Regular visitors to the treehouse will know that this ape is a big fan of Kratos and will also know that I was unsure of a God of War multiplayer because, like I’ve said before, if you’re not playing as Kratos then you’re not playing God of War. Was I right? Of course I was, I always am – but lets run through the beta to see why.
As you probably already know, the full version will allow you to pledge allegiance to one of four gods and that’s what will define your abilities. In the beta only two of the gods are available, Ares and Zeus, so you can opt for emphasis on physical strength or magical powers. Being a simple ape, I opted for the physical strength and jumped into the game full of confidence in my combat abilities. It didn’t take long for me to have my comeuppance.
The beta starts with a tutorial which is pretty good and instructs you in the basic and advanced controls. I zipped through it as quickly as I could and found myself in the Hercules Arena with three other online gamers who proceeded to well and truly kick my ass. I soon realised that these guys weren’t any better than me, they had just been playing longer and had therefore upgraded their abilities. I was swinging the most basic sword and wearing little more than a cod piece, whereas the other dudes had upper and lower body armor and were brandishing superior weapons. Unperturbed, I battled on but the Hercules Arena, which is a small map, is a tricky level to begin with because it’s completely chaotic with everyone trying to kill everyone else at random and there is nowhere to run. The action is absolutely crazy and I found myself getting murdered by someone every 60 seconds. One good thing about this was that I got to see the brutal kills in action which involve being cut in two from the shoulder blade down or alternatively having my intestines spilled all over the floor. It would have been much more enjoyable if I wasn’t on the receiving end all the time.
My return visit to the multiplayer was much more positive. The map was Desert of the Lost Souls which is a pretty large open environment where two teams of four take each other on in a Favor of the Gods game. The objective is to earn Favor points by killing the opposing team, capturing checkpoints or killing the giant cyclops in the background – yes that’s right, there’s a giant cyclops who will crush you with his fist if you give him half a chance but that’s ok because you also get to kill him.
This map includes fiery pits, spike traps and portals that can be used to transport between locations instantaneously. You’ll figure out the locations where health and magic can be recharged and you can use tactics to achieve victory instead of pressing triangle and circle as quickly as possible. You can probably tell that I was far more impressed with this level and I really enjoyed immersing myself in the carnage. The action is intense but it’s also paced enough to give you the time to execute special moves and to take the time to perform Brutality kills to earn extra favor points. There are occasions when almost every player is involved in a brawl and it’s difficult to tell who’s who but you have a 50/50 chance of getting out alive or respawning at a safe distance from the action.
The controls will be familiar to fans of the series and will be easily picked up by newcomers. I particularly liked the combination of using L1 and the triangle, square or circle to execute a special attack. It’s easy to perform because it’s such a simple button combination but it results in a really effective and impressive attack. It’s all about timing and that’s where you can out perform the button bashers who will dominate the more compact arenas.
As this is just a beta of the game, this is just a beta of a review so I’m not going to nail my colors to the mast just yet but I will say that I am very optimistic about the multiplayer addition to the series. These days, a lot of consumers demand an online aspect to a game if they’re going to shell out $50 or more and I reckon that Santa Monica Studios had to take that into consideration for the latest God of War title. One of the big criticism’s has been that there is no Kratos in the multiplayer – I think that fans concerns about this will be quickly forgotten when they get into all the other enjoyable features on offer in the game. The MP characters are not all that different from him anyway and you’ll find yourself up against some darn tough dudes regardless. It really isn’t worth getting hung up on and you won’t have the time to worry about not being your favorite protagonist with all the crazy slashing action assaulting your bulging eyeballs. If you waste time worrying about that you’ll be the dude getting chopped in two and I’ll be the ape doing the chopping! It’s not like playing God of War, but it is a fantastic way of taking the mechanics of the single player game and employing them into a multiplayer environment. Fun, Chaotic and beautifully disgusting, this beta has wet my bloody appitite for what is to come…