Video Game Review: ‘God of War: Ghost of Sparta’ Destroys Sony PSP Action Competition

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CHICAGO – With the best-selling “God of War III” still resonating like an almighty thunderclap that hit gamers barely over half a year ago, is it too soon for another adventure of one of the last decade’s most influential and important characters? And with the continuous decline in the number of interesting properties available for the Sony PSP, will “God of War: Ghost of Sparta” feel like an afterthought or an essential property in the Kratos canon? Video Game Rating: 4.5/5.0
Video Game Rating: 4.5/5.0

After the first hour or so of the 7-hour handheld title (a significant increase from the upsettingly-tiny previous PSP title, “God of War: Chains of Olympus”), I was convinced that “Ghost of Sparta” was nothing more than a B-side to the superior “God of War III.” At first, it just feels too overly familiar, reminding one that they just played a similar game although on a much-bigger scale and with more accomplished production values. Imagine seeing a handheld version of “Avatar” that cost half as much eight months after seeing the original. Oh, and you have to watch it on a tiny PSP screen.

God of War: Ghost of Sparta
God of War: Ghost of Sparta
Photo credit: Sony

The apathetic deja vu that I felt for the game slowly started to dissipate after about an hour and, by the time the game was approaching its final act, I couldn’t put it down. And when it concluded, I was struck with disappointment, not only that this title was over but that it could be the last on the PSP. The fact is that both “God of War” PSP games stand among the best for this incredibly-underutilized platform. The PSP never lived up to its potential and playing “Ghost of Sparta” one realizes what it could have been and might be with its recently-announced new incarnation.

God of War: Ghost of Sparta
God of War: Ghost of Sparta
Photo credit: Sony

“God of War: Ghost of Sparta” serves as a prequel to “God of War III.” If you’ve been wondering why Poseidon was so pissed at Kratos at the beginning of that game then you will wonder no more. In an interesting move, the storytelling of “Ghost of Sparta” feels more melancholy than the four previous games. There’s a deep sadness to this story of Kratos and the game has arguably the most compelling saga of the entire series.

The game takes place after the end of the first “God of War.” Kratos has taken the title from Ares but he’s haunted by a dark past and must undertake a remarkable journey to exorcise his own demons. Once again, he’s armed with the Blades of Athena (along with other weapons that become available throughout the game) and battling legendary mythic beasts like Cyclops, Minotaurs, and Medusas.

The combat of “God of War: Ghost of Sparta” — and anyone who’s ever played a “GoW” title can tell you that combat is king — has been refined with a few new elements to go along with the slash and dash of Kratos’ blades. The new components, including a shield, spear, and a variety of new moves, have been seamlessly integrated into what players know and love about the franchise and character. They never feel perfunctory or unnecessary. By the end, when you’re able to switch off magic attacks with various weapons and combo moves, it’s remarkably how fluid the whole combat system has become.

God of War: Ghost of Sparta
God of War: Ghost of Sparta
Photo credit: Sony

As for enemies, the game is simply more ambitious than “Chains of Olympus” with a much-wider variety of bad guys to destroy. Interestingly, this is the least puzzle-heavy “GoW” title. So, those of you who hated those rooms with the levers and blocks will be happy to know that this edition is much more combat-heavy, but not to a point where it doesn’t feel like a “GoW” game. I have to say that “Ghost of Sparta” feels like the easiest game in the franchise without many serious battles to get in your way (except for one in the middle of the title that nearly caused PSP destruction in my household and seems incorrectly amped-up). Even the final boss battle is a bit disappointing in its lack of difficulty. I’d be surprised if you died once on Normal difficulty.

Visually, “God of War: Ghost of Sparta” is one of the best-looking games in PSP history. Sony claims that it features “higher quality environments to offer visuals that have never been seen before on the PSP system” and I’m inclined to believe them. The title looks amazing. Of course, it’s not “God of War III”-amazing but it looks as good if not better than anything you’ve ever played on a PSP.

Where does this franchise go from here? If history tells us anything, it will likely go dormant for awhile, especially given the fact that “God of War III” closed out a storyline. Will it be done forever? No way. Franchises this successful don’t go out at the top of their game. And with two of the best action releases of the year in “God of War III” and “God of War: Ghost of Sparta,” the only thing to worry about is when we’ll get to hold Kratos’ blades again.

‘God of War: Ghost of Sparta’ was released by Sony and developed by Ready at Dawn. It is rated M (Mature). The title is exclusive to the Sony PSP. It will be released on November 2nd, 2010. content director Brian Tallerico

Content Director

David Smith's picture


Makes me want it!!!

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