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Sony Santa Monica

PS4 photo

An all too brief trailer for Everybody's Gone to the Rapture

It still exists!
Jun 12
// Jordan Devore
The Chinese Room and Sony Santa Monica let out a quick trailer for their PlayStation 4 title Everybody's Gone to the Rapture and, oh, it's over already? Okay. But there's more to go on. It's June 1984 and, unfortunately, the...
PlayStation Community Exc photo
PlayStation Community Exc

Come buy that for a dollar at PAX East's PlayStation Community Exchange

Plenty of collectible T-shirts, figures, and other items available
Apr 04
// Brittany Vincent
If you're heading out to PAX East next weekend, you probably have a lot of extra spending money anyway, so why not stop by the PlayStation Worldwide Studios Community Exchange? That's "booth #608" in layman's terms, at the Bo...
Helldivers photo
It's like Magicka in space, and everyone's invited
Before GDC, we were joined by some of the fine folks at Sony live on Dtoid.TV. Above is a video of us playing an early build of Helldivers with its Sr. Producer, Mark Rogers. Helldivers is a game that admittedly went under m...

God of War dev layoffs photo
God of War dev layoffs

'Sometimes, a project needs a reboot:' Sony explains Santa Monica layoffs

Still mum on what potential PS4 project was cancelled
Mar 07
// Steven Hansen
God of War developer Sony Santa Monica was hit with layoffs recently. PlayStation head of internal software development Scott Rohde spoke with IGN about the layoffs, offering little consolation in the vague explanation. "Ther...
Layoffs  photo

Cancelled project at Sony Santa Monica was new open world sci-fi IP

Game rumored to debut at E3
Mar 01
// Wesley Ruscher
Following the recent layoffs that hit Sony Santa Monica earlier this week is the confirmation that a new title the developer was working on has been cancelled. The game, a new sci-fi themed open world IP was apparently f...
The Order: 1886 photo
The Order: 1886

The Order: 1886: Handsome men with guns & nice coats

Say "chowder"
Feb 26
// Steven Hansen
I may have been expecting something else out of The Order: 1886, for whatever reason, but I'm settling in to its identity as another cinematic (maybe the most cinematic) cover-based third-person shooter. I think it's all the fancy dress and mustaches that are convincing me. It looks like you beat up Hitler in this gameplay trailer, too. You don't, but it looks like.
Layoffs photo

Sony Santa Monica has been hit with layoffs

And possibly a game cancellation
Feb 25
// Jordan Devore
God of War developer Sony Santa Monica has undergone layoffs as first rumored earlier today and later confirmed by Sony Computer Entertainment America. "This is a result of a cycle of resource re-alignment against priority g...
PS4 photo

Journey, Unfinished Swan might be coming to PS4 (Update)

Sony Santa Monica creative director teases potential releases
Nov 03
// Kyle MacGregor
[Update: "Lots of people asking so I'll clarify. Was nostalgic playing the PS4 versions of the games so I busted out the PS3 to replay some others," Gary said in a follow-up on Twitter, adding he believes Journ...
GoW Ascension photo
GoW Ascension

God of War: Ascension hitting PSN, no more DLC planned

Ascending into the cloud
Oct 15
// Steven Hansen
God of War: Ascension is supposed to be really good, but boy does it feel forgotten this year (it just came out in March!). Sony Santa Monica hasn't forgotten it, though. The team has been pumping Ascension with a steady stre...
PS4 photo

Flower on PlayStation 4 runs at 1080p, 60 FPS

Extra grass detail! Guys!
Oct 04
// Jordan Devore
Did you know that Flower was coming to PlayStation 4? I guess I did, technically, but I've since completely forgotten -- until now. Sony Santa Monica director of technology Tim Moss has been tweeting about the new version and...

Lovely, huge art book: The Art of God of War: Ascension

Almost 400 pages
Sep 12
// Dale North
Here's a quick look at a brand new art book titled The Art of God of War: Ascension. It weighs in at 400 gold trimmed pages and is packed with tons of work from Ascension, including concepts, renders, details and more. ...
PS4 photo

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture is a PS4 exclusive

No PC release in sight, and here's why
Aug 22
// Jordan Devore
What a nice surprise it was to see Everybody's Gone to the Rapture on stage at Sony's gamescom presser. A sign of exclusivity, perhaps? Yep. Rock, Paper, Shotgun followed up with creative director Dan Pinchbeck who confirmed ...
Sony photo

God of War II director back at Sony Santa Monica

He's building a team for a 'freaking huge' project
Aug 09
// Jordan Devore
Cory Barlog has come back to Sony Santa Monica after stints at Just Cause maker Avalanche Studios and Tomb Raider studio Crystal Dynamics. Previously, he served as lead animator on God of War, director on God of War II, and c...
PS All-Stars' lost stage photo
PS All-Stars' lost stage

Images of cut Gravity Rush/Journey PS All-Stars stage

What-If Machine: cool-looking alleged Gravity Rush & Journey PlayStation All-Stars stage surface
Jul 22
// Steven Hansen
Some pictures of a seemingly cut Journey cross Gravity Rush stage of PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale hit the web courtesy of designer Ky Bui's website. They were quickly taken down, but the internet is all-seeing, without...

