God of War: Ghost of Sparta User Review
The Graphics in the game are superb. Chains of Olympus seemed to push the PSP system to new heights and this one does it again. Ready at Dawn really knows how to work with the PSP hardware. I think Kratos’ polygon count is higher and the environments are alive. The oceans move and the lava pours. The colors are vibrant and the animations are smooth. It’s hard to believe Ready at Dawn managed to squeeze more juice out of the PSP. This is one of the best looking PSP titles to date. It rivals Kojima’s gem Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker in terms of graphics fidelity. That’s not to say it isn’t without some problems. The frame rate can struggle a tad bit when there are more than six or so enemies on screen and there is a very small amount of screen tearing. When watching the trailers I noticed the tearing was pretty bad but Ready at Dawn managed to fix it to the point that it isn’t noticeable unless you’re really looking for it. And this is coming from me(I hate tearing). Even with these minor flaws though, the graphics really stand out and none of them hinder game play in anyway.
The game play is largely the same as any other God of War which is great. They changed a few things as they tend to do with each installment. L1 Circle performs a charge and tackle move which allows you to ground and pound your enemies. There are also new magic items to acquire such as the Scourge of Erinys which allows you release a power “no God or mortal should ever wield”. It engulfs your enemies in a black orb which pulls enemies in close proximity together much like a magnet allowing you to gain the upper hand on a group of enemies. You will also acquire an ability called Thera’s Bane which allows you to engulf Kratos’ Blades of Athena in fire which works out well when you are over whelmed by enemies. This causes more damage and is key to fighting certain enemies to break their defenses.
Now my favorite addition to the game play is the Arms of Sparta. This is the traditional Spartan shield and spear we saw featured in the film 300. This allows Kratos to use projectiles more freely by throwing his spear and also allows you to move while guarding with the shield. When you upgrade these bad boys it yields great benefits like being able to rain down spears upon your enemies and being able to charge a group of enemies bearing your shield as a battering ram. I loved those spears and shields in 300 and it’s great to finally see them in a God of War game as they seemed to be the Spartans weapons of choice.
As with Chains of Olympus or any God of War, the sound is great. The voice acting is top notch. The music is reminiscent of the other titles(which isn’t a bad thing) and the sound of the weapons clanging together or cutting into your enemies is satisfying. Kratos’ voice is the same Kratos from the other games and so is the narrator (Gia). Both do just as good of a job as they do in other titles. Unfortunately a drawback is the PSP speakers don’t do the sound justice. It’s best to play the game with a nice set of headphones or ear buds. My only other complaint is they didn’t retain that rumble they added in III when Kratos’ blades slam down on the ground. It was so satisfying hearing the ground rumble while laying waste to your foes.
The controls are exactly the same as they were in Chains of Olympus which is a good thing and a slightly bad thing. Since there is no second analog stick Ready at Dawn uses the L and R buttons in combination with the one stick for dodging. I don’t mind the set up so much as I do mind the animation taking too long to recover from a dodge. It seems like it takes a second longer than it should to stand up after dodging an enemies attack. Far too often do I successfully roll out of harms way only to get hit by another enemy while Kratos recovers from his roll. I don’t remember ever having this problem in the other God of War games. Only in Chains of Olympus and Ghost of Sparta. My only other complaint with the game play is there is no way to switch from weapon to weapon in a smooth transition mid combo like in God of War III. It would have been nice to see them retain that feature as it allowed you to perform cool combos and switch weapons on the fly.
Thankfully the rest of the game play is rock solid God of War goodness. With the addition of the Arms of Sparta (mentioned above), the game play remains solid and now a bit more refreshing. What’s great about God of War is Sony Santa Monica and Ready at Dawn find new ways to make the combat feel familiar yet new. There are some decent puzzles in the game but nothing mind boggling. Most consist of moving a block here and flipping a switch there but over all they remain interesting but not overly satisfying. The boss fights have improved over Chains of Olympus. You can tell Ready at Dawn learned some new tricks with the camera angles from Sony Santa Monica about how to present scale and intensity in these boss fights. The quick time events are as fun and exciting as ever. Much of what was new in God of War III is used again in Ghost of Sparta which isn’t a bad as I loved the direction and presentation of III most of all.
I haven’t yet finished the game 100%. I am very close and I already want to play it again. I wish the game had trophies so I could platinum it. I didn’t feel this way with Chains of Olympus. One I was done with Chains of Olympus, I had no burning desire to go back to it right away like I do this title. Ghost of Sparta has many items to collect that can be used to your benefit in a second play through. Other than that there isn’t a whole lot to do your second time around except kick more ass. But the fact that game is so much better than its previous PSP installment and feels eerily similar to God of War III(my favorite of the series), it’s making me want to replay it again once I am completely done with it. I am the type to replay my single player games many times and often if they are fun enough and have enough great moments to make me want to see them again. And this one does.
All in all, if you’re a PSP owner and a fan of God of War, there really is no reason not to buy this game. It’s easily one of the better ones in the series and is packed with loads of the action, giant monsters and wicked combos we’ve come to expect from a solid franchise like God of War. If you own a PSP, go buy this game. That’s an order Spartan! 
This user review does not reflect the views of the PSX Extreme Staff.