As a long time God of War fan and a follower of David Jaffe’s blog, it was with high expectations that I picked up God of War: Ghost of Sparta from a local game shop. In short, Ghost of Sparta delivers just what you’d expect. A fun ride, lots of killing, naked women and huge bosses. It excels in the few spots that Chains of Olympus faltered, and successfully brings the entire God of War package to the PSP.
The first scene quickly cements Kratos’ drive to once again rebel against Athena’s words and unleash his fury. A violent vision recalls a day long forgotten. The day that Deimos, Kratos’ brother was snatched away while Kratos looked on, unable to help. Kratos’ sole drive in Ghost of Sparta is to rectify that mistake and find Deimos.
From the onset you’re thrust into the action, controlling a miniaturized Kratos on board a sea faring ship crawling with blade wielding baddies determined to kill you. You slash your way through the hoards using Kratos’ iconic Blades of Athena, chaining familiar and new gory combos on ground and in air. New to Kratos’ moveset is a running tackle, followed by a barrage of punches. If done without interruption, you can mock your victim as Kratos brutally tears him apart. It isn’t long before you face Ghost of Sparta’s first boss, the gigantic and menacing Scylla in the first bout of a 2 round battle. Though not as epic as the Hydra or the Colossus, the Scylla serves as a great opening battle to Ghost of Sparta.
True to the original format as directed by David Jaffe, Ghost of Sparta’s combat is easy to grasp and violently satisfying. Newcomers will be chaining combos and decimating colossal mythic monsters in no time. The button commands are virtually unchanged, so for vets such as myself, getting into GOS was no sweat. The Blades of Athena control as fluidly as ever, allowing you to pull off brutal kills on foe after foe as easily as in any other God of War title. You’re also given the new Arms of Sparta; a shield and a large spear useful for taking out distant enemies. Fans of the hit film 300 will be glad to know that GOS pays homage, and includes the famous This is Sparta frontal Kick as one of Kratos’ devastating attacks. Unfortunately no, Kratos doesn’t yell out “For Sparta!” Perhaps next time? There is one glaring problem that wasn’t present in past titles. While fighting various foes at once, sometimes they will attack from out of view. They’re there but not on screen, which makes it very difficult to time blocks and dodges, especially when you’re fighting Wraiths that dig under ground and lunge at you. On higher difficulties, they can prove to be one hell of a frustrating enemy. Not just frustrating, but I want to throw my PSP at a wall frustrating. That’d kill them in one shot for sure, but then i’d be down a PSP. There will be plenty of battles in GOS that will have you seeing the “You’re Dead” screen multiple times, (the guys carrying the blue orbs will give you migraines) but that’s what makes it so much fun. It’s difficult and damn near impossible in some sections toward the end, but for the most part it’s manageable. Ready At Dawn did an excellent job of shrinking Kratos’ psychotic rage and bringing it to the PSP, but we already knew of RAD’s prowess didn’t we? Ready At Dawn also created 2008‘s God of War: Chains of Olympus and Daxter.
Ghost of Sparta also answers the age old question of what happened to the City of Atlantis. Well, Kratos got really pissed off and sank it. No seriously, GOS takes place in Atlantis as it’s sinking giving the player a remarkable view of an overflowing volcano, just before it destroys the city. Shortly thereafter we visit Kratos’ home, Sparta, in what is one of the series’ best moments in my opinion. Instead of running through Sparta, blades in hand and killing everything that moves, Kratos slowly strolls through, at one point stopping to satisfy a few dozen women’s sexual urges (Seriously, the sex mini-game in GOS tops all the others. No kidding). A brief flashback gives us a glimpse of a young Kratos and his brother, Deimos dueling just before they’re forcefully separated at the hands of the then God of War, Ares. Soon after punishing a dissenter, we’re given full control once more and allowed to mow down everything in Kratos’ path.
Once you’ve completed the game at least 1 time on Normal mode or above, you will have access to the true God of War fan’s challenge, God Mode. God Mode is an incredibly difficult setting recommended only for advanced players. Starting a new game will also give you the option to choose from a selection of alternate attires for Kratos, each of which raise certain abilities’ powers or reward you with more orbs after a kill. Treasures are back as well. This time we have Challenge Of The Gods, where you must complete 5-8 challenges that Ares and Athena task you with. They seem simple, but are anything but. In one challenge you have to open 6 chests while being attacked by several enemies. Opening a single chest with a few remaining enemies is hard enough, 6 is just sadistic. The Gauntlet, where you must kill every single enemy is bloody fun as well. The 2nd mode in Treasures is the Combat Arena. In the Combat Arena, YOU get to decide who you fight, where you fight and the level of difficulty. These modes are GOS’ way of increasing replayability, but I didn’t really play them all that often. They’re fun for a short while, but I’d much rather stick to the main game. The next mode is the Temple of Zeus. In this mode you can use the orbs you acquire in the main game to buy unlockables. In addition to all of that, you can also view all the in-game cinematics, a couple of videos about Deimos and a gallery.
The biggest issue with Ghost of Sparta is the occasional off camera enemy who can strike at anytime without giving you any notice.
New additions to the combat make it even more fun.
God of War: Ghost of Sparta is a satisfying ride through the violent world of Greek Mythology, and one that no God of War fan should pass up just because it’s a PSP title. Everything you love about Kratos is here, and in spades. At some points Ghost of Sparta even exceeds it’s console elders. The final scene is easily one of the best, and one of the saddest in the entire franchise.
10/10 As good as it gets on the PSP
So what did you think of God of War: Ghost of Sparta?