hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Review: God of War: Ghost of Sparta

1:33 PM on 10.25.2010 // Nick Chester

Tricky folks, developer Ready at Dawn and Sony Computer Entertainment. After completing God of War: Chains of Olympus for the PlayStation Portable in 2008, the former very publicly claimed it was done with development on Sony’s handheld. The latter released God of War III earlier in the year, calling it the final chapter in the God of War trilogy, leading many to believe it would be the last we’d see of series protagonist, Kratos. 

Tricky folks, developer Ready at Dawn and Sony Computer Entertainment. After completing God of War: Chains of Olympus for the PlayStation Portable in 2008, the former very publicly claimed it was done with development on Sony’s handheld. The latter released God of War III earlier in the year, calling it the final chapter in the God of War trilogy, leading many to believe it would be the last we’d see of series protagonist, Kratos. 

Yet here we are with God of War: Ghost of Sparta, and whether this deceit was intentional or simply a matter of confused messaging, it’s irrelevant. Ghost of Sparta is arguably one of the best third-person action titles of the year, and one of Kratos’ finest adventures yet. {{page_break}}
God of War: Ghost of Sparta (PlayStation Portable)
Developer: Ready at Dawn
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Releases date: November 5, 2010

Price: $39.99
While Ghost of Sparta takes place between the events of the original God of War and its sequel, it’s probably best for fans to look at it as somewhat of an origins story. While God of War III did a decent job of wrapping up the trilogy, many questions were left unanswered, with scores of events the series had alluded to largely unaddressed. Ghost of Sparta largely remedies that, focusing on the Spartan roots of Kratos, diving into his childhood relationship with his brother (torn from his family at a young age), as well as his mother. 
Longtime fans of the series are in for a treat, with many gaps filled and plenty of “ah hah!” moments and reveals spread throughout. Ghost of Sparta also feels like the most intimate tale in the series, humanizing Kratos in ways previously only hinted at in earlier games.
Story aside, most players will pop this UMD into their PSP for brutal, third-person combat and stunning, over-the-top action. Predictably, Ready at Dawn delivers on all fronts. Gameplay wise, Ghost of Sparta sticks to a familiar formula, and veterans of the series will have no problems picking up the PSP and getting Kratos right into the thick of action. Many of Kratos’ melee attacks and combos are on hand, with a few satisfying additions thrown in for good measure. The “Hyperion Charge,” a running tackle that has Kratos leveling and mounting smaller enemies for vicious MMA-style pummeling, is of particular note. 
New weapons, items, and magic make the cut, a few changing up gameplay in minor but gratifying ways. The Arms of Sparta is a shield and spear combination that Kratos can use in melee combat to keep enemies at a distance, as a ranged weapon, or even to guard against incoming hazards. Thera’s Bane adds flames to Kratos’ Blades of Athena, which you’ll be able to ignite by holding the right trigger, a new red meter (which recharges when not in used) added to the game’s HUD to limit use.
Interestingly, while the focus of the games has always been combat, Ghost of Sparta has players spending quite a bit of time traversing the game’s massive environments. More than any other God of War title, it seems I spent a lot of time climbing walls, jumping from ropes, or swinging on hook points using the Blades of Athena. Certainly, the combat to platforming ratio is skewed in favor of violent, gut-wrenching action, and with the addition of the prerequisite massive boss battles, it’s as entertaining as ever. Still, there was a surprising amount of down time between the hostilities during this particular journey.  
It should also be mentioned that while the God of War series was never one for taxing the cerebrum, puzzle elements have mostly been removed entirely from the game. Pushing a block into place for use in accessing a platform or breaking an object to move forward is about as “puzzle-y” as Ghost of Sparta gets. Those looking for anything more will be disappointed, but the action is simply so gratifyingly ferocious that most will find they won’t be missing the environmental riddles. 
After experiencing the optical orgasm of God of War III earlier in the year, you’d think seeing Kratos rendered as anything less would be underwhelming, but that’s not an issue here. Like Ready at Dawn’s previous PSP God of War title, Ghost of Sparta pushes the PSP to new limits technically. It’s by far the best looking game on the platform, nearly rivaling the PlayStation 2’s God of War II, considered one of the most visually impressive titles on its platform. It helps that Ready at Dawn’s artists have painted spectacular environments and crafted solid character designs. Kratos has also been given a subtle makeover, with a more angular, dogged look than in earlier games. The end result is that when looking at the game in action, it’s easy to forget you’re playing it on a handheld. 
Ghost of Sparta also packs more game onto the UMD than Chains of Olympus, with the average gamer probably squeezing about 10 hours of gamplay time on the game’s average difficulty. This doesn’t include the additional modes, like the ball-busting “Challenge of the Gods” and a customizable “Combat Arena” for those just looking to let off some steam. There is also plenty of bonus content to be unearthed in the Temple of Zeus, which houses a number of unlockables in the way of “orbs.” These orbs are pricey, too, costing thousands of red orbs that fortunately carry over from defeating enemies in other game modes. I hadn’t scratched the surface of these goodies before putting down the game, and can imagine more than a few extra hours going towards obtaining everything the game has to offer. 
In many ways Ghost of Sparta feels like a love letter to fans, a surprising treat for folks who’ve followed the series since its outset. It also feels like one of the tightest games in the series, with a satisfying, revealing narrative that a few of the games in the series has lacked. By releasing two God of War games in one year, Sony ran the risk of fatiguing even the most faithful supporters. But if the games continue to feel and look this good, two God of War games a year doesn’t sound like such a bad proposition. 
Score: 9

