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Demo Impressions: God of War: Ghost of Sparta
by Tom Acres

Hands up who has a PSP? Okay, so not too many. Those people who put their hands up: do you have more than 5 games that you think are pretty awesome? Hmm. Everyone with a PSP has God of War: Chains of Olympus though, right? Ah, I thought so.

I have a PSP, I have only ever bought about 6 games and, in all honesty, the only game I would consider as a real 'system seller' or 'killer-app' is God of War: Chains of Olympus. The PSP is a great device but not many outside Ready At Dawn Studios (who also developed the excellent Daxter) has really unleashed the potential of Sony's little machine. As I said, there's only one game that is really, totally, exceptional.

Erm, yeah, make that two - Kratos is back for another round.

The first thing that will come to a lot of people's minds when they think about the God of War series is the word 'epic', and this new PSP instalment throws a tonne of epicness at you right from the start of the demo and doesn't really let up at all. You start off on a ship in the middle of a storm, on the way to Atlantis, and you're being attacked by a giant sea creature called the Scylla - it's kind of a cross between a Kraken and an ogre, massive and easily one of the biggest bosses outside God of War III. It attacks your ship with its massive tentacles, and also sends a few waves of little sea-urchin-esque drones that grab you by the chest, forcing you to perform a few quick mashes of the L and R buttons to escape.

When Kratos reaches Atlantis, I'm pretty sure you'll be amazed at how good the environment looks. This is a portable outing, let us not forget, and it looks vastly superior to Chains of Olympus - and that was a damn good-looking game. I'd go as far to say as this new one looks better than God of War II, and easily surpasses a heck of a lot of Wii games out there. The textures are detailed, the animation is smooth and the sheer scale is incredible. It's helped by some terrific effects, with rain pouring down constantly and the whole city cascading with water. It's a really impressive sight on the PSP's lovely widescreen display.

The rest of the level saw some fairly standard God of War combat, a few smaller bosses and a couple of occasions in which the Scylla made a reappearance, only for the demo to end just as Kratos launches himself towards it.

The gameplay is classic God of War, but Kratos comes armed with a few new moves, magic abilities and weapons which are available in the demo. Kratos has access to a move called the Hyperion Charge, which enables him to grab an enemy, tackle him, throw him at other enemies or smash him into the ground. The new magic spell in the demo is called the Eye of Atlantis, which is a cool and powerful lightning attack. Finally, the new weapon you get a look at is a spear-and-shield combo which allows Kratos to block attacks from close- and long-range, and also enables a short-armed thrust with the spear whilst you stay protected by the shield.

There's also a glimpse of platforming and puzzles, but it's nothing we haven't seen before.

From my 20 minutes with the demo it's clear that Ready At Dawn knows what the fans want. God of War: Ghost of Sparta is shaping up to be just as violent, exciting, finely tuned, graphically stunning and epic as any God of War before it.

It's time to dust off that PSP.

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- Tom Acres

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