God of War: Ascension gets a new mode, five new maps

And it's all for free
Jul 12
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
The latest update for God of War: Ascension has brought with it a bunch of new stuff for players to try out. Namely the addition of a one versus one Bout of Honor mode. The best of seven match pits two players against each o...
The Order: 1886 photo
The Order: 1886

New info revealed about PS4 exclusive The Order: 1886

Taking cues from cinema
Jun 25
// Abel Girmay
Coming via the PlayStation Blog, Ready at Dawn has confirmed a few details about its upcoming PS4 title, The Order: 1886. For starters, the game is in fact a third-person shooter as some have guessed from the E3 trailer. Sti...
PlayStation 4 photo
PlayStation 4

You can thank Sony Santa Monica for the PS4 Share button

It was pitched with a PowerPoint and everything!
Apr 23
// Jordan Devore
One of the big new features for the latest iteration of the DualShock controller is its Share button. It will allow users to, for instance, broadcast footage of the game they're playing with minimal effort and represents ...
PS All-Stars DLC photo
PS All-Stars DLC

Impressions: PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale DLC 2

Zeus, Isaac Clarke, and the Graveyard stage
Mar 28
// Chris Carter
PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale struggles to remain relevant amidst today's extremely competitive fighting game market. Although one can't say the game has been a failure by any means of the word, it isn't the breakout ...

