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E3 2012: Can Multiplayer Take God of War: Ascension to New Heights?

Posted on June 8, 2012 AT 06:15pm

The Big Question: Do we really need a multiplayer God of War?

Quality melee-based action games are few and far between these days, and the God of War series has been a mainstay for blade-swinging gore-hounds for the better part of the last two generations. And, as a fan of the series’ shamelessly violent approach to the genre, I’m more than a little excited by what I’ve seen of this generation’s second original release, God of War: Ascension. The thing is, when Sony’s first glimpse of the title came in the form of a multiplayer reveal, I have to admit that immediate red flags popped off in my subconscious.

Not because I think it’s a bad thing, and not because I have doubts as to whether or not Sony can pull it off—I’m just not sure it has any place in the God of War universe. I get that companies feel this overwhelming urge to be competitive, and that franchises in other genres have managed to take otherwise unremarkable offline experiences and turn them into cultural icons via multiplayer, but I just don’t think God of War is a franchise that’ll make that happen. Much like EA’s laughably simple experiment with Dead Space 2, this mode strikes me as a blatant attempt to keep up with the joneses. As much as I enjoyed the Poy Poy–esque vibe of the mode we’ve seen, I don’t get why they’d expect me to put down Ghost Recon or Borderlands to run around whapping other players in a God of War game, leading me to wonder if their efforts were better spent elsewhere.

Then again, I can appreciate them wanting to give gamers a new way to experience the series, and I’m sure some fans will likely geek out over it. But, to me, God of War has always stood out as one of the few remaining franchises that doesn’t try to be more than it was meant to be—a fast-paced, brutal, story-driven journey filled with jaw-dropping moments of unrivaled ass-kicking and a combo system that makes most fighting games blush.

And now? I still think we’ll get that out of the campaign, but I have to wonder why Sony felt compelled to give fans this feature in the first place. They’re trying hard to find creative ways to deliver some of the game’s primary tenets in there, but that doesn’t make this mode feel any less awkward or unnecessary at its core. At some point, publishers have to find renewed faith in the soul of the projects they produce and get away from this aimless need to pander to every little niche of the gaming community, because games like God of War are better than that.

What do you folks think? Do you welcome multiplayer with open arms, or do you think Sony’s getting away from the legacy Kratos and co. have developed to date? Let us know below!

Brandon Justice, Executive Editor
Brandon Justice spent the last 17 years in the game industry wearing hats as an annoying retail weasel, an overly opinionated journalist, and game-development ninja—until he got tired of the all the caviar and groupies, returning to the ring as a rowdy, rambling writer in 2010 for EGM Media. Follow him on Twitter @jokeontheworldMeet the rest of the crew.

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