Home | News | Reviews | Previews | Hardware

God of War: Ghost of Sparta: Ghost of Battles Past
Company: SCEA

C'mon... did you think God of War 3 would be really be the last time you'd see Kratos?

God of War: Ghost of Sparta, the follow-up to the excellent handheld Chains of Olympus, takes place between the original God of War and God of War II. Kratos may be at the top, but he's still searching for answers about his fate. Ghost of Sparta begins with an angry Kratos and, well, will end with one too. The game's story will expand on Kratos's backstory and show players why he's so pissed at the start of the second game (not that Kratos even needed a reason).

His quest takes him to Atlantis, though the journey is cut short when Kratos's fleet is attacked by a group of sea creatures led by Scylla, a beast with multiple tentacles protruding from its chest.

The demo kicks in during the heart of the attack. Tossed and turned by a wild storm, Kratos storms the deck of a ship to defend it from attack. The set-up is a familiar one, as is most of the game. Within seconds of the demo starting up, memories of many clashes immediately rushed back into focus.

Combat mechanics are exactly the same as previous games. Blades swinging wildly, orbs flying all over the place... it's everything you remember and developer Ready at Dawn has absolutely nailed every aspect of it, including the series' trademark Quick Time Events (QTE). QTE segments are as memorable (and violent) as ever, but more reminiscent to the ones in God of War 3. Button cues now appear around the perimeter of the screen, rather than one area, with positions corresponding to their positions on the controller. I wasn't a big fan of the switch in God of War 3, but it works here. The smaller screen definitely helps when trying to keep track of events.

Though the core mechanics trend towards the familiar, Ghost of Sparta tacks on a few additions. For example, Kratos can now pull off a "Hyperion Charge," a move that sends Kratos charging towards an enemy, tackling them to the ground. Once grounded, you can really rack up the damage with a few button presses or toss the enemy.

Ready at Dawn has also seen fit to give Kratos a few new toys as well. The Eye of Atlantis gives Kratos a devastating lighting attack that can quickly clear a room, or at least give a quick boost of damage when the Blades of Athena aren't enough. Another addition is a spear and shield. Though it seems like a small addition initially, the set brings a pretty big shift to combat. Unlike other weapons, which flowed naturally into combat combos, the shield and spear require a different approach.

Kratos can use the shield to block incoming attacks, but with a well-timed button press send projectiles back to their owner. The mechanic isn't much different from previous "shield" abilities, though placing it in tandem with a weapon creates a more fluid match. The matching spear is great in melee combat, but can also be thrown as a projectile.

Chains of Olympus is still, in my opinion, one of the best PSP games available and based on the demo, Ready at Dawn is well on its way to topping itself with Ghost of Sparta. As familiar as gameplay feels, it really seems like the developers are actively trying to push the concept as far as they can.

Look for a full review later this month.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker
Related Links:

This site best viewed in Internet Explorer 6 or higher or Firefox.