God of War: Ghost of Sparta Review
The star of Sony's God of War franchise, the perpetually pissed off Spartan warrior Kratos, has, in just a few short years, attained respect and name recognition that is comparable to gaming's biggest stars, Mario, Master Chief, Sonic, etc. So when the warrior was finally laid to rest in God of War 3, his fitting, inescapable end was accepted by fans with one caveat: Will we ever see Kratos again? Almost immediately after that game's release, a website appeared that seemed to only be showing rain on a slick surface. In an ingenious move, Sony tied the site to players who went above and beyond, those who managed to get the game's coveted platinum trophy. The more trophies that were earned by players worldwide, the clearer the cryptic website became. Eventually, enough gamers had reached the platinum milestone and the website's image and purpose became clear: Kratos was coming back for his second outing on the PSP. After nearly six months of agonizing wait time, God of War: Ghost of Sparta is here, and I just finished it up last night. So, how did Kratos' new adventure pan out? Keep reading.
For the purposes of this review, I'm going to assume you have at least some knowledge of the God of War storyline. Ghost of Sparta takes place immediately following the end of God of War, but before God of War 2's opening. Kratos has killed Ares and taken on the role of the god of war (duh). A vision spurs the anti-hero to go back to what he does best, killing everything that so much as moves, and things quickly boil down to a search for the new god's brother, Deimos. I won't go any further into the story than that, but I will say the plot is easily the weakest found in the entire series. The mysterious vision is resolved almost immediately, and the rest of the game devolves into Kratos doing his best Harrison Ford impression, "Where is my brother? Give me back my brother! I must find my brother!!!" It also reminded me of the Mexican brothers running the drug cartel in season 3 of 24, but the "Hector! My brother!" reference was a little too vague. Jokes aside, the story here just isn't very strong.
Lets talk presentation next. You've probably heard by now that Ghost of Sparta is one of the best-looking PSP titles yet, and that is a mostly fair and accurate statement. The game does look and sound great, with amazing cutscenes and lots going on at once. The enemies look as good or better than those found in the PS2 God of War titles, and the two main bosses are especially impressive. The sound is also extremely well done, with the series trademark excellent voice acting and immersive score. I can here you thinking, "Ok, but…" Yes, there is a "but." The environments in Ghost of Sparta are 100 percent completely devoid of any personality whatsoever. You run from burning city to burning volcano to burning cliffs to the burning underworld. Everything in the game seems to be on fire at some point or another, and there are zero memorable areas or encounters. Remember the temple on the back of the titan in the first game? Remember the giant winged horse and chariot from part two? Remember fighting Poseidon's giant water horses on the climb to Mt. Olympus in the third title? Of course you do; they were amazing sequences. You won't find anything like that in Ghost of Sparta. Instead, the camera will occasionally zoom out to show… not much, and when you finish the game, you won't be able to name a single location you've just run through. The lack of setpiece moments and running from bland environment to bland environment does hurt the overall game, even if it does sound a little nitpicky on paper.