God of War: Ascension single and multiplayer guide

Mar 14 // Chris Carter
Tame non-story spoilers incoming. I’d recommend saving this article if you get stuck, and need a quick reference: Single player: Here's your top tip for every God of War game. Upgrade your blades first (your main weapon), to the maximum, before anything else. Don't get caught up putting a few thousand red orbs into spells and other things -- power up your blades first and foremost. 25,000 experience for higher-level blades may seem like a lot, next to the temping 1,000 magic upgrade, but all of the red orbs you earn do add up. I was able to max out my blades far before the Trial of Archimedes (easily the hardest part of the game), so it is possible even though it may seem daunting. Choosing where to go next in terms of leveling up is very tricky. Ares is great as it gives you early access to magic and rage. Zeus has one of the most formidable magic attacks in the game. Hades is extremely useful for leeching life. Poseidon's ice blades are great for earning more red orbs (more on this in a second), but don't need to be upgraded, necessarily. After maxing out your blades, try going for Zeus, then Ares, then Hades, then Poseidon. Although Poseidon's ice blades aren't worth upgrading for a long while, they're easily worth using in general most of the time. Defeating enemies with them will yield large red orbs, which can yield dividends as you upgrade your other abilities. I used the ice blades through most of the game, only switching to other elements during particularly tough battles. Don't underestimate the ability of Poseidon's red orb distribution to power up everything else you have. Break every object you come across. A lot of them are filled with red orbs that could be the difference between an upgrade for a big fight. Likewise, break all the creature eggs during the parts that have them. Make sure and use your throwing grapple for smaller enemies. It's highly effective and works for disabling multiple enemies at once. When you earn them, the Hades blades and the accompanying abilities are really good for stun locking weaker enemies. The camera can get extremely showboaty at times, and occasionally, this is completely on purpose, to block out hidden items on camera. Make sure you check every nook and cranny for hidden objects and white or red chests. For instance, don't go up a ladder until you've checked a corner. This is more of a general action game tip, as you'll eventually develop a "sixth sense" as to where hidden paths are as opposed to story related paths that will lock you out of prior areas. Don't worry about missing some white chests -- there are more Gorgon Eyes and Phoenix Feather chests than you need to fully upgrade your health and magic. You can't earn trophies in New Game+ mode, if that matters to you. This is just a fair warning in case you try to go through it for your Platinum. This isn't an in-game tip per se, but if you're looking for your PlayStation All-Stars Isaac and Zeus character codes, it's on the back of the Last of Us demo card inside your case. It doesn't unlock until March 19 and it's super easy to miss. Trial of Archimedes: This is the main reason why I wrote this guide, as it was highly requested. If you want to experience the full difficulty, do not patch the game before you beat it, as developer Todd Papy has confirmed that the Trial will be patched soon. Stage 1 - First off, equip Hades' blades for the majority of this area for a chance to earn green orbs and keep your health topped off. This is the hardest portion of the hardest area in the entire game, but this also your opportunity to liberally use your magic, as the Gorgons will allow you to replenish your magic orbs if you initiate the brutal kill minigame (R1 after the red icon appears over their heads). Feel free to let Zeus' lighting spell fly as you take down the Gorgons and the Sirens. Grapple the Sirens when the white icon appears above their heads to stun other enemies in their proximity -- you can chain stun two Sirens like this.Use your L2+Square and L2+Triangle powers liberally throughout this entire experience -- it's really easy to forget that you have them. If you keep rolling, use your combat items (L2+Square, L2+ Triangle), and burst magic and then earn it back with the Gorgons, you should be ok. Stage 2 - Use your full magic meter that you got from the Gorgons to make short work of the warriors, then brutal kill them for a much needed health boost. Grapple the Harpies immediately (you don't need the white indicator) and throw them off the cliff for a one-hit kill. When the Talos appears, all you have to do is not get cornered and he will go down easily. Make sure you keep track of the direction of the fire, and head to the top of the screen as often as possible. Stage 3 - This is the easiest stage, but it's also fairly easy to die after losing so much health and magic from the other portions. Watch the walls and stay in the middle, using your block more than your dodge rolling as much as possible. Use any magic you have on the Centaur, as the other enemies will be far easier. Remember to pull the Liches out of the ground with R1, and that blocking works against all their attacks. Multiplayer: I recommend starting with the Hades faction. It has some of the most diverse abilities for new and experienced players alike. Here is a build to get you started:Faction: HadesRelic: Steal health with brutal killsWeapon: Sword (a great mix of speed and power, easy to learn)Spell: Life leechL2 ability: Health steal cloudThis build makes it extremely easy to keep your health topped off, while giving yourself decent attack capabilities. From what I've seen, most of the factions are fairly balanced, except for Poseidon, which feels underpowered in this current version. You can easily change your faction with the Triangle button when customizing your champion, but all of them have different level tracks. Do not underestimate the effectiveness of regular Square-button attacks. Players often aren't used to constantly blocking and will be left open. Also, the few seconds after power attacks (L2+Square, L2+Triangle) are great opportunities for a combo with Square attacks. Learn the dance of heavy attacks and parrying. It's a game of rock, paper, scissors, as heavy attacks cancel parrying, parrying cancels light attacks, and light attacks can stop heavy attacks. Don't forget that you have L2+Square and L2+Triangle weapon attacks, and use them as often as possible, as their cooldown count is fairly low. Steal kills in deathmatch multiplayer as often as possible. If you see two to three enemies lying down ready to be grappled into a brutal kill, try to slash them with the Square button first -- grappling one of them may allow for temporary invincibility during the grapple animation, but someone else will sneak up and steal the other kills while you're only earning one. Likewise, use brutal kill grabs to avoid damage when you're low on health.
God of War: Ascension photo
Trial of Archimedes giving you trouble?
God of War: Ascension has been giving a lot of people trouble over the past few days, but if you play your cards right, it doesn't have to be a difficult experience -- or, say, nearly as difficult as Metal Gear Rising. Like Onimusha and Devil May Cry before it, a lot of the game's edge can be taken off with careful planning of your weapon experience levels, and a few other tips along the way.

God of War photo
God of War

Here's how Hades' faction works in God of War: Ascension

Jack of all trades, master of none
Mar 12
// Chris Carter
Recently, we got word of how Poseidon's crew would roll in God of War: Ascension, and now we have some info on Hades' posse. Evidently, followers of Hades don't particularly excel at offense or defense, but through spells li...
Bros Before Foes photo
Bros Before Foes

Patch renames God of War's 'Bros Before Hos' trophy

A day one patch will rename the achievement to 'Bros Before Foes'
Mar 11
// Allistair Pinsof
The "Bros Before Hos" trophy rewarded to players in God of War: Ascension has caused some upset among critics. Players, however, should not have the same issue, according to developer Sony Santa Monica, who told Joystiq that ...

