God of War: Ghost of Sparta
Posted 2 years ago By - Marko Djordjevic
When Chains of Olympus - the first God of War game on PlayStation Portable - was released in 2007, it was viewed as one of the best PSP games ever made. It successfully translated the action of the then PS2 series into the palms of your hands. Shortly after launch, it seemed unlikely that Ready At Dawn, the studio behind that game, would ever make another PSP title as they didn’t feel it was a viable platform for future games. This changed earlier this year when they announced God of War: Ghost of Sparta. This second adventure might not revolutionize things the same way the first one did, but it still delivers an enjoyable experience that fan of the series and the genre itself will enjoy.
Ghost of Sparta takes place after the events of the first PS2 game; Kratos having already become a God is haunted by memories of his past and decides to search for answers. He makes his way to the city of Atlantis to seek this information out. Upon arriving there, he finds his mother who reveals his father’s identity and that his younger brother, Deimos, is still alive but being held captive. Kratos isn’t too pleased and decides to hunt for his brother and save him from imprisonment.
Kratos’ journey will see him trek through both Atlantis and Sparta as he searches for his brother. The gameplay here is identical to previous God of War titles. You will play as the young God as he goes through various sections dishing out a number of different brutalities along the way.
As you play, Kratos will obtain new weapons and magical items to help him out. His arsenal this time around includes the standard Blades of Athena and the new spear/shield combo called the Arms of Sparta. His Rage attack is Thera’s Bane, which infuses fire to his Blades of Athena. Varying attacks are a requisite, especially the use of the fireblades, which will be necessary to defeat enemies with shields and/or armor. The weapons are a blast to play with and the required variety really opens up different attacking styles.
God of War games are known not only for their fierce combat, but for the puzzles placed in front of Kratos as well. While there are a few of them in Ghost of Sparta, they aren’t as pronounced or difficult as they have been in his past adventures. The ones that you do encounter are almost always easily visible and rarely require you to try different methods. It’s not disappointing that the puzzles aren’t that hard, but it does make your journey through Ancient Greece a more streamlined affair.
Another weird omission is the lack of epic boss battles. Those who have played any of the previous God of War games knows, Kratos not only has to deal with a number of difficult sub-bosses, there are almost always a handful of challenging boss-battles that “wow” you as much as they test you. Unfortunately, there are only three major boss battles this time around, one early on, one about half-way and the final being the last battle of the game.
Quite often, boss battles would involve characters from Greek Mythology and while there are a few appearances, including a cameo by King Midas, they are extremely short and typically only require playing a quick-time event in order to dispose or get past them.
One thing that the series has always made so interesting is how it takes liberties at Greek Mythology and that is no different here. A good chunk of Ghost of Sparta takes place in and around Atlantis and even shows how the city was destroyed. As mentioned earlier, the appearance of a few characters also add to the adventure and creates a cool atmosphere to the surroundings.
There were a number of reasons why Chains of Olympus was such a popular game. Not only was the combat true to its console original, it looked fantastic and the story was incredibly enjoyable. In both later cases, the same holds true with Ghost of Sparta. The various environments you will play through are extremely beautiful to look at. One really impressive feature is how detailed the landscapes are. You would think that in a portable game the environments would feel a bit too static at times, but that can’t be farther from the truth here. At a few points you may be tempted to stop and admire the surroundings. One such example occurs when Kratos is traversing an area and you can see flaming arrows flying through the air; another occurs just before the middle boss battle, you see that boss soar in the air moments before meeting it. While they don’t affect what is currently happening with Kratos at that particular moment, it goes to show what else is currently going on in the world and adds a dynamic breath of life to the whole thing.
While the game features practically no loading time, there are a few sections where a “loading” pop-up does occur. These crop up about two or three times; they show up mid-attack instead of during a location change. While they don’t ruin the experience, they do stop the flow during those attacks. Another odd move is the transition between in-game action and cut-scenes. There is often a one or two second pause that feels quite disjointing. It wouldn’t be so bothersome if these only happened once or twice, but there are number of sections that go from regular gameplay into cut-scenes.
The other feature that makes the portable games of the God of War series so interesting are the portrayal’s of Kratos as a humane person, or at least one that has history. Those who played Chains of Olympus know there is a key moment involving Kratos’ family life and the same holds true here. This time around though, it is his relationship with his brother that demonstrates that Kratos isn’t just a monster or someone bent on destroying the Gods. That there’s much more to him than that.
The story treads along at a nice pace. Although Ready at Dawn did state that this game is deeper than Chains of Olympus, my playthrough ended up taking about the same length of time. Thankfully though, the number of bonus content available - including a challenging Combat Arena - does give more reason to play through a second time or at least to fool around after the credits roll.
While Ghost of Sparta doesn’t do anything revolutionary or really tweak the series, it still serves as an excellent action-adventure title that fans of the series will fully enjoy. If this is the last time we see Kratos on the PSP, thankfully, he ends on a high note.
+ Combat is true to the source
+ Great controls
+ Interesting story
+ Tons of additional content
- Very few epic-style boss battles or challenging puzzles
- Doesn’t innovate over the last PSP game
- Minor loading screen and transition issues
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Release Date : 2010/11/02
System : PSP
Publisher : Sony Computer Entertainment America
Developer : SCEA
Category : Action
ESRB : M
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