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God Of War: Ascension by Tyler Bates (Review)

posted Mar 24, 2013, 3:06 PM by Koray Savas   [ updated Mar 24, 2013, 3:10 PM ]

God Of War is one of the exclusive staples of the Sony PlayStation. From it's beginning in 2005 on the PS2 until its, well, earlier beginning on the PS3 with Ascension, the franchise has developed and maintained its own unique gameplay and art direction. The music also plays no small role in the world of Kratos and the Gods of Olympus, with a whole slew of composers having pitched in to create the soundscape for the largest scale boss battles you will ever find in a game. Gerard Marino is the center of the thematic development for the series, but Ron Fish, Cris Velasco, and Mike Reagan have all done their fair share of making the God Of War games sound like they do. Oddly enough, but maybe not so surprisingly, none of them returned for this new tale of Kratos' perpetual struggle for vengeance. Tyler Bates has been brought in with his team of composers to takeover scoring duties, but what is ultimately delivered pales in comparison to what made these games so thrilling to begin with.

Bates is no stranger to the "sword and sandals" genre, as he puts it in the CD liner notes, and that alone is Ascencion's strongest aspect. He does an excellent job of maintaing continuity within the game's universe. The music never feels out of place, and it delivers on the nonstop action and violence the games are renowned for. It works, and it works well, but it never goes beyond what was already established. This is not inherently Bates' fault, as this is the 6th God Of War game in 8 years. The formula is mundane and run-of-the-mill. The franchise peaked with God Of War III; it was the culmination of Kratos' revenge and ended his character's rather bland storyline. But as it goes with most things that make lots of money with a guaranteed fanbase, it gets milked. Ascension as a game does not go beyond what was already established and thus its music is held back because of it. Hearing Marino's themes again is a highlight, but that just shows how much the rest of the score falls flat around them. There are a small handful of highlights, such as the choral work in "Shadow Revealed" and the quiet somber moments in "Aletheia's Last Vision," but as a whole the score fails to deliver.

God Of War: Ascension is a game that should not exist, and that unfortunately means its music never had the opportunity to truly go above and beyond and redefine what came before it. Tyler Bates feels like he was chosen purely because he scored 300, and while he is able to deliver a solid musical accompaniment to Kratos' carnage, it sounds too familiar and the listener is left bored.