Ghost of Sparta is a competent God of War title but everything about it is simply brilliant

User Rating: 9 | God of War: Ghost of Sparta PSP
+ Phenomenal visuals and jaw-dropping sense of scale
+ Combat is still great and exciting
+ Some of the best music, in any game

- Basic combat is largely unchanged
- Camera could be closer at least for combat

Through its five years from the original God of War till the latest iteration, Ghost of Sparta, the series hasn't evolved much. Such a rare case it is that a series needs little evolution as this world-class series. God of War always offers fast-paced and gory combat, some of the best visuals and sense of scale of any game and perfectly fitting music. The second PSP game for the series follows the series in its footsteps, and despite its usual annoyances, it is still one of the finest PSP titles.

Set between the first and second God of War games, just after Kratos had become the God of War, a haunting vision of his past where Kratos' brother, Deimos was taken away by Athena and Ares, the latter believing the marked warrior that would bring the Olympian's destruction to be Deimos, imprisons him in death's domain. Now, in this installment Kratos sets out to find and rescue his younger brother. The story gives an insight on Kratos' past and why he is so angry at the gods along with a few touching moments. While the game comes with some times that doesn't fully explain why Kratos is going where, the story itself is good and is competent for the five hours it lasts on the first two difficulties.

If you have ever played a God of War game before, you'll feel right at home. The combat and gameplay structures are largely the same. The usage of the 'Blade of Athena' is almost the same as before, with the new addition being the secondary weapon, the 'Arms of Sparta' consisting of a spear and a shield and the new magic types, which are activated with the up, left and right arrow buttons, with the down button left to switch between the two weapons. The combat system still offers terrific and straightforward, gory combat with upgrades and the repetition and easiness that comes with it. The dodging remains a tricky part, with the use of the L and R simultaneously is not quite as effective or handy as it should be due to the PSP controls. The gameplay sections are divided between closed-area combat, puzzles, exploration and platforming. The puzzles are an interesting diversion from the combat and none feel out of place or too difficult. The platforming is identical from previous installments but it still works well, like climbing or jumping. Now, holding the R button activates a special meter that sets the 'Blade of Athena' on 'fire' allowing you to deal more damage and destroy enemy's armor or obstacles. This meter can be increases in length by Minotaur Horns, like how you obtain Gorgon Eyes and Phoenix Feathers to increase Health and Magic found in treasure chests.

A problem from 'Chains of Olympus' was the game's camera, which was further away than it should be, but that was due to the PSP's small screen. This inevitable issue is still present, but the further the camera goes, the easiest it becomes to admire the outstanding landscape. The problem now mostly is in combat's camera. The camera is not zoomed in enough on the tiny Kratos and can make combat feel more button-mashing than it already is. For most of the time, the camera doesn't hinder your enjoyment at all, but there one particular problem that arises when in a closed area and Kratos moves to the upper part of this area, the camera hides the enemies on the opposite side of the area. Against a certain human sized boss, this is quite a frustrating issue and the attacks on this boss don't feel quite as affliction. Kratos' swings are wide and it never feels you're actually hitting him. The big bosses are fantastic though and this installment offers new position for the quick-time event buttons that are now found on each side of the rectangular screen.

What steal the show are the visuals and Ghost of Sparta is downright one of the most visually stunning game on the PSP. The original, 'Chains of Olympus' looked truly outstanding, but Ghost of Sparta has actually improved the visuals to new heights. The distant scenery, erupting volcanoes and mountains look truly amazing, but even the regular rooms and environments are an incredible sight to behold, and the lighting of the games is as realistic as it can possibly get. The dramatic soundtrack, as usual, fits perfectly and again it is one of the best soundtracks in any game, and the voice acting is terrific without faults. Ghost of Sparta's presentation is top-notch and the integration between gameplay and the wonderful cinematics is seamless. On a side note, the final scene has a non-combat gameplay sequence, terrific use of lighting and perfectly fitting music that suits the moment perfectly, marking it one of the most memorable moments in the game.

After finishing the game, there are plenty of unlockables; an arena where you are free to choose your enemies and difficulty, the Temple of Zeus which unlocks new content by sacrificing orbs and the Challenges mode after the main story. Dismissing Ghost of Sparta as more of the same is like convicting an innocent man. It's not perfect, but the visuals simply can't get any better than this and everything the game does fit perfectly under the God of War franchise. Ghost of Sparta is yet another remarkable God of War game and a superb PSP game in every respect that rarely fails to deliver what we have come to expect from this over-the-top series.


Graphics = 9.8
This is the best looking PSP title I've seen thus far. Some environments look a bit dull, but the sense of scale is of epic standard.

Sound = 9.6
The soundtrack is perfect for this game and the voice acting is great despite the repeated lines.

Presentation = 9.2
Camera causes some minor combat issues, but the rest makes this an incredible package.

Gameplay = 8.7
It's the same God of War as we've come to know it. The combat system is solid, straightforward and slightly repetitive. Puzzles are a good diversion along with the bosses. The difficulty accommodates everyone.

Story = 8.6
A memorable story that fits well as a side-story. The story lasts around 5 to 6 hours, but the extra content serves for a few hours for dedicated fans.

Overall = 91 / 100
Ghost of Sparta is a competent God of War title but everything about it is simply brilliant