God of War: Ghost of Sparta review

The hardships never seem to end for Kratos, an afflicted Spartan soldier turned god, who must live with the vivid memory of killing his wife and daughter. In all prior God of War titles, revenge has been the driving force, be it against Ares, the gods of Olympus, or anyone who stands in Kratos’ path. Getting on the ghost of Sparta’s bad side is a death sentence.

Ghost of Sparta takes a wildly different turn for the story. Instead of searching for a path to undue his past, Kratos learns from his mother in her dying breath that his aptly named brother, Deimos, is still alive. As usual, the gods attempt to steer Kratos away from his goal, and his unstoppable might proves too much for mortal and god alike.

The previous PSP God of War title from Ready at Dawn Studios, Chains of Olympus, dealt with the complex emotions of Kratos while attempting to save his daughter. Similarly, Ghost of Sparta sends Kratos on a quest to find Deimos, albeit without the emotional impact. Only at the end of the six-hour journey does Deimos even enter into the game, and it ends ten minutes later in the typical God of War way; a mountain of bodies in Kratos’ wake.

The Blades of Athena (i.e. Blades of Chaos) produce the familiarly flamboyant and destructive attacks, including numerous unlockables. A second weapon, the Arms of Sparta, is a spear and shield combo. It isn’t necessary to gameplay, but it is a fun and often useful diversion from the traditional blades. Magic also returns, although no attack is distinctly special or unique in light of former God of War titles.

The short playtime is supplemented by a harder difficulty and several challenge modes. Challenge of the Gods has players complete a variety of objectives, such as not taking any damage when attacked or collecting all treasure chests during combat. Five are achievable immediately after the game’s completion, but an additional eight can only be unlocked after completing the Temple of Zeus; a temple where all of the game’s artwork and unlockable extras are for the taking.

This temple comes at a very high price, requiring several playthroughs to completely unlock. The developers obviously want players to go through the campaign on several levels of difficulty, but it is a ridiculous amount of work. Special magical items, such as infinite magic or 10x money, don’t earn any extra to be used for the Temple of Zeus. It can only be achieved the old fashioned way.

God of War: Ghost of Sparta doesn’t stray far from its roots, which isn’t a bad thing per se. Ghost of Sparta is visually stunning and effectively implements the combat and quick-time events from God of War 3. Although the multiple playthroughs required for acquiring basic unlockables feels like padding to extend the game, the initial six-hour campaign is nevertheless brutally action-packed.