God of War: Bros Before Hos

Mar 11 // Jim Sterling
As far as the in-game content goes, I'm hard pressed to be too offended by Ascension, personally. I certainly don't begrudge anybody the right to be offended by it, but at the very least, I'd say the scenario as presented more or less fits with Kratos' character. He's a violent, and rather unpleasant protagonist, who has been sacrificing defenseless men and women since the first game, let alone invulnerable women who can fight back. His is a world of Greek Gods and mythology, a world already famous for treachery, amorality, and characters generally considered none too nice. It's also worth mentioning the Trophy itself is more of a reference to the aforementioned ally with whom Kratos speaks. The "Hos" are indeed a reference to the female villains, but the Trophy is not a direct reference to him beating them up. It was poorly timed, and an utterly insipid use of an equally insipid phrase, but it's important we correctly frame the context here.  This is not to say the imagery contained within the game isn't potentially distressing for some audience members, but then again, that's why games have warnings, and I think anybody jumping into the God of War series at this point has a full grasp of the content it displays. Again, this is not to say those with a problem should be shouted down or silenced, simply to say that this is what God of War is.  It's perfectly acceptable to have a "hero" we may disagree with, who may even be morally repugnant to us. I recently fell in love with the House of Cards trilogy -- the original UK show -- and found Francis Urquhart a thoroughly compelling protagonist. I find his morals dismaying, his ethics alarming and his politics utterly terrifying. He's a hard conservative with contempt for the poor, he's a murderer, a backstabber, and altogether dangerous to know. Yet, he's also charming, and deliberately takes the viewer into his confidence, breaking the fourth wall to turn us into his sympathizers whether we like it or not -- a fact he gleefully points out. It works with horrific effectiveness, causing us to constantly examine who we're rooting for and why we're so enthralled with a man we find so utterly despicable. When games attempt this, I can't help but be excited.  However, games are always hamstrung by the fact they are, of course, games. Francis Urquhart may force us along for the ride, but we are only on a ride -- belted in, strapped up, and passively following along. Is it impossible for gaming to give us an Urquhart? Not at all. It may be harder, but it's not impossible. In fact, it's been done several times over.  Anti-heroes with questionable morals aren't exactly new to videogames. Saints Row 2 puts players into the booties of a psychopathic manchild, a character we would have to view as a villain protagonist at best. His or her idea of retribution is shockingly disproportionate, and not once is it ever portrayed as a bad thing. Volition Games was able to get away with this through sheer audacity, ramping up its narrative to such utter extremes that we have to laugh along with its ridiculousness. We are disarmed by the silliness of it all, and it allows us to be willing accomplices in our avatar's endeavors without feeling too guilty.  Humor isn't the only method of successfully presenting a villainous protagonist, of course. For all its documented problems, Kane & Lynch: Dead Men was at least a fascinating exercise in allowing players into the lives of two thoroughly irredeemable human beings. Amoral at best, dangerously insane at worst, Kane and Lynch are excellent examples of playable characters whose actions, however complicit we are in them, remain nonetheless disagreeable. We're not supposed to like, or feel sorry, for these characters. We're aiding them, we want to see how their story ends, but the game frequently reminds us that they're scum, true lowlifes who essentially survive, but never get to live.  It's all about the presentation in the end, and this is where God of War: Ascension really fouled up. The problem with Trophies (and Achievements) is that they have increasingly become punchlines, pithily named pop-ups appearing at the end of any major chapter in a videogame. Playing through any narrative campaign, we expect to hear the familiar chime accompanied by a witty summary at the end of any major boss fight or cutscene. For the player increasingly steeped in Xbox 360 and PS3 gaming, a significant event in a story feels almost naked without it. This, however, is clearly presenting an issue in some scenarios. Without the "Bros Before Hos" crack, Ascension provides a shocking, potentially disturbing, sequence -- one that is in keeping with Kratos' questionable brand of heroism. With it, the whole thing is presented as a joke, which can then be taken as a mockery of violence against women. It is not, however, the first time a game's content has been undermined by Trophies.  Enslaved: Odyssey to the West (and be warned we've got spoilers coming) features a character by the name of Pigsy, who naturally inspires a slew of porcine puns in the game's Achievements/Trophies. Phrases like "Swine Flew" and "What a Pig" all pop up through the course of the game, hoping to inspire a cheap smile with a little light wordplay. This is relatively inoffensive stuff, until a late chapter that attempts to tug at our heartstrings, and fails through no fault of the writing itself. Essentially, Pigsy dies in an attempt to save the heroes from a group of enemy death machines, a moment played not for laughs, but for tears. Pigsy was something of a joke character up until that point, but comes through in a fairly archetypal display of self-sacrifice, one that's really not badly done. Until, of course, the Achievement "Smoky Bacon" pops up, reducing the entire scene to a joke. At that moment, any attempt to build an emotional response from the audience is lost, any sense of sadness immediately shattered. Pigsy's death, far from being a noble display of affection and respect for his allies, is now a gentle goof, complete with punchline.  Can you imagine your response to The Lion King if, when Simba discovers his father's body in the ravine, a subtitle displaying the message, "MuFAILsa" popped up? Or perhaps if, in Final Fantasy VII, that famous death scene was punctuated with the phrase, "Anyone fancy a kebab?" It would ruin the entire atmosphere, and bring you out of any feeling the content was trying to evoke from its audience.  This is the risk posed by Achievements and Trophies, though it needn't always be a detriment. Portal 2 used the system as part of a joke, in which its main antagonist announces "the part where he kills you," followed by a chapter note confirming this was indeed the part where he kills you, followed then by an Achievement popping up called -- you guessed it -- "The Part Where He Kills You." Perfectly timed, and a very clever way of using something unique to games to enhance the narrative experience. This was a joke only a game could make, and it needn't just be for comedy.  There's a prevailing attitude that Achievements and Trophies are meaningless -- pointless distractions that are best ignored. Indeed, you can even turn off notifications for them in most cases. However, some people like them, others find them largely acceptable, and altogether there's a clear point to be made in their impact on the way we approach and respond to games. Without that Trophy in Ascension, and its use of a pathetic and tacky sentiment, I dare say Sessler would not have been so damning in his appraisal of the game. Without that Achievement in Portal 2, a good joke would not quite have been hammered home. These systems are a part of gaming now, linked closely to the experience, and should be respected -- a savvy developer can exploit them to great storytelling advantage, while an ignorant one can unwittingly create a faux pas.  It's one extra element to consider when your game contains shocking or questionable content, even more so when your antagonist is a Kratos, a Lynch, or a Saints Row gang leader. Presentation is key, and if games want to keep evoking that masterfully malevolent Francis Urquhart -- which I hope they do -- they'd best seriously consider how all elements of a videogame, even the throwaway ones, can effect that presentation.
Bros Before Hos photo
On dubious morals and dubious presentation
In what may be considered a storm in a teacup, not quite gaining the same traction as other controversies, God of War: Ascension has caused a bit of a stir with a "misogynistic" Trophy, an award you get as part of the main ca...

