God of War: Ascension was officially announced on the PlayStation Blog today. There are two important things to note, here.
First of all, it's being handled by Sony Santa Monica. This is no big shock - these are the folks who've made every console God of War game - it's just nice to know it hasn't been pawned off on some third-tier studio.
Second, did anyone else notice who that post was written by? Or, more importantly, who it wasn't written by?
Stig Asmussen is not directing Ascension. This too, is not that great a shock - every God of War game handled by Santa Monica has had a different director - but usually when they leave there are shocking articles detailing their departure from the studio and an interview which mentions the intolerable stress resulting from triple-A development.
After he birthed the series, David Jaffe left to start up Eat Sleep Play (Calling All Cars). After he handled the (fantastic) God of War II, Cory Barlog left to pursue other projects - but it's noteworthy that he came back to pen the narrative for Ghost of Sparta on the PSP. Nobody handles God of War stories like Barlog.
And then, there was III.
III was a technical and artistic miracle, but stumbled here and there. It was still a 9/10 game, but it wasn't as perfect as II.
I blame Stig Asmussen.
SPOILERS FOR GOD OF WAR III FOLLOW
If you watch the dev diaries for III included in the game's special features, you'll notice one point in which Stig - once-Art Director and then Game Director - addresses the studio as a whole. He explains to them that due to budget and time constraints, they will not be able to have the three planned titan battles in the game.
God of War III begins - as all God of War games do - with a massive, awesome set-piece battle. This one was against a gigant-ified Poseidon, waged from atop the titan Gaia, and is totally frickin' amazing.
In the middle, you kill Chronos - father of Zeus and the first titan.
In the end, you were supposed to fight Zeus and Gaia (mother of Earth) at the same time in a fight that made the Poseidon battle look like kids' stuff.
Stig decided to scrap the planned version of the Zeus/Gaia fight, tone it way down, and keep the Chronos battle.
He took what should have been the crowning moment in the game and the series, and replaced it with... ugh, I can taste bile just thinking about it.
In the dev diary, he explains that this change will require some re-writing of the original script. Instead, he tells them, of discovering ultimate power inside Pandora's Box in God of War, what Kratos actually found there... was hope. And the ability to forgive himself for killing his wife and child.
Seriously - watch the footage. There are a hundred people, staring at their boss, all biting their tongues and refusing to say "are you fucking kidding me?!" Or... that's my interpretation of the footage, at least.
It's like... wow.
THINGS YOU COULD
PUT IN A BOX
and their relative badass level
BUT NOT BADASS.
BUT SOOO KYOOT.
(BONUS POINTS FOR CLAWS)
IN A WAY WE'D LIKE TO SUPPORT.
IN A WAY WE'D LIKE TO SUPPORT.
TOTALLY FUCKING BADASS.
ACTUALLY KINDA' BADASS.
Honestly - at least the kitty has claws.
So I, for one, say thank goodness the fellow who made that obscene decision isn't calling the shots on Ascension.
Now the question is, who the heck is Todd Papy, and can he direct a game where the story is as thrilling as God of War II, the graphics are as phenomenal as God of War III and the grab mechanic isn't borked?