Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Krato's Rage Made Portable Once More

Sometimes a player wants to play a game just to kill something. Sometimes you just want to massacre whatever comes your way. There are plenty of games that let you the player do this, but none are as gorily satisfying as the God of War franchise (here's some information for those of you either stuck under a rock the past few years or ignorant to the world of video games: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_of_War_%28video_game%29). With three core games under its belt plus the PSP side stories it has been thriving for half a decade, and the inclusion of Ghost of Sparta  is no exception.

The PSP is a tricky platform to create a game for. Thriving on 3D graphics but lacking the now standard hardware to pull it off a lot of developers choose not to create for it or release some pretty bad games on the system. But there are a few studios who know how to pull it off and make owning a PSP worth while, and Ready At Dawn is definitely one of the top. After the introduction of God of War: Chains of Olympus the studio proved not only that a fantastic action game could be made for  the pint sized system, but that it could be done just as cinematic and well thought out as any of its larger console brethren.Ghost of Sparta continues this tradition (even after the studio said publicly that it was done designing for the PSP) with even better graphics and the same tight controls that make the battle system such a thrill.

The story takes place in between God of War and God of War II ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_of_War_II ) and follows Krato on his quest to find his long lost brother. The story is intriguing (and surprisingly deep) that adds a layer of depth to Kratos whom we normally see just screaming his head off with not so idle threats. It's nice to see another side (and even a slightly weaker side) to this beast of a man.

Deimos is not a Happy Camper.

The graphics really show what the PSP is capable of in a way that isn't like Square-Enix, who uses a lot of specially made cinematics that do not use the in game graphics. The entire game (as far as I could tell) uses the in game graphics engine and could easily compute with most Wii games on the market. To add to the effect, the camera angles are extremely well done, adding different effects to fit the mood, such as coming in closer to make the viewer feel claustrophobic or zooming out to show the vastness of an area. I had just completed Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep a few months ago (which is no slouch in the graphics department) but Ghost of Sparta truly shows the PSP engine working at full steam.

Combat in God of War is hectic, often including numerous enemies of all shapes and sizes with gallons of blood flooding the screen as Kratos tears everything in sight apart. Transitioning this same style to a smaller screen (and to smaller hardware) is no small feat, and it with this appreciation that really makes the game shine even more. The controls are mapped effectively to the limited amount of buttons of the PSP system, with a fixed camera behind the player that pans quite effectively in the larger rooms to accommodate the player. Each of the two weapons has a quick strike and a heavy strike that can be combines with both the left and right shoulder buttons plus the two buttons themselves to form various attacks, most of which are gained from leveling up the weapons with the red orbs earned in and out of battle. There isn't too much complication involved, and the controls respond fairly well for the most part, but having the block mapped to the Left shoulder button, the flame attacks being mapped to the Right shoulder button and dodge mapped to holding down both shoulder buttons can be troublesome in the middle of larger battles towards the end (though never to the point of myself getting killed). There are three magic abilities you gain along the way that can also be leveled up and each has a unique ability that adds some variety to the battles. Theses spells are mapped to the d-pad's left, right and up buttons with the toggle between weapons mapped to the bottom d-pad button that is incredibly easy to use in mid combat, though switching does have a small delay.

Combat is Just as Frantic and Satisfying as the Console Brethren.

Though the game is great, there are a few snagging points. The game took me only five and a half hours to beat, and I typically suck at God of War games. I played on normal difficulty, which had some nice challenges, but nothing too terrible. I myself am a college student with very little money, so forking over $40 for a five and a half hour experience is a little hard to swallow. Granted, there are some extras such as the Temple of Zeus challenges and multiple difficulties to play through to get the different skins and items that are hidden to grant the player special abilities, such as gaining 10 times more red orbs, but it only tacked on another three hours. That and the few sticky control issues seemed to bug me, but if you have the cash or the price is lowered, it is definitely worth the experience.

9 out of 10

As always, here are some links to further your insight on God of War: Ghost of Sparta-
Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_of_War:_Ghost_of_Sparta
IGN.com - http://psp.ign.com/objects/735/735806.html


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