Geek Out: Ghost of Sparta

I’m going through my gaming backlog on Gamefly, trying to clear things out before the baby comes. I was going to do a Geek Out about an excellent book I’m reading (The Name of the Wind), but I have 20 more pages to read (maybe next week), so I hope you’ll allow me to get geeky on another video game.

GEEK | WHAT

God of War: Ghost of Sparta is the fifth entry in the God of War series, which recently reached its conclusion (for now) with God of War III for the Playstation 3. The Two PSP God of War games are set before and between the main console entries. The God of War series popularized a number of trends in video games, including quick time events, and fixed camera “character action” games. Like the other titles in the series, Ghost of Sparta follows angry warrior, Kratos, as he defies the Greek gods and violently kills everything in his path.

 

GEEK | WHY

Whoa: Ghost of Sparta is the most technically impressive handheld game I’ve ever played. Developer Ready at Dawn pushed the PSP to its limits with their first PSP God of War Game, Chains of Olympus. This time, they reached the limits and shattered them. There were moments while playing Ghost of Sparta that I was worried my system might melt, buckle and die under the weight of such a powerful game. How can such a slender device contain a game this huge? The lessons learned from previous games in the series are clearly evident here, everything is bigger and better that Chains of Olympus. The enemies are gigantic, the environments are immersive, and the animation is flawless. My words can’t do it justice. Check out this video, and remember this is running on a handheld device that’s nearly six years old and is about as powerful as a smartphone (or less so).

 

Combat: Ready at Dawn did some smart things with the tried and true (and possibly tired) combat in this God of War game. Instead of giving Kratos a destructive mode that has to be charged up and used all at once, they gave him a fire blade coating that can be used mid combo for extra damage. The fire recharges and can be upgraded. Some enemies must be hit with fire first, so you’ll be toggling it on it off as you wipe guys out. Also, it looks cool.

Story: Normally I couldn’t care less about a God of War story. Most of them can be boiled down to “Kratos gets mad, kills everyone, the end.” While this one still adheres to that basic premise, there’s a tad more depth, which was a welcome surprise. The story takes place between God of War 1 and 2. Kratos is searching for his long lost brother; someone only alluded to in a very brief and cryptic sentence in the console games. Kratos gets some much-needed development, and the call backs (and call…forwards?) to other stories in the series help pull everything together in some neat ways.

GEEK | WHO

If you have a PSP and you’re a fan of action games or the God of War series this is a must play game. The game has some tight fighting controls and mechanics and some epic cinematic moments worth experiencing twice. The puzzles are much easier than past games, but I never much cared for puzzles in God of War anyways. This is a game about stabbing minotaurs and pulling the wings off harpies. If you’ve never much cared for the God of War series, this game, while still impressive, probably won’t change your mind. This is a mature game, rated M by the ESRB. It includes graphic over-the-top violence and pixilated boobies, so don’t buy it for your kids.

GEEK | HOW

God of War: Ghost of Sparta is a PSP exclusive. You’ll need one of those to play it. To be honest, if you don’t have a PSP by now, you might not want to get one, what with the PSP2 just months away. If you can get your hands on the system, this is a game you should experience. It is a technical marvel. Seriously, I was so impressed I had to interrupt my wife, who was reading in bed next to me, and explain to her how impressive the game was. She dutifully nodded along as I geeked out on the expansive environments, detailed textures, and superb animation. Then she went back to her book.

 

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