Hands-on / God of War: Ghost of Sparta

You know what’s weird? I look at God of War: Ghost of Sparta and I start seeing much of what I thought about Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time in my review last year. I’m starting to wonder when we’ve had enough of God of War, despite how great the formula remains. Surely the series peaked with III, and how much more can they mix it up now?

Still, God of War is coming back to the PSP, and that’s a huge thing for the system. Chains of Olympus is a few years old now but still stands out as easily one of the best games on the device, matching the PS2 games in terms of graphics, action, and adventure. It was also the game that got me interested in the series, so it holds a special place in my heart. With this in mind I was still eager to give Ghost of Sparta a go at Gamescom in mind.

Long story short; this is another God of War on PSP. You’ve always known the series for first class action, graphics, and presentation and this hasn’t changed here. Ghost of Sparta is looking to offer yet another AAA entry in the series.

Our demo started with a showdown between the ever lovin’ Kratos and a new monster, the Scylla, a huge hulking boss that resides in the sea. As far as bosses go, this beast followed the pretty standard God of War pattern of throwing a set of attacks at us while we mixed up heavy and light hits until he fell over and the familiar circle popped up over his head for a button matching minigame.

Of all the stuff I saw in the demo, it was obvious God of War III had had the most influence on these quick-time events. The button prompts now appear on the side of the screen as they did with the PS3 entry, and the explicit gore has certainly been bumped up to contend with the HD screen. We won’t spoil what we saw Kratos do, but let’s just say it’s amazing that 5 games in and this series can still drop jaws.

Once the Scylla had been taught the meaning of pain (not that we’d seen the last of him), we got back into the meat and potatoes of God of War gameplay. The basic combat is still as fun and flexible as ever; combos flow perfectly as you throw in a few light hits and bring the blades of chaos down on top of your poor foes. Plus new enemies like a giant 4 armed-ball holding thing kept us on our toes.

Of course as happy as we were to discover the formula remained intact, we also wanted to find more new stuff to get excited about. This mainly came in the form of a new magic attack, the Eye of Atlantis that shoots a continuous stream of lightning at your enemies. It was certainly one of the more useful attacks to grace Kratos’ arsenal; blowing back foes with ease and look pretty slick while doing it. We’re really looking forward to what developer Ready at Dawn can bring in terms of new weapons and magic to this adventure and the Eye of Atlantis is a promising start.

You’ve probably also heard this in every other preview/review of every other God of War game ever but it also looks phenomenal. Our level was set in sprawling ruins that were being drenched with rain, a real treat for the eyes. Kratos himself looked as good as ever, with a slight bit more detail to him than CoO as he whipped his weapons around the screen.

We didn’t get to see much more of the game past the initial boss battle, but there were some classic block pushing puzzles thrown into the mix too, all of which made for your expected God of War experience.

The question about Ghost of Sparta really is just if you want more God of War; because that’s what you’re getting, a straight up, true to form entry in the series for the fifth time in a row. If that’s good enough for you then look forward to the game’s release in November.

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