Oh, brother where art thou? In Hell, you say? Well I had better slay every man, beast and God that stands in my way to rescue him then. God of War is back on the PSP in the form of Ghost of Sparta and it looks to test the capabilities of the handheld so hard that it threatens to rip it apart like one of Kratos’ many enemies. But does GOS push the series in any new directions or has the GOW started to stagnate after the recent PS3 epic?
The reason your brother Deimos is missing is because Ares (the original God of War) and Zeus were warned that Olympus would fall to a marked warrior but, rather foolishly, they grabbed the wrong brother. This means Kratos is now even angrier and will stop at nothing to get his brother back and then take down Olympus (as seen in GOW III). It still feels rather strange that no mention of Deimos was made before but the story works well and actually fits in with the whole storyline. I have a brother myself & it’s a subject area I always enjoy exploring and hasn’t been touched on by a great deal of other titles.
The game play is as solid as you would expect from a GOW game, the Blades of Athena are as brilliant as ever allowing you to chain large combos together with ease. Magic is activated via the d-pad which is a bit of a finger twister as you are unable to aim the Eye of Atlantis at the same time as casting. The other spells fail to have the impact and feel pretty useless in comparison, Scourge of Erinys was somewhat useful with large crowds but Horn of Boreas was practically unneeded. I found myself relying on the Eye of Atlantis and Thera’s Bane which requires holding R1 and makes your normal attacks stronger. As this recharges quickly like the bow or Helio’s head from 3, I found myself constantly using it unless I was waiting for the bar to fill again. There is only 1 other weapon, Arms of Sparta, but as you don’t get to keep it all game it’s hard to recommend building it up. It does however introduce a new mechanic not seen in the series before as it’s a spear and shield you are able to move whilst blocking.
Combat is broken up with a few puzzles but more often via action scenes and platforming (it took me some time to get used to no Icarus wings!). These involving escaping collapsing structures or swimming and negotiating timed obstacles with quick time events. Unfortunately there was one moment where you literally had to press ‘X’ not to die and it comes completely out of nowhere with little time to react, fortunately the checkpoint is immediately before it happened, which minimalised the frustration. On the whole GOS does a good job of always making it clear where to head next and never feeling like you’ve got lost.
Ghost of Sparta maintains the epicness which is standard of the GOW series with big boss fights culminating in typical gruesome deaths and large vistas that look very impressive on the handheld platform. They have even managed to increase the amount of enemies on screen, which greatly the playing experience compared to Chains of Olympus and adding more variety. The story is engaging and friendly to new entrants of the series as it works in a standalone context, a feat you can’t say often about sequels this far into a series. GOS is another epic entry into the GOW series and does the PSP proud, it may not take Kratos in many new directions it does add the odd new gimmick though which are greatly appreciated. It’ll be interesting to see where Sony takes the series next; in fact you could say the same about the PSP as this seems likely to be its last AAA title.
A copy of God Of War: Ghost of Sparta was supplied to ps3blog.net by SCEE for reviewing purposes. The single player campaign was completed on medium, all Challenge Rooms were played and the “love” scene was tested thoroughly.
This review is based on a retail copy of the PS3 version of God Of War: Ghost of Sparta provided by SCEE.
Written by: Trev
- Contributing Editor