the time) visuals, and unabashed nudity and sexuality that few games dare tread. God of War still impresses to this day and with each iteration in the now 5 game series. Kratos is also one of the most memorable and recognizable characters to date. Make sure to pick up God of War Collection and God of War Origins Collection if you missed out on those four awesome games while waiting for God of War: Ascension.
Gears of War changed my mind on shooters the way God of War did for action games. The gameplay was just so different from your standard shooter. It was heavy-hitting, atmospheric, and featured some of the most memorable characters and stories to date. For a futuristic military shooter that’s a huge achievement. The weapons were memorable, it was perfectly balanced, and everything had a dark crunchy hit to it. The game was nearly perfect, and the graphics were out of this world at the time. I remember this being the first next-generation game I ever played when I got my first Xbox 360 for Christmas of 2006. Each of the three games in the series is amazing, but nothing compares to when I first played the first game. It wowed me like no other, and Gears of War is one of the few games I have played multiple times.
Sure this series along with Rock Band single-handedly killed the band instrument rhythm genre, but nothing compares to the first Guitar Hero. This game is the reason why I currently own and play the guitar today. Pulling off complicated riffs, solos, and chords with the then high-tech guitar controller was like magic. I spent dozen upon dozens of hours replaying songs and getting high scores. Sure it cost a lot, but it was well worth it to me. While the songs weren’t originals they were masterfully re-created and the guitar controller responded perfectly. The games later in the series lost sight of the value of mastering songs and just start pumping them out uncontrollably after GH3. This game redefined the rhythm genre and took the entire world by storm. Most people nowadays never played the first game, and they were missing out on a lot.
This was the first game I spent over 100 hours on. The world was so rich and fantastic that I felt like I was playing in one of my favorite fantasy novels. The lore, characters, quests, and loot were just so addictive and engrossing I couldn’t put it down. I remember one play session going on for 12 hours when no other game has kept me in front of the TV for that long. The expansion pack was even more amazing, and the graphics blew me away. Of course, there were a lot of technical problems, and the PC version was better, but I sure had a ton of fun with this game. Skyrimis just as good, but it didn’t wow me like Oblivion did because this was my first Elder Scrolls game. To be honest I picked this up for $60 expecting not to like it much and I was dead wrong. Anyone who has just played Skyrim needs to go back and play this. It revolutionized the action RPG genre in my eyes and a lot of games have tried to copy it to this day.
Yes, I am talking about the 1992 Sega Genesis/Arcade classic. This is my favorite video game series of all time and this is because it was the first video game I ever played. I remember my cousin babysitting me and seeing him control these characters on-screen at 2 years old. I remember seeing him pull off Scorpion’s mask and burn a character. It was something I saw before, and soon enough I was mastering the controls and beating him at 2 years old. I never knew how to pull off a fatality until years later when the internet became more mainstream, but I loved beating this game constantly. To date, I own almost every game in the series on several different platforms and have pre-ordered every recent game since 2004’s Deception. I don’t think I have played a game more than Mortal Kombat, but I still enjoy Japanese fighters. I find Mortal Kombat more accessible with more interesting characters and a story because they aren’t cliché and generic like most Japanese fighters tend to feel. There’s a whole giant story behind each and every character and they are all unique.
There is no such thing as a perfect game. There never will be and that’s just the cruel hard truth. Very few games come close and that’s why I have only ever given one 10 (Gears of War). If I could go back and give games a 10 what would they be? Some almost felt perfect, but there was something there that didn’t quite make it that high. Games that get 9.5’s are usually amazing and probably the best games out, but sometimes games will sit as perfect to you whether they are technically or not. This is part 1 of 2 because there are just too many to list in one sitting. These are the game I have reviewed and sit as 10’s in my heart (in no particular order of course!)
This game pretty much changed narratives from here on out because BioShock really blew me away. Not only was the pacing perfect, but the story was dark and terrible and something imagined in nightmares. It wasn’t monsters popping up out of the closet, zombies shambling towards you, but it took humanity’s imperfections and let them loose. The gameplay had an array of amazing weapons to use, the EVE powers were great to use, and who can forget seeing a Big Daddy and Little Sister for the first time? That demo really blew me away and it was one of the few games that I could play over and over and never get bored. At the time the graphics were fantastic and helped you feel claustrophobic in that underwater utopia. With BioShock Infinite coming along I hope it hits me the same way.
Who can deny the fact that this was the true return of Mortal Kombat? The game was everything fans wanted with the best characters, excellent graphics, a simpler fight system, and the inclusion of great content for single-player users. The X-Ray moves were shocking, plus the return of superb and original Fatalities that have been lacking since MK: Deception. The game was silky smooth in the controls department, plus the addition of four DLC characters and a slew of classic costumes. I truly felt like a kid again and was basking in the feeling that MK was back and felt just like it did 20 years ago.