God of War controversy photo
God of War controversy

The controversial God of War 'Bros before Hos' trophy

Adam Sessler calls out Sony Santa Monica
Mar 11
// Chris Carter
Warning -- do not watch the above video without subjecting yourself to minor spoilers for God of War: Ascension. As you may have heard, Adam Sessler recently played through God of War: Ascension, and was disgusted by a parti...

Review: God of War: Ascension

Mar 07 // Dale North
God of War: Ascension (PlayStation 3)Developer: Sony Santa MonicaPublisher: Sony Computer EntertainmentRelease: March 12, 2013MSRP: $59.99 This prequel story kicks off not long after Kratos killed his family, at a time where he is still dealing with that pain. He's now out to cut ties with Ares for this terrible act he was tricked into, and Ares has three horrible sisters known as the Furies, Ascension's antagonists, out to punish him for trying to break his oath with the god. These Furies capture, confine, and continuously torture Kratos. This manages to spark and grow that head-ripping rage in Kratos we've all come to know and love.  Kratos is still in full-on badass territory in Ascension, but he's not quite to the level we're used to yet, with a slightly trimmer build and less in the way of scars. You'll see him grow in both strength and rage over the course of the 8+ hour single-player campaign. It's not that he is weak at the beginning -- you'll even witness the acquisition of his Blades of Chaos -- it's just that he ends up being so powerful by the end of the game that you can't help but feel like a god. Developer Sony Santa Monica did a wonderful job of weaving its story into gameplay, making Ascension feel more like an adventure than ever before. Story beats are smartly tied into Kratos' journey, getting us away from the stage-boss-cinematic rotation of previous games. Some of the cinematic story bits tie directly into battles. I don't want to spoil it for anyone, but Sony Santa Monica has pulled off one of the greatest bait-and-switch boss introductions ever. A lot of the magic behind the God of War franchise is in how minimal work, like simple three-button combos, turns into brutally fantastic results on-screen. The hack-and-slash core mechanics of the series are still intact, though a new progression system adds elemental magic to the Blades of Chaos. Fire, ice, thunder, and soul magics are acquired at different points in the story, and they can be upgraded alongside the standard blades with red orbs. Fully upgraded, these elemental magic additions allow for some pretty explosive attacks -- ones that will prove highly useful in the final chapters of the game. Overall, combat feels and looks a bit tighter than before. This improved fluidity goes nicely with some additional moves to Kratos' arsenal. World Weapons, like swords, clubs, spears, and shields, are found during gameplay, and can even be pulled from various enemies' hands. Kratos can now take these and use them as his own, with the circle button being dedicated to their use. Each weapon has its own feel and purpose. The sword is fast and chains nicely into Blades of Chaos combos, while the heavy club is slow, though it can be charged up to hit harder. Shields can be used both defensively and offensively, and spears, while finite in supply, can be thrown to hit enemies from a distance. The addition of World Weapons alone makes for combat that feels much more varied than ever before. The game does a great job of placing these weapons in the best situations, so coming across one is always like finding the best toy on the playground. The R1 button is now assigned to chain tethering, a supremely useful addition. A press of this button when faced toward a beat down enemy sporting a red halo initiates a zoomed in special kill -- that's always fun. Stuns, shield grabs, and other neat tricks are also assigned to this button/function. You're free to incorporate this long-ranged grapple into your move set, allowing for in-air juggles that look and feel fantastic. I loved being able to hold an enemy, leashed with one chain, while attacking others, and then later pulling that enemy in as a sort of finale. It's equally fun to take a tethered enemy and swing them around like a fleshy wrecking ball to take down other enemies. There are also some new abilities that are tied to acquired items that let Kratos pull of some neat tricks. The most impressive of the bunch lets Kratos manipulate time for a specific object, letting him ruin or heal something to change its state. For example, a broken bridge can be made whole again. Another lets Kratos clone himself to be in two places at once. Both of these are used heavily in the game's many puzzle sections, though both can also be used in battle. The most welcome of Kratos' new bag of tricks has nothing to do with combat at all. Getting around between battles has always been a bit of a drag for the franchise, but now Kratos finds himself doing anything but walking with new movement skills. Expect running and jumping, swinging from chains, kicking through walls, and many other kinds of explosive entries into rooms this time around. Also, Kratos now muscles over cliffs and through ruins as a climber, with a grip strength that would make Nathan Drake jealous. And why walk when you can slide? Kratos can scrape down walls, slide through ruins, and glide over ice and metal now. Ascension is packed with new modes of movement to break up the action and add some excitement to getting around.  Kratos' brains are tested alongside his brawn in Ascension's many puzzle segments. While a couple of the less important puzzles hover dangerously near clunky territory, most are a nice challenge for your noggin, and a few are deviously constructed, forcing you to pull from every trick you've learned up to that point to solve them. The best of them add magical skills to the more standard stuff, like platforming and lever pulling. Near the game's ending, a string of large scale puzzles are brilliantly strung together in an overall challenge that has you fighting (literally) to figure out what goes where. After some truly taxing trials and several smaller rewarding aha! moments, it all comes together to form one of the most clever and impressive level-based puzzles I've ever seen. The reward for all of this work is massive in more ways than one. For as difficult as some of the puzzles are, they're nothing compared to some of the fighting challenges Ascension presents. Even with all of the changes to the God of War formula this game brings, locked-in-a-room, wave-based challenges are still the norm, and a few of them are so difficult that I wondered if I'd even finish the game.  