God of War: Ghost of Sparta Review

God of War: Ghost of Sparta (Available only on PSP)
ESRB Rating: M
Players: 1
Genre: Action
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: Ready At Dawn
Release Date: November 2nd, 2010

Parent Talk: God of War is adult-oriented.  Gallons of blood are spilled, and that’s typically in the opening cinematic alone.  There’s always a pair of breasts and a sex mini-game.  Don’t let your children play this game.  Have some brains and listen to the ESRB.  You’ll do society a favour.

Kratos is back, and thanks to Ready At Dawn, just as you remember him…awesome!  Chains of Olympus was the quintessential PSP showpiece, and several years later we finally have a follow-up to be proud of.  I consider Ghost of Sparta to be the PSP’s swansong.  The little handheld wonder succeeded where no other non-Nintendo portable could: hardware sales.  With over 60 million units worldwide sold, it’s time Sony started working on the PSP2.  Nonetheless, time to talk about what could be one of the last great PSP games, because Ghost of Sparta is definitely great.

The Great:

As epic as ever.  It’s not rare for COE to use words like epic, wonderful, amazing, etc.  We do all the time.  Rewind the clock fifty years, and you had to really accomplish something for the distinction of of epic, like sending a man to the moon or climbing to the top of Everest…but today all you have to do is headshot someone jumping off a small rooftop in the latest Call of Duty to be called “epic.”  While no videogame can truly earn the right to be called epic, God of War has always been one of the most deserving.  The same goes for Kratos’ latest outing.  The fact that all the action takes place on a less-than-foot-long platform is amazing.  The large-scale battles players are accustomed to are back and just as you remember them.

The Good:

+ Excellent storytelling.  I’m a GoW fan.  While you begin as an angry god-killer, the stories have always brought Kratos’s humanity full circle.  This brings understanding to his rage.  In Ghost of Sparta, we finally learn more about our anti-hero’s immediate family and the twisted events that lead to the separation of two brothers as young children.  The tale falls between God of War and GoW II, and it’s humane, sad, and vengeful.  By the end, you might just want to pop in God of War III to finish off Zeus once and for all.  Side note: Ghost of Sparta includes a Deimos skin for God of War III, allowing Kratos’ long-lost brother to be playable.

+ Shockingly great graphics.  If you ever played Chains of Olympus, then you know what I’m talking about: lush visuals that are on-par with the PS2 GoW games.  I kid not.  In fact, at times Ghost of Sparta looks better.  The camera wonderfully sweeps from grand battles to up-close and in-your-face moments of drama as Kratos inches ever closer to his final goal.  There are a few hiccups along the way, most noticeably when Kratos becomes the size of a small toy during some enormous battles.  You can lose sight of him in all the madness.  Regardless, the game almost never slows down, which showcases how impressive a developer Ready At Dawn is on the PSP..

+ Perfect gameplay balance.  As with the rest of the series, Ghost of Sparta sports a near-perfect combination of action and thinking.  The fighting is exactly as before, where Kratos wields the Blades of Chaos, and magic attacks.  Players can chain attacks to form brutal combos.  Add these elements to the great use of puzzles, many of which are similar to God of War III’s, and you have one awesome action game.

The Bad:

– Showing age.  I’m not talking presentation, but the series as a whole.  I adore God of War.  I’ve said on numerous occasions that it’s the “god of all action games.”  The problem, taken as a whole it’s becoming stale.  Don’t misunderstand, Ghost of Sparta is a wickedly fun game, but it doesn’t do anything to distinguish itself.  This is evident regarding boss battles.  I didn’t feel challenged at all because I’m a GoW veteran.  Even newbies would likely experience few problems taking on the giant creatures, and that’s a big problem.

The Ugly:

The PSP hardware is limited; we’ve known this.  Without a second analog stick, Ready at Dawn had to be imaginative for Kratos’s dodging, attacking, etc.  They did a commendable job, but it’s now clear that the market needs new hardware so Kratos can truly shine.  The controls work well, but Kratos would fare better on a more capable platform.  Hear what I’m saying Sony.

The Lowdown:

God of War: Ghost of Sparta is great, and a super way to end the PSP saga.  While we don’t know if that has happened, I hope that’s the case.  It’s the perfect way to say “Look at all I’ve done.  I’ve proven I could take on Nintendo and be a worldwide success!”  It’s time to move on.  Ghost of Sparta would have made a killer launch title for the PSP2, but this is a no-brainer for PSP owners.  Just be aware that it’s more “been there, done that”.  For you, that might be just what the doctor ordered.  If you’re growing tired of the tried-and-true formula, then you might find Kratos’ latest a bit underwhelming.

6 thoughts on “God of War: Ghost of Sparta Review”

  1. Wow. I remember that one of the secret endings to the original God of War was about Kratos’ lost brother. It took really long for them to finally tell that story… Hopefully, I’ll get to play this game soon.

  2. It’s a really fun game. It’s not too long either, which is wonderful because if it were I never would have gotten to this review. As it is it took me ages O_O

  3. I agree with everything in this review! Even the part where you say it feels like it’s getting stale because it’s true…

    I’m a huge GOW fan and this is probably the one I had the least fun with. Why? Only reason why is because the story is just a filler. It stands on it’s own but it’s just not as interesting as the other ones.

  4. Yeah I’m kind of wondering where Sony plans to take the series moving forward Pat. Don’t get me wrong, I love GoW, but you can only do so much with it. The trilogy is over with, and if they continue to pump out filler stories it’s going to start getting really old before too long.

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