A puzzle game usually doesn’t get as much recognition as Portal has gotten. It has become a household name thanks to one thing that the game is named after. Portal 2 completely turns the game into a full-fledged adventure through different areas complete with scripted cinematic events. What makes Portal 2 as great as it is the voice acting and characters. Never have characters been so memorable, and being game staples is hard to become. The pacing was perfect, there was just enough content not to overwhelm you, but to make you feel like it was new and fresh. The puzzles were laid out perfectly and gave you that “AHA!” moment when you finally solved it. I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed playing through the entire game and laughing through the entire thing. Portal 2 will always sit with me as one of the best games ever made.
Red Dead Redemption
Not only is Rockstar the best at making worlds you can totally get lost in, but RDR also made you believe it was real. When I played through RDR I felt like the game came to life with such accurate landscape, wonderfully played out characters, and some great missions that make you feel like they were different every time. The atmosphere was rich and bursting at the seams with depth. I never played a game where I felt like a real cowboy and felt like I was doing cowboy things that made a difference. RDR will always sit as a game that many should be based on especially open-world games because this one was perfect to me.
God of War III
God of War is the father of a lot of things. Cinematic action/adventures, quick-time events, and huge giant bosses in said action/adventures, but nothing could prepare me for GoW3. The graphics were way ahead of their time (even in this generation) and the pacing and story were just perfect. The combat was so smooth and just ran like butter across the screen. The powers you held, the weapons you got, and the puzzles were so fun that you actually savored each moment in the game. Sure, the first game made me think differently about how games should be made, but GoW3 set the standard and still is today. GoW was the first game series I could play over and over again and never get bored, and GoW3 is probably on top of all of them.
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
If I had to pick my favorite game of all time this would be it. I had never spent so many hours on a game as I did in Oblivion. It set a whole new standard for RPGs. The interaction with characters, the looting, the lore, the dungeons were all just fascinating and mesmerizing. Over 100 of just minute detail that I had never seen in any game. All the books could be read, random quests from people who actually mattered because the effects would impact you later on. Being able to pick plants, the number of swords, magic, spells, tomes, shields, armor, and riding horses? It was truly a fantasy book come to life and it had never been done before in that much detail. I actually would get lost for over a dozen hours without putting the controller down and no other game could make me do that. Oblivion sits in my heart as something more than just a game, but a world I could escape in and forget about all my problems.
Assassin’s Creed II
AC2 really hit home with me because of the grand scale of the characters, story, and the just sheer amount of content in the game. I really got sucked into this world that beautifully recreated, and for once I felt like I was playing a piece of history. No other game has been capable of that, but what got me more than anything was how free I felt. Running from rooftop to rooftop and seeing and hearing shingles shift under my feet, climbing grand buildings, unfolding a deep mysterious plot, and using awesome kill moves is something of most kids’ dreams (if you’re a psycho kid like I was). The graphics were unbeatable at the time, and it still holds up as the pinnacle for free world action/adventures to this day.
Batman: Arkham Asylum
Arkham Asylum set the standard for superhero games and is declared as the best one ever made. Not only was the combat silky smooth, and the fact that you were Batman, you actually did everything you could in the comics! It was unbelievable using the detective mode, swinging around with your bat claw, and scaring the daylights out of enemies by tossing a Batarang at them. How cool is that?! The excellent voice acting and all the characters from the comic helped make it the greatest superhero game ever made. EVER.
When I found out Bethesda was making Fallout 3 I knew I would be sucked into another amazing world for over a hundred hours, and I was right. Fallout 3 sucked me in just like Oblivion with tons of memorable characters, a great overarching story, but the setting and environment was the main character and drew me in. I actually felt lonely and scared walking The Capital Wasteland, and no other game made me feel that way before. I looted every corner with caution because the game felt so close to home, and you could wonder about this giant apocalypse. I really felt a sigh of relief when I found a new town and almost dreaded going back out in the wasteland alone. What kind of game can you think of that made you feel that way? Probably none.
God of War III defines the genre that tells us there are no limits or boundaries and it really shows here. With superb combat, epic boss fights, and gruesome gore that would make even the strongest squirm you have to love this game. It perfects the series and really shows what the next-generation is all about.
Graphics aren’t the most important part of a game, but they are essential in helping deliver every aspect. A lot of games try to push consoles to their limits with higher resolutions, more detailed textures, better lighting, physics, and even just about every other thing that games need to do to look pretty.
What sets God of War apart from other games besides its gruesome violence, and epic boss fights? Its graphics. It pushes shaders, memory, and makes processors sweat with its luscious huge vistas, multi-screened bosses, and stunning detail in every character. In 1080p on an HDTV, nothing can hold a candle to anything graphics wise.
While graphics may not be essential, the artistic side can set them apart and make them individual and unique. The artistry of graphics is very important in defining a series or making it instantly recognizable.
Kirby’s Epic Yarn
Yarn. Who would have thunk? Using yarn to create the world is probably one of the most original art designs I have ever seen. Why does such a cutesy art design beat out other games that have tons of research behind them? Because it’s original. That’s the keyword. The game makes you feel just as fuzzy inside as the characters look.
Red Dead may not have strange alien characters, but the voice acting is so authentic that you really get attached to these characters without awkward moments, or sometimes scripted sounded segments. The voice actors Rockstar chose really sound like these characters and put so much passion and effort into them that the whole game really just sounds like a movie.
