In as many years, Ready at Dawn’s God of War: Ghost of Sparta is the fifth game in the God of War series. This is the second PSP exclusive in the franchise (Chains of Olympus being the previous, also developed by Ready at Dawn). As a series, God of War has gained mileage from its main character Kratos. Kratos has become an enduring figure who could fit as well into the classic Greek pantheon as he has modern gaming. Ghost of Sparta’s presentation and finely tuned accessible hack and slash gameplay go a long way to endear what might otherwise have just been another familiar entry into the popular Playstation series.
Ghost of Sparta takes place between the first and second game. After killing Ares, and being elevated to the status of the series’ titular deity, Kratos is still haunted by his past. Visions of his forgotten brother Deimos plague his memory. He seeks answers that take him across varied locales such as Atlantis, Sparta, and even the Realm of Death itself. The story is arguably stronger than this year’s God of War III mainly because of the additional insight into Kratos’ character which helps players understand how he became the bloodthirsty anti-hero that has endeared him to so many fans over the past five years.
What may be the most impressive aspect of Ghost of Sparta is that its presentation offsets any potential ennui one may experience while playing yet another God of War game. Fans should know what to expect by now. It’s hack and slash thrills are accessible, its controls are sharp and responsive, and the violence is visceral and cathartic. The graphics are
most likely the best yet seen on the PSP. Minor adjustments, such as the addition of fire to the Blades of Athena, make the gameplay even more satisfying.
What has aided the legacy of the God of War games has been its perfect marriage of story and gameplay. Every action you perform as Kratos is indicative of his character. For example to kill a major enemy early in the game the player must use a large pneumatic drill held in place to prevent a volcano from erupting and destroying a nearby city. Kratos of course cares not for the anguish that befalls the city’s inhabitants, and you are made to be accountable. This is a benefit which only a linear game such as Ghost of Sparta can provide. Ghost of Sparta manages to impress in spite of its familiarity. The gameplay, while not revolutionary, is as solid as ever. Its focus on fleshing out Kratos’ character makes it essential for any fan of the franchise.