While the Sony PSP has had its ups and its downs, most people can agree that one the few shining examples of great game design on the system is God of War: Chains of Olympus. Not only has it been heralded as one of the best PSP games released, it’s also considered by many to be one of the best God of War games to date.
It should come as no shock then that Ready at Dawn Studios is back to bring Kratos to the small screen one more time in God of War: Ghost of Sparta. Being a huge God of War fan myself, I knew I had to get my hands on the game at E3 to see if this was really an adventure worth embarking on. Now that I’ve washed the blood off my hands after the long 15 minute demo, I’m ready to tell you all about it.
God of War: Ghost of Sparta takes place right after the original game on the PS2 ends, and takes players on Kratos’s journey to seize the thrown of Ares and become the God of War. At the beginning of the demo, Kratos is on a boat on his way to the City of Atlantis, surrounded by enemies who want nothing less than to kill him. Sounds like a typical day in the life of a God killer to me.
After dispatching the easy foes, the ship is immediately attacked by a large Kraken-like sea creature. As the combat moves from the ship to land, and eventually to the actual City of Atlantis itself, this over-grown squid constantly remains a thorn in Kratos’s side that needs to be dealt with. The entire demo essentially teeter-totters back and forth between fighting regular enemies and small bosses, to fighting the Kraken. If you’ve played any other God of War game you’ll be very used to this style of level design.
Actually, if you’ve ever played any God of War game at all you’ll feel right at home playing Ghost of Sparta. From what I can gather, it perfectly mimics the God of War formula and fits in into a bit sized package with short levels and lots of save points that makes it perfect for on-the-go gaming. Ready at Dawn Studios created something wonderful with Chains of Olympus, so why ruin a good thing right.
That’s not to say that everything is the same, as in my short playthrough I did see a couple new features exclusive to this game. The first is the addition of a new spear and shield weapon, which can be selected by pushing down on the d-pad. While the weapon itself might seem kind of plain and boring, things get more interesting when you try and block.
From what I can tell, the spear and shield is the first weapon you can attack with while blocking. The attack itself is very similar to the sort of spear/shield attacks seen in movies like 300 and Troy. Now when you actually attack you do move the shield slightly away, so you can be hit, but it’s still nice to have the option to immediately jump out of your blocking stance and attack.
Another new benefit of the spear/shield weapon is “shield mode”, which is entered by holding the R-button. When in this mode you can actually throw spears at enemies, which I believe makes this the first long distance weapon in a God of War game that doesn’t require magic to use. This is something I’ve always felt the series needs, and I don’t know why it’s taken this long to get it.
The game also features a new magic attack, called the “Eye of Atlantis”. This special attack fires a concentrated stream of lightening in any direction, which can be redirected on the fly to hit moving targets. As in other GoW games, this magic attack can be upgraded, as can the spear/shield weapon. While there are sure to be more new weapons and magic attacks in the final game, these are all that were shown in the demo I played.
Besides the new stuff I just mentioned, Ghost of Sparta played exactly like Chains of Olympus, which is not a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination. The graphics, music, and sound effects were on par with the previous game, and the controls were an almost perfect match, which means you still need to use the analog nub. Hopefully that won’t bother you too much.
As far as I can tell, God of War: Ghost of Sparta is on track to be another great addition to the series, as long as fans aren’t looking for something radically new. I get the feeling that they’ll be happy to just get another good PSP game that makes the system worth owning. In either case, keep your browser pointed to Gamer Limit as we are sure to have a review of the game up as soon as it ships this holiday season.