Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Ready At Dawn Studios
ESRB Rating: Mature
Release date: Available now
God of War is one of the most gory, gratuitously violent game series I’ve ever seen. In an industry driven by scantily clad fan-service (male or female) and trying to force as much carnage into one screen as possible, that says a lot. The original God of War came out back in 2005 and the mayhem hasn’t stopped since. God of War: Ghost of Sparta tells of what happened between God of War and God of War II.
Having bested Ares and taken his place as the God of War, Kratos is haunted by visions and memories. Following them despite Athena’s urging against it, Kratos discovers his mother is still alive in Atlantis and in her dying breaths, she reveals that Kratos’ brother lives as well. Trapped in Death’s Domain, tortured by Thanatos, Deimos was kidnapped by Ares as a child because of a prophecy that the end of Olympus would come at the hands of a marked warrior rather than the Titans.
Ghost of Sparta plays like its predecessors, though I have to say the overall feel is much smoother than the previous PSP installment. Filled with the blood and gore we’ve come to expect, it makes only a few small tweaks to the system. Thera’s Bane, for instance, is a rage-like feature, imbuing Kratos’ blades with flames while the bar regenerates by itself when not in use. An enhanced combat system comes with plenty of new and unique finishing blows, including a combat rush feature to slam enemies into the ground or throw them and various extra weapons with full skill trees.
I suppose as a woman, I should be insulted by the sheer amount of gratuitous violence and female nudity, but I just had too much fun. The combat flowed nicely, rarely if ever slowing down until the last enemy onscreen was left in a pool of its own blood. Huge bosses, with their own individual timed button moves, were both terrifying and engaging, more than living up to what the series has done in the past. The new combat magics and unique finishers that go with them make every enemy an enjoyably new experiment in slaughter.
I can’t hold much against the series. Some would call it redundant, but each installment is fresh, and Ghost of Sparta is no different. Rather than feeling like a forced spin-off, it fleshes out parts of the story between the main games and sets the stage nicely for the events of God of War 2 and beyond.
Another cheerful ride of slaughter through the world and figures of ancient Greek mythology, Ghost of Sparta is fun in a way that few games are. My only real concern is that I wonder how many more people in ancient Greece Kratos can kill. He must be going through them faster than they can be produced.