Sound design is probably the most important thing next to the gameplay. Without some sound, there’s not really a game, and the best sound design makes things sound authentic for the universe it’s in and makes the sound convincing, and usually, it’ll pack a good punch, sound epic, or just subtle details in sound helps.
How can a war game have the best sound design? The first Bad Company truly made a game sound amazing with realistic weapon sounds, epic explosions, and differential sounds such as shooting in a building sounds different than outside and the echo traveled when walking through a door. That is the kind of detail that most games don’t make. The sequel follows suit with more detail in this department, and there’s nothing that can trump the epic explosions and sounds of gunfire.
What makes music in a game good? Something that fits the style of game, setting, and something that isn’t repetitive, annoying, or something we’ve heard in a million other games. Music is probably one of the most important parts of the game but easily overlooked by most gamers.
Bayonetta’s music isn’t only angelic and beautiful, but it’s so catchy that you just want to hear it again and again, and it really fits Bayonetta and her style. You just get goosebumps when seeing Bayonetta fight with style on the screen along with this angelic music. While there isn’t a huge variety what does play is amazing and is memorable.
God of War is just one of those games no one gets tired of, and each game brings new and excellent ideas to the table, and this has to do with the fact that each game has a new director. Ghost of Sparta borrows a lot of what God of War III did, tweaks it, and adds things to it as well. I honestly think Sparta is the best example of how to do a portable game well, and bring a console experience in without cramping the game’s style. Sparta is probably the most complete console copy on a portable to date, and there is nothing like it out there.
The game is set between the first two and is a side story of Kratos following a haunting vision. The vision of finding his long-lost brother, Deimos, and trying to cleanse yet another horrible memory. Along the way, you battle through Atlantis and other new locales for the game, but the style isn’t anything new. The locales in the game are pretty dark this time around and really focus on the whole dark aspect of the game.
The core of God of War is the combat and Ghost of Sparta trumps Chains of Olympus by a mile. Borrowing the recharging meter from III you get to infuse your blades with Thera’s Bane and this adds a whole new layer to the combat. Holding down R allows you to set your blades on fire and make them more powerful, but you have to time it and use it wisely. This is also used for breaking down armor on foes that can’t be hit normally, environmental puzzles, etc. Thera’s Bane is really fun to use, and there’s a lot of complexity that goes along with it that adds another layer of depth to the standard combat in the series.
There are new magical items, but they’re not as exciting as one might expect. I never really used them as often as I’d liked to have, but they come in handy in the later levels. The game also borrows the Hyperion Charge that shoulder rams enemies to the ground and lets you wail on them. I also never really found much use for it, and never used it through the entire game except when introduced, so it feels like there’s some filler in here, but it’s great for people who have a different play style. A whole new weapon is introduced and this is the Arms of Sparta. These are Kratos’ spear and shield and it’s good for close-up combat, and using the spear for far-off enemies, but it’s not a favorite and is no good and mid to long-range and doesn’t have the reach of the Blades. I never really used this except for when it was required during puzzles or exploration.
Sparta has a really good story behind it, and it doesn’t disappoint with its epic interactive story elements such as one scene where he fights his own past in a brutal way you would expect in a God of War game. The game also opens up with a classic gigantic boss battle with a Scylla, but it’s not as memorable as the console games or even Chains of Olympus. Speaking of bosses that game lacks hardly any with only maybe four in this six-hour adventure. The ending boss is probably one of the best in the series with an awesome co-op battle that has never been down before. The game’s ending is well worth it, and you’ll be pleased with how the whole story rolls out.
In technical terms this is the best-looking PSP or handheld game, ever made hands down. I don’t think any other developer can make a PSP game look better than one of the best-looking PS2 games ever made. Yes, it looks better than God of War II and it’s just full of lush detail and is bursting at the seams with effects. If you thought Chains of Olympus looked amazing this trumps it by a long shot. Water drips off every ledge, the backgrounds are fully animated, and the game has a high poly count and highly detailed textures with even bump mapping! It’s just something to truly behold, and I doubt we’ll see another PSP game look this good. Of course, the game also comes with frame rate issues and never really goes above 30 FPS and sometimes drops down below 15, but that could just be my old PSP hardware.
The game also has its usual treasures, but adds the Temple of Zeus and lets you unlock videos, costumes, art, etc. by spending orbs you earn during the Challenge of the Gods. You can also create your challenges as well, and this lets you keep playing this epic game without having to tread through the story again (which I know I will be doing again).
Other than that though the game is lacking something. It’s not as well-paced as other games in the series, and the lack of bosses hampers the experience a bit. The game mainly focuses on balanced combat in which you get a variety of foes and must take each battle in a different way since some foes are weak to something and some aren’t. As well as focusing on exploration, and there really aren’t any puzzles to think of except very simple ones we’ve seen a dozen times in the series. The game is also just too straightforward and feels more repetitive than the other games, and that’s a bit disappointing considering the reputation of the series. However, the game is amazing, and I am not quite sick of seeing what Kratos has in store for us. Is this the last God of War game since III marked the end of the trilogy? Probably not since this is Sony’s major staple for its consoles. Ghost of Sparta achieves many things and will become an all-time classic.