Saturday, January 8, 2011

God of War: Ghost of Sparta

File:GOW Ghost of Sparta boxart.jpg

Let me start by saying that I am a huge fan of the God of War games. Every game thus far has been satisfying to play and, despite whatever flaws each game may have, even minor ones, the series has managed to remain as epic as ever. Naturally, due to my love of the franchise, I was really excited to hear about the latest installment, God of War: Ghost of Sparta, for the PSP. After playing, I can tell you that this is by far one of the best PSP games yet.

This game's story takes place between the original God of War and it's sequel, more specifically before the events of the mobile game, God of War: Betrayal. Kratos, the new God of War, is still haunted by the visions of his past, as seen at the end of the first game. Because of these memories, he decides it's time to explore his past, thinking of his long lost brother Deimos. In his journey, he makes it his goal to find out what happened to him. As you advance in the story, you come across some new Greek mythological figures and Deities. These include, but are not limited to, Thanatos, the God of Death; and King Midas.

There are also some new powers and weapons you gain to aid you in your quest, such as the ability to set your Blades of Athena on fire with Thera's Bane for more power in your attacks. Fortunately, this new power comes with it's own Fire Meter, placed underneath the Health and Magic Meters. This way, you can use it whenever you feel like it without having to worry about draining your Magic, which includes the ability to shoot lightning with the Eye of Atlantis, generate voids with the Scourge of Erinys, and freeze enemies with the Horn of Boreas. In addition to these powers, you also obtain a new weapon, the Arms of Sparta, which allows you to defend against large attacks and throw spears at distant enemies.

On the visual side, the look of ancient Greece feels like a real expansion on the game's world, using an amazing contrast of warm and cool colors to keep you interested. The architecture keeps with the Greek aesthetic rather nicely, making every location believable upon sight with the amount of detail they were able to put in. The cut-scenes are equally beautiful to observe, with a sort of quality that actually comes somewhere close to the PS3. These aspects are complemented perfectly by a soundtrack that only adds even more epicness to the events on-screen, using a familiar-sounding choir that doesn't seem to get old.

The gameplay for this installment, like the visuals, was also handled really well. Those that have played previous entries should be familiar with how it works, with a few tweaks taken from God of War III, such as having to look all around the screen during Quick-Time Events.

The only main concern I ran into while playing, however, was the shoulder buttons. Since there are only two at your disposal and only one analog stick, it carries over the mapping from the previous handheld entry, Chains of Olympus, in that you have to press both buttons at the same time in order to dodge. Half the time I did this, I ended up draining my Fire Meter whenever I didn't time it right. Aside from that, I felt everything was mapped perfectly to the system.

This game is a real must-have for any God of War fan. It is amazing, in many areas, that the PSP is capable of what Ghost of Sparta presents. Like every entry before it, Ghost of Sparta pushes the limits of its system to the highest, even surpassing Chains of Olympus, making for a mind-blowing experience.

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