God of War: Ghost of Sparta Review
God of War: Ghost of Sparta box art
System: PSP Review Rating Legend
Dev: Ready at Dawn Studios 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: SCE Santa Monica 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Nov. 2, 2010 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Mature 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
Kratos...please calm down.
by Andrew Groen

Kratos has been on an amazing journey over the last five years. It's amazing to think that it was just 2005 when he first made his debut on the gaming scene. Since then, every one of the God of War games has broken new ground in graphical quality and whipped millions of gamers into a hype frenzy. And for very good reason. Every last one of the games has been amazing.

God of War: Ghost of Sparta screenshot

The formula hasn't changed much since David Jaffe directed the very first game: our favorite anti-hero Kratos develops some sort of vendetta against the gods of Mount Olympus and then sets out to slay them (to varying levels of success.) In that sense, Ghost of Sparta is a little bit different. Rather than being completely about revenge and killing, Ghost of Sparta reveals Kratos as something of a family man. The game explores his relationship with his mother and his brother Deimos.

Some of these scenes are a bit odd. Kratos has always been a little emotional, but some new scenes are over the top (“What have I done...”). Still, the added depth to the character is welcome even if it all simply amounts to more reasons for Kratos to grimace with the strength of a thousand suns.

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The story is really the newest aspect of Ghost of Sparta. The gameplay has remained largely unchanged apart from a few additions to the combat system. For instance, Kratos can now perform something of a football tackle, which leads to a few brief moments of private ground-and-pound for the enemy. I used this constantly, not because it's overpowering, but because it's visceral and fun to plow over enemies.

God of War: Ghost of Sparta screenshot

The other minor change that Ready at Dawn has been touting is the ability to render additional enemies on screen at once. Whereas the console versions feature Kratos slaughtering nearly a dozen enemies at once, the PSP had previously only been able to render a few enemies. Ghost of Sparta ups that number to about six. It's not a huge addition, but it does make battles a little more fun and intense.

Many things have remained almost untouched, but there's nothing inherently wrong with that. Millions of fans love the God of War formula, and those fans will feel right at home here. I get the feeling that Sony knows that they're mostly serving God of War games to returning customers. There isn't much of a tutorial to this game. For a big section of players that's going to be a big relief. There's nothing worse to a hardcore gamer than having to sit through a tutorial that tells them they need to press the joystick to move around. Most things are imparted in a brief thirty-second fight scene right at the beginning.

God of War: Ghost of Sparta screenshot

Another thing that is unchanged here is the massive scale of some of the battles, particularly the tradition (since GoW2) to begin the game with an immense battle against a truly larger than life enemy. In God of War 2, that fight was against the Colossus of Rhodes. In Ghost of Sparta, Kratos is assaulting the city of Atlantis as the game begins. Poseidon, in his rage, unleashes the enormous sea monster, Scylla. The horrifying creature chases Kratos as he approaches Atlantis, and several mini-boss battles must be fought in order to fend off the monster.

These scenes are nothing if not riveting, but as with so much else in this series, we've simply seen it all before. This is the fifth God of War game, and they've all been fairly similar. If you're not a fan of this series for the combat, then you're probably growing a bit tired of the formula by now. That's speculation, though. Factually, I can tell you that nearly everything in this game is of the highest quality we've ever seen on a handheld.

Screenshots / Images
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