Kratos' various kill animations can be brutal, but given the quick time events that are required to pull some of them off, you'll sometimes wish you could just watch the animation without having to keep an eye out for quick time prompts. These are typically reserved for the more powerful monsters, though, so you can always sit back and enjoy Kratos tearing the head off the weaker foes, ripping the torso from the legs, or impaling them with their own weapon.
Quick time events are part and parcel for God of War, and Ascension is no exception. From the first encounter with the Hecatonchires to various lesser enemies, you'll be expected to pay attention during cinematic sequences from beginning to end, with no indication of when to expect a QTE. Not knowing whether a given animation or cinematic is going to require input is one of the more frustrating aspects of Ascension. Fortunately, most times that you fail an unexpected QTE, you'll only take damage or lose a short bit of progress.
The platforming side of things isn't particularly exciting, as the climbing sections aren't significantly different from the linear walking segments. You don't need to scout handholds or anything like that to climb, you simply push the joystick around until Kratos inches along in whatever direction he's supposed to be going, watching for the occasional change in stance where you'll need to press X. Platforming around through the levels can offer some impressive sights to be sure, but you'll need to pay more attention to catch the random QTEs in the animations and cut scenes than you do to the platforming pieces of Ascension.
In contrast to the rudimentary platforming, the puzzles can be at once infuriating and gratifying. It's a nice change of pace from the intensive combat to have to solve an esoteric puzzle, but the utter lack of direction for certain sections requires either an immensely keen eye, or a perseverance typically reserved for the likes of Kratos himself. The Catacombs of Delphi puzzle provides the most poignant example of this, where the solution is anything but obvious given the setup. Once you've figured out just what you're supposed to do, however, seeing your efforts pay off can be thoroughly satisfying, especially in the rare circumstance where you solve the puzzle on the first attempt.
Bottom Line: God of War: Ascension is an intriguing blend of action-oriented hack-and-slash combat and puzzles. Though the platforming aspects don't really sell Ascension, they do give you an opportunity to catch your breath.
Recommendation: Though it's not for the faint of heart, God of War: Ascensionis a worthy addition to the franchise, with a lot to offer anyone that enjoys a serious challenge.
Game: God of War: Ascension
Genre: Action Adventure
Developer: SCE Santa Monica Studio
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Available from: Amazon(US), GameStop(US), Amazon(UK), Play.com(UK)