Having both reviewed God of War III and God of War: Chains of Olympus, I guess it’s pretty obvious that I’m a huge fan of the series. Last week, the God of War: Ghost of Sparta demo was released to those of us with Playstation Plus accounts. Ready at Dawn has returned to helm the game, and seeing as the last one was our PSP game of the year for 2008, there are some pretty big expectations for this game. What clues does the game give us about the quality of the much anticipated PSP game?
1. This game is absolutely gorgeous. This may be just a demo, but I’m willing to call what I’ve seen so far the best on the PSP ever. The characters are incredibly detailed, the effects are fantastic, and the scale seems to be even bigger than the last game. If the whole game looks like this, I don’t see how it won’t be nominated for graphics of the year.
2. My new favorite move is the Hyperion Charge. Kratos runs forward and tackles an enemy MMA style and then you can lay in a variety of punches, double axe handles, and even a throw or two. The move is visually impressive and very effective in neutralizing smaller enemies. It won’t work on the big guys, and enemies can interrupt the pounding, but used correctly it will prove devastating.
3. The new weapon this time is the classic Spartan shield and spear, complete with Hoplite symbol. What makes it work are the modes you can switch to. Shield mode allows you to block incoming attacks while moving, as well as launch a deadly point blank attack. Spear mode leaves you open for attack, but you can toss the spear as a projectile without using magic, making it the most cost effective ranged attack in the series. I want to see if there will be any extra attacks with upgrades, as this could easily rank as one of my favorite alternate weapons.
4. Atlantis was a great choice for a setting. The Atlantean warriors fit perfectly with the game’s aesthetic, and the best monsters in God of War have always been from the sea. Think about the Hydra, Kraken, Poseidon, and the Scylla in this game.
5. Speaking of the Scylla, it is a return to form in terms of scale. The monster is huge, forcing you to battle it across multiple stages. In terms of size, I’d say only the Colossus of Rhodes and the Titans were bigger. It uses tentacles with mouth-like ends to grab at you, and releases strange crustacean creatures from its body to do the grunt work. It is definitely a step up from the Basilisk in Chains of Olympus.
6. Perhaps better than the Scylla is the Geryon. He’s a midboss enemy that proved extremely interesting and formidable. The Geryon has four arms and carries an giant stone orb powered by electricity. He uses close range attacks, but he can also teleport to hit Kratos with a huge smash and shock-wave move. He was much more formidable than any other enemy and was a lot more interesting than the living statues in God of War III.
7. If the demo is any indication, Ready At Dawn took to heart complaints from the last game that series staples like wall climbing and swimming got the short end of the stick. Both features were present in the demo and were better integrated to boot. With Atlantis setting the stage, I hope for some decent swimming sections, because it’s been an underutilized feature since the first game.
8. One problem I did notice was that the game retreads a lot of familiar ground. This is the fifth game in the series, yet you still finish off minotaurs with the same context sensitive move and it uses the same animation. You stab the Scylla in the eye like you do just about every giant creature in the series, and they set up a scare where you’re battling a big opponent only to have a bigger one interrupt the fight in a cinematic moment. It’s a sign that the ideas in the game could be running their course, and it’s something I’ll be look at closely when the game comes out.
9. Completing the demo unlocks Arena Mode. Here you can set parameters such as health, magic, background, and then pick up to two enemy types to battle against. I found this mode a lot of fun, as it gives you chance to practice against tough enemies or get a feel of how to handle large groups. It would be awesome if they include some sort of boss rush mode this time around too.
10. This is shaping up to be one of the biggest and best PSP games of the year. With God of War III already turning heads back in March, Kratos is having a banner year. I can’t wait for the game to come out on the second of November. With games like Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep, Valkyria Chronicles II, and this, the PSP is having a great second half of the year.