E3 2010: Hands-on with God of War: Ghost of Sparta

It also wouldn’t be God of War without quick time events, which came into play during the first big fight against Scylla. After the deck was cleared of her clinging tentacles – which could wrap around Kratos, forcing us to jam on the L and R buttons to break free – Scylla ran Kratos’ little ship aground on Atlantis’ rocky shores. The creature then revealed herself (or at least her top half), filling the screen and dwarfing Kratos (like most God of War