It feels like Sony Santa Monica wanted to increase the challenge to match Kratos' increased power and new arsenal, but there are a few times where it feels like they went a bit overboard. I can confidently state that I have never restarted from a checkpoint as many times as I did with God of War: Ascension. While I'll admit to having pretty poor reflexes, and I know that I'm not the best action game player out there, I'm willing to bet that just about everyone will have a pretty hard time with one particular challenge stretch near the end of the game. If you don't end up screaming at your television, I'll be surprised. When God of War was new, prompted button presses during cinematic action excited us. Now this mechanic is commonplace, and some might say outdated. I wouldn't go as far as to say that Ascension relies on QTEs, nor would I say that they mar the experience, but they're still part of the gameplay here, and those that were hoping for something more interactive this time around may be disappointed. They have added some new interactions on top of the standard face button attacks, though the interspersed instances of timed dodging with the left analog stick do not feel that much different. I have a feeling they were going for something more dynamic, but it really is still just inputting a command within a set time frame to proceed through a cinematic. As always, there's a huge, flashy spectacle to go with these events, so they're at least entertaining for your eyes and ears. Sony Santa Monica seems to be showing off that they know the PS3 inside and out with Ascension. I swear I could almost feel tension emanating from my PS3 while playing this game, as it seems that this team cranked every knob to the maximum level to make Ascension as stunning as possible. Huge cinematic set pieces and boss battles are a mainstay of the franchise, with predecessor God of War III having some of the most fantastic man vs. god clashes ever to grace a television screen. Somehow they've managed to top that with Ascension, with backdrops and beasts that seem to push the limits of what's possible for the hardware. The environments are a new high for the franchise -- some outstanding work has been done to give this game much more atmosphere than any of its predecessors. Throughout the game you'll find brilliant use of scale, making Kratos as small as possible, and his enemies as big as possible, sometimes ridiculously so.  The single-player campaign is a constant string of "wow" moments that I'm sure will stand out in your mind for years to come. For maximum enjoyment, do not let anyone spoil the big moments God of War: Ascension for you. Find the biggest screen and the loudest sound system you can, crank it up, and dive in. Even outside the fantastic boss battles Ascension never stops being impressive. Visually, the game usually hovers at merely beautiful, but it often ramps up to jaw-droppingly gorgeous, making for a game that could just as easily entertain hands-off spectators.  From the glossy textures, slick animations, and ultra-realistic lighting, there's a shine and polish that runs throughout the game that makes it a perfect send-off for the PS3. There are a few scuffs that missed polish, though. One of the biggest of these are sound dropouts. The problem was apparent in our preview sessions, later in the released demo, and now in the final code. Sometimes, at critical moments, the music, background sound effects, or even a primary sound will not be heard. Seeing a massive gate door come crashing down without an accompanying sound effect was funny, but having key emotional moments marred by the music stopping momentarily was less enjoyable. This seemed to happen most during background loading or saving. Other smaller bugs managed to crawl up from the depths, though they're small gripes in an otherwise smooth experience. Every time Kratos slid down a ladder, the sliding sound effect would not stop as long as he remained on the ladder, even if he was done sliding. Sometimes enemies would spawn behind barriers, or get caught in item boxes, too. One graphical glitch had the entire stage and characters going black, with only lighting and particle effects showing. This was one of the prettiest looking game glitches I've ever witnessed. My only real gripe on intended effects is on the screen shaking effect, which was taken overboard in places. Everything from the ground rumbling to large monster movement to weapon impact has the screen shaking. Sometimes the combined effect of the three ends up being dizzying, especially in segments where Kratos' on-screen presence is small. Trying to keep track of Kratos and his enemies while everything shook was frustrating at times. I found myself having to pause and look away from the screen to get my bearings. I feel bad griping about these issues as Ascension was such a thrilling ride overall. It's like griping about squeaking wheels on one short segment of the fastest, craziest, most thrilling rollercoaster ever. And like a great coaster, you'll want to get right back on for another ride.  