In 2008 the Ready At Dawn Studios team created what is currently the highest rated PSP game of all-time on Metacritic, God of War: Chains of Olympus. That classic game will soon be moving down a spot as the upcoming God of War: Ghost of Sparta should easily surpass its predecessor.
Ghost of Sparta picks up where we left off after the original PS2 God of War. Ares is dead and Kratos has taken over as the God of War. Kratos now embarks on a journey to search for his long lost brother, Deimos, who was kidnapped by Ares and Athena when they were children. What transpires from there is a very bloody story of epic proportions.
Aside from the amazing story, what sets God of War apart from other games is the amazing sense of scale you feel while venturing through the game. In this adventure, Kratos travels to Atlantis, the Isle of Crete and many other beautiful locales. While the game is very linear by design, there is always the feeling that there is a much larger world around you.
Ghost of Sparta plays just like all the other games in the God of War series. Strings of combinations from Kratos’ weapons are achieved using the face buttons, while changing weapons and powers are controlled by the D-Pad.
One of the many improvements over Chains of Olympus is that now during quick time events, of which there are many, rather than the necessary button showing up in the center of the screen, it now shows up relative to the button on the controller. For example, when you need to press Triangle, it will show up at the top of the screen, Square at the left of the screen and so on. This makes it much easier to register and execute which button needs to be pressed, and it lets you view the cinematic without the center of the screen being overlaid with a large button symbol.
Another new addition is the Fire Meter that corresponds with Thera’s Bane. This power sets the Blades of Athena on fire, thus allowing them to do more damage and break through boulders. The Fire Meter can be upgraded by finding minotaur horns, the same way health and magic is upgraded with gorgon eyes and phoenix feathers.
As you play through God of War: Ghost of Sparta, you will definitely need to find those upgrades. While there are a good amount of power and magic orb boxes along the way, when a battle starts, you need to be prepared to fight. Being attacked by four or more enemies at a time is frequent, though with the proper moves, Kratos will cut through them with ease. Racking up 50-100 hit combos can be a breeze during an intense battle.
With the good spacing of power and magic orb boxes comes an even better spacing of save points. Rather than being able to save whenever you want during the game, you can only save at certain points. While that can seem limiting, the save points are spread out nicely and you never feel like its been to long since you last saved.
Coming in between five and seven hours of gameplay, you’ll likely be doing a lot of saving. This is the perfect length for a hack and slash handheld game. The story of Ghost of Sparta will keep you moving forward and it never feels like you’re just killing enemies just for the sake of it in a repetitious manner.
Any longer and I feel the game could have started to drag on and the structure as it stands, allows the latest God of War to feel like a perfectly cut together movie. Every step of the game leaves you wanting more, but at the end, you are completely satisfied.
Playing this leaves you with the re-occurring feeling that there needs to be a God of War movie created. Even after completing Ghost of Sparta, I want to sit down and just watch through the game again. The story has all the twists and turns of any Hollywood blockbuster and it’s only a matter of time until Kratos makes the jump to the big screen.
Speaking of Hollywood, credit must be given to Academy Award winner Linda Hunt. You may remember her as Billy Kwan in The Year of Living Dangerously or in her current role as Hetty Lange on NCIS: Los Angeles. She has narrated the entire God of War series and really deserves credit for her role in this game. While a narrator’s voice can ruin a story if it done poorly, Hunt’s voice brings you deeper into the world, and makes you feel like you are truly a part of it.
This is truly the best PSP game to date and the story is one of the best in video games. Ready At Dawn has seemingly tapped all the power and potential of the PSP. There might not be any power left to make a better game.
If there is a PSP2 on the horizon, I hope they are prepared to continue Kratos’ story on the handheld.
Ghost of Sparta is rated “M” for mature, and it earns that rating. This game is very bloody and there are a fair about of nudity. If you are a parent, you need to respect the rating and not purchase this game if you don’t think your child can handle it. If you are of age and own a PSP, you need to buy this game.
To not have this game in your collection would be a travesty. Not only does it fill the needs of a God of War fan, but also hack and slash fans, action adventure fans, and fans of video games in general.
God of War: Ghost of Sparta will be available exclusively for the PSP on Tuesday, November 2nd.