Developer: Ready at Dawn
Release Date: 11/2/2010
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God of War is just one of those games no one gets tired of, and each game brings new and excellent ideas to the table, and this has to do with the fact that each game has a new director. Ghost of Sparta borrows a lot of what God of War III did, tweaks it, and adds things to it as well. I honestly think Sparta is the best example of how to do a portable game well, and bring a console experience in without cramping the game’s style. Sparta is probably the most complete console copy on a portable to date, and there is nothing like it out there.
The game is set between the first two and is a side story of Kratos following a haunting vision. The vision of finding his long-lost brother, Deimos, and trying to cleanse yet another horrible memory. Along the way, you battle through Atlantis and other new locales for the game, but the style isn’t anything new. The locales in the game are pretty dark this time around and really focus on the whole dark aspect of the game.
The core of God of War is the combat and Ghost of Sparta trumps Chains of Olympus by a mile. Borrowing the recharging meter from III you get to infuse your blades with Thera’s Bane and this adds a whole new layer to the combat. Holding down R allows you to set your blades on fire and make them more powerful, but you have to time it and use it wisely. This is also used for breaking down armor on foes that can’t be hit normally, environmental puzzles, etc. Thera’s Bane is really fun to use, and there’s a lot of complexity that goes along with it that adds another layer of depth to the standard combat in the series.
There are new magical items, but they’re not as exciting as one might expect. I never really used them as often as I’d liked to have, but they come in handy in the later levels. The game also borrows the Hyperion Charge that shoulder rams enemies to the ground and lets you wail on them. I also never really found much use for it, and never used it through the entire game except when introduced, so it feels like there’s some filler in here, but it’s great for people who have a different play style. A whole new weapon is introduced and this is the Arms of Sparta. These are Kratos’ spear and shield and it’s good for close-up combat, and using the spear for far-off enemies, but it’s not a favorite and is no good and mid to long-range and doesn’t have the reach of the Blades. I never really used this except for when it was required during puzzles or exploration.
Sparta has a really good story behind it, and it doesn’t disappoint with its epic interactive story elements such as one scene where he fights his own past in a brutal way you would expect in a God of War game. The game also opens up with a classic gigantic boss battle with a Scylla, but it’s not as memorable as the console games or even Chains of Olympus. Speaking of bosses that game lacks hardly any with only maybe four in this six-hour adventure. The ending boss is probably one of the best in the series with an awesome co-op battle that has never been down before. The game’s ending is well worth it, and you’ll be pleased with how the whole story rolls out.
On a technical term this is the best-looking PSP or handheld game, ever made hands down. I don’t think any other developer can make a PSP game look better than one of the best-looking PS2 games ever made. Yes, it looks better than God of War II and it’s just full of lush detail and is bursting at the seams with effects. If you thought Chains of Olympus looked amazing this trumps it by a long shot. Water drips off every ledge, the backgrounds are fully animated, the game has a high poly count and highly detailed textures with even bump mapping! It’s just something to truly behold, and I doubt we’ll see another PSP game look this good. Of course, the game also comes with frame rate issues and never really goes above 30 FPS and sometimes drops down below 15, but that could just be my old PSP hardware.
The game also has its usual treasures, but adds the Temple of Zeus and lets you unlock videos, costumes, art, etc. by spending orbs you earn during the Challenge of the Gods. You can also create your challenges as well, and this lets you keep playing this epic game without having to tread through the story again (which I know I will be doing again).
Other than that though the game is lacking something. It’s not as well-paced as other games in the series, and the lack of bosses hampers the experience a bit. The game mainly focuses on balanced combat in which you get a variety of foes and must take each battle in a different way since some foes are weak to something and some aren’t. As well as focusing on exploration, and there really aren’t any puzzles to think of except very simple ones we’ve seen a dozen times in the series. The game is also just too straightforward and feels more repetitive than the other games, and that’s a bit disappointing considering the reputation of the series. However, the game is amazing, and I am not quite sick of seeing what Kratos has in store for us. Is this the last God of War game since III marked the end of the trilogy? Probably not since this is Sony’s major staple for its consoles. Ghost of Sparta achieves many things and will become an all-time classic.