While online multiplayer is a new concept for the franchise, I'm glad to say that God of War: Ascension's multiplayer isn't some tacked on mess that was included to be able to put a bulletpoint on the box. Multiplayer in Ascension is surprisingly deep and refreshingly unique. I can't wait until this game goes live so I can slash and bash some more faces. You'll start out with a muscular but otherwise blank slate of a warrior when first jumping into Ascension's multiplayer. Pledging your alliance to one of four gods -- Zeus, Ares, Hades, or Poseidon -- helps determine what your character will become, with each choice bringing its own strengths, weaknesses, and abilities. Your choice also starts you at the bottom of a skill tree that you'll climb as you fight in battles and gain experience. Experience is earned by winning, of course, but kill streaks and other challenges will also reward you with points. For example, Labors, which are "commandments from the gods," give you very specific goals to knock out while fighting. They have you doing things like attacking a statue in a stage three times, with successful completion bringing both experience points and armor unlocks. This experience will go not only into your character and his abilities, but also into his armor and weapons. Depending on your god alliance, working up this skill tree will gradually unlock more unique armor and items to use in future battles. Experience also goes into earning Relics, which are passive abilities that give you battle perks. For example, the Relic of Regeneration refills a player's magic bar for each successful grapple or throw. Combat is pulled straight from the single-player game, though there are smaller differences tied to each alliance, and perhaps a greater focus on defense, blocking, and parrying. All characters have light and strong attacks, all can block and launch, and all have grapple moves and finishers. Special item-specific attacks are tied to each of the three weapon types, and are used by holding down L1 and hitting either the light or strong attack buttons. These powerful moves have a cool down timer attached to them, as do alliance-specific "god item" special attacks.  All of the alliances seem to have access to the same core weapons -- hammers, swords, and spears. But magics, strengths, weaknesses, specific resistances, and other stats are tied to your alliance. The fighting is fast and flashy in Ascension's multiplayer, much like it is in the single-player campaign. Basically, if you've ever wondered what it would be like to throw a bunch of Kratos-types in one room to fight it out, this will serve as an answer. What's great about the combat system is how approachable it is -- anyone that has played any God of War game will be able to pick this up and start slashing.  I played against other press members for a few hours prior to launch, going through the various multiplayer modes in some increasingly competitive bouts. Early free-for-all matches, called Favor of the Gods, had every warrior out for himself, out to kill to see who would reach 8,000 favor points (you're killing to sacrifice bodies to your chosen god) first. Those that slashed the fastest seemed to win early on, but I think that effective blocking and smart use of other abilities, like the powerful magic spells, won out eventually.  This evolved into a four-on-four team version of Favor of the Gods, with the first team to pull in 8,000 favor points winning. These matches were fast and crazy -- imagine three or four players of one team frantically slashing away at one cornered opponent, with Ascension's fiery effects lighting up the screen. Some might say that the flashiness of the attacks makes the action a bit hard to follow, but my strategy of swinging the fastest until the air cleared seemed to serve me well. Capture the Flag continued with the four-on-four teams, with the standard mode roles applying. It was a nice change of pace from the free-for-all matches, though the stages these matches played out in kept things interesting. Another mode called Trial of the Gods has players teaming up to go against waves of enemies together to see how long they can survive.  It seems Sony Santa Monica had some fun with the stage design for multiplayer. Each are packed with plenty of toys like spawning weapons and power-ups;  portals for health and magic refills are scattered about as well. Add in teleporting ports, item chests, fire traps, catapults, fire bombs, flame turrets, and more, and you've got a crazy sort of funhouse feel that keeps the combat light and fun. It's like being in a wild, attraction-packed theme park with bottomless toyboxes placed about. It's all staged just so that no one could find themselves taking it too seriously. This made it so that I was more than happy to jump back in for another round every time.  In the rare instance that you have a chance to look around the stages, you'll appreciate how much detail work was put into them. Aside from the varied obstacles they all present, there's also some kind of secondary goal for each. Whether it be fire bombing people in the distance or poking out a massive cyclops' eye, there's never a dull moment.  Multiplayer is everywhere right now, but there aren't many games that offer fast, accessible, melee-based fighting like Ascension does. Tacked on? Hardly. Ascension's multiplayer is a daring move that pays off big. It's a game in its own right, worth the price of admission on its on for online gamers looking for a new kind of challenge. Fans of games like Capcom's Power Stone will be thrilled. Ascension had challenges coming from every direction from early on. Some of the franchise's core mechanics have grown a bit tired over the past years, which had gamers questioning the need for another title. Beyond this, some questioned the need for a prequel story. Most of all, the idea of a multiplayer addition was initially off-putting to vocal series fans. But, like Kratos, Sony Santa Monica ripped through every one of these challenges with their bare hands to bring us a game that is so fantastic that it should make anyone that ever questioned them feel bad for doing so. God of War has never looked or played better than this. Kratos has never been as deep or interesting as this. They've set the bar so high that I have no idea how they'll be able to follow this one up. Sony Santa Monica should be proud. Series fans should be proud. 
GoW: Ascension review photo
Dis sh*t Kra ... tos
How do you top something that was already considered over-the-top? Especially when this particular brand of over-the-top has become pretty familiar since in past eight years? We all know that God of War's protagonist, Kratos,...