Nick Chester, Former Editor-in-Chief (2011)
 Follow Blog + disclosure Tips
Editor-in-Chief @ nick at  more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our moderators, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

Status updates from C-bloggers

Cosmonstropolis avatarCosmonstropolis
Still waiting by the mailbox. Tranq'd a jogger and stuffed them into a locker just for fun. I keep throwing rocks to get the attention of the neighbors and then hiding in tall grass. They look noticeably upset. Probably because I kept them up all night.
ChillyBilly avatarChillyBilly
Metal Gear or Mad Max? The choice is obvious. [IMG][/IMG]
Jiraya avatarJiraya
Quickpostmortem My wife´s dog died yesterday . Rest in peace Diamond Dog . [img][/img] Here's to you, Malu Rest forever here in our hearts The last and final moment is yours That agony is your triumph
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
Xbone journey continues! I thought I would like Dead Rising 3 well enough as a huge fan of 1/2, but I must say I find it's emphasis on hard drama laughable and the game fundamentally disingenuine. Guess I'm moving on to Forza Horizon 2.
TheDefenestrator avatarTheDefenestrator
I dig the feature in Until Dawn where, if you have the Playstation camera, it will record you briefly during jump scares for you to watch later. It's a really neat use of an underused peripheral. Too bad I'm dead inside and never react to them.
Shinta avatarShinta
nanashi avatarnanashi
Fallout Shelter: Impossible to Learn, Easy to Master.
Mike Wallace avatarMike Wallace
Not saying this is the case, but Kojima has gone on record as being a huge Mad Max: Fury Road fan. Konami decided to release MGSV on the same day as Mad Max TVG. They're trying piss on Kojima's lawn, man.
ooktar avatarooktar
Downloading Phantom Pain. ETA, 16 hours. Just in time for lunch tomorrow.
Mr Knives avatarMr Knives
OH WOW. Talk about a complete about face. After slogging through the horrid beginning and slow ass swap sequence this game picked up exponentially. So far, I'm enjoying the hell out of it now. All if forgiven. Thank you based Kojima.
Rad Party God avatarRad Party God
Oh, joyful night. [youtube][/youtube]
techsupport avatartechsupport
After a summer of on-and-off casual play, I've finally reached lv. 34 in Destiny :')
nanashi avatarnanashi
also Fallout Shelter just made me utter this: "I have to get these pregnancies done.." life is trivial in this game!
Mr Knives avatarMr Knives
Let it be known that Metal Gear 2 for MXS has aged horribly and is no fun to play. In the midst of a MGS marathon, looks like I'm skipping ahead to MGS.
Rad Party God avatarRad Party God
"Available: 31 August - This game will unlock in approximately 2 hours" HOLY SHIET! [youtube][/youtube]
nanashi avatarnanashi
-nudge nudge- hey Sony, discount Ys: I and II Chronicles and Ys: Seven on the PSP :D
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
Just out of curiosity, does anybody here still play Mario Kart 8 at all frequently?
Cosmonstropolis avatarCosmonstropolis
Neighbors ended up calling the cops. I hid under a cardboard box. Police officers were perplexed but went back to their patrol routes after a minute or so.
techsupport avatartechsupport
!a new MGS: Ground Zeroes update file auto dl'd and installed..the day prior to MGSV... hmm.. coincidence? OR... coincidence?
GoofierBrute avatarGoofierBrute
Just got an email from Nintendo saying that my Club Nintendo reward has been shipped and is on its way. Now it's the end of an era. *pours one out for Club Nintendo*
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -