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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution
Published By: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developed By: Ready at Dawn Studios
Genre: Third-Person Action
Players: 1
Rated: M for Mature (Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Nudity, Sexual Content)
Screenshots: Link
Amazon: Buy Now!
Written By: Anthony Cara

November 1, 2010 - Blood rage born from brotherly love fuels our favorite little Spartan as he hacks, slashes, and QTEs his way through a path of merciless revenge and tasty violence. God of War: Ghost of Sparta is the next chapter in the portable GoW Series, and it takes place just before God of War 2. With games like Dante’s Inferno and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, it would seem like the God of War clone has become a genre in its own right, but with Ghost of Sparta, SCE and Kratos remind everyone why they should accept no substitutes!

Ghost of Sparta picks up where God of War 1 leaves off. Kratos is seated at his new-found throne and still ripe with anger and haunted by the ghosts of his past. This time the focus lies on Kratos’s brother Deimos. In the midst of their adolescence the pair was separated by the seemingly heartless machinations of the Olympic gods, and now Kratos feels driven to rescue his brother from the unknown horrors he faces. The journey takes Kratos through various legendary cities including Creet, Atlantis, and Sparta. As always, the impact Kratos has on classic mythological figures (Thanatos, The City of Atlantis, and King Midas for example) is at once brutal and amusing to anyone familiar with the classic tales. Oh that poor King Midas (still not as bad as what happened to Apollo). As one might expect, the story delves deeper with its own little twists and turns until ultimately Kratos confronts his final living link to the world of man.

The visual presentation that accompanies this story is simply phenomenal. As always, the series manages to push whatever hardware it’s on to its graphical limits. If not for the slight jagged edges seen close up, there are some moments when it looks like you are playing a current generation console, and not a portable system that’s been around for over 5 years. Content-wise you are looking at the same dark, brutal settings as the rest of series. There are some nice weather effects, destructible environments, and a fair amount of nudity both grotesque and alluring (one word: brothel). The sound is quite pleasant as well. Kratos returns with his epic T.C. Carson voice and the rest of the cast is of equal quality. The music is both epic and repetitive, and it lays a nice backdrop for the hacking, slashing, and grunting (oh the grunting…) that accompany each stylish battle.

The game play is much the same as before, but there are various little tweaks and subtleties that are certainly worth note. If you are unfamiliar with God of War, the game works essentially like this: you run on a fairly linear path and engage in various battles where walls fly up and force you to face something like a gauntlet until each foe is defeated. Once the last monster drops, you can move on to the next zone. In battle, you are able to employ combinations of light and heavy attacks as well as various special skills and magical attacks that are obtained later on. Among these special abilities you gain the Thera’s Bane skill that lets you add a flaming element to your blades and it grants a nice little bit of variety to the game play. With the flaming blades the game also employs armored foes that must have their armor burst from them by constant attacks from the flaming blades (which often leave behind Searing Cores that explode after a few seconds). You also will need to rely on mid-battle QTE segments in order to deal the most damage possible and suffer the least pain. Between fights there are various puzzles and platforming sections, though this recent title really plays these down. It seems like the hard core brain breaking and fury-inducing trials have been all but abandoned in favor of simple tasks and much more fast-paced QTE events. This is not so much a complaint, as a neutral comment about a shift in style. Personally, I never really died from battle in God of War 1, but I was ripping my hair out at certain platforming moments. This game has no such difficulties, but I certainly found myself falling in battle a great deal more often.

One of the greatest draws to this particular series is the difficulty level. Anyone wanting a simple experience can set their games to easy or normal and have a fun little time, but hardcore gamers will not be disappointed by the punishing hard and very hard modes (the second being obtained after beating the first). I don’t believe myself to be the most skilled gamer, but I was able to conquer the hard mode fairly thoroughly in about ten and a half hours. This of course allowed for my incredibly methodical treasure seeking style and my constant failures in some of the harder battles. With no difficulty I was able to find every “hidden” object with no outside assistance.

An odd little design choice I noticed was the frequent but odd placement of treasure chests between combat instances. For the most part, the chests for life and magic replenishment were right when they needed to be, but often times I would encounter a second set of healing chests when it would have been impossible to take damage between the former set and the current. And then there were other times when I was starving for health, but had to survive a battle or three first! It almost made me wish I could have taken a rain check on the abundance of useless healing chests or that the extra green and blue orbs would have converted to red to give me some sense of accomplishment for opening them. I also found it rather amusing how during some of the most intense battles, you could utilize the game’s violent cinematics to keep Kratos safe from harm. Constantly mashing circle to chain grab opponents would often activate a brief and brutal mini cutscene where Kratos performs some horrific mutilation of his opponent. During this scene, Kratos could not be hurt by anything around him. While facing the most chaotic battles involving smaller foes this was the most exploitable key to success.

If ten hours doesn’t seem like much time to you, fear not, for this game is rich in succulent replay value. After beating the game once, you may replay on the same or lower difficulty while utilizing all the goodies you unlocked in your first playthrough. You can also challenge the various unlocked game modes including the special trials and the fun customizable combat mode. In Zeus’s temple there are also many more things to unlock using the red orbs collected in-game. In my single, methodical playthrough I barely scratched the surface of all that could be had. And of course there is always very hard mode, if you are up to it.

Remember, a Spartan may never lets his back hit the ground, but you should still be prepared to be ruthlessly slaughtered where you stand.


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