God of War Poseidon video photo
God of War Poseidon video

Fear Poseidon in this new God of War: Ascension trailer

He's not all that, Sony
Mar 07
// Chris Carter
Like it or not, God of War: Ascension will have multiplayer. As you may know from the beta, your character can pledge allegiance to a certain god -- this new video from Sony showcases Poseidon, "a god to be reckoned with." O...
God of War: Ascension photo
God of War: Ascension

God of War: Ascension will have a co-op horde mode

Fight waves of monsters with a friend
Mar 06
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
God of War: Ascension's fourth multipalyer mode is Trial of the Gods, a two-player co-op (or solo) mode where you have to face five increasingly difficult waves of enemies. The twist here is that you're racing against the cl...
God of War: Ascension photo
God of War: Ascension

300's King Leonidas shown off in God of War: Ascension

Weirdest tie-in ever
Mar 06
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Wow. I totally forgot this was happening. So yeah, King Leonidas from the movie 300 is in God of War: Ascension as a multiplayer character. You can play as the King of Spartans only if you pre-order the game from GameStop. Pre-ordering Ascension from any other retailer will get you The Mythological Heroes Pack. This will let you play as Perseus, Orion, Odysseus, and Achilles.
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PS4 games

Sony: All first-party studios are working on PS4 games

Gran Turismo sure would look nice on PS4
Feb 25
// Jordan Devore
Speaking to IGN, Sony Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida confirmed that all of Sony's first-party studios are gearing up for the new console. The outlet asked "Is it fair to say that all of the first party studios are...
God of War photo
God of War

God of War: Ascension's single-player demo hits Feb 26

Participate in Facebook "experience" to get early access
Feb 15
// Conrad Zimmerman
Sony has revealed the release date for the single-player demo of God of War: Ascension, which we have been told will be proliferating through the tubes of the internet on February 26. Not soon enough for you? There's also way...
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PS All-Stars DLC

Impressions: PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale DLC

Kat, Emmett, and the Fearless stage
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// Chris Carter
PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale struggles to remain relevant amidst today's extremely competitive fighting game market. Although one can't say the game has been a failure by any means of the word, it isn't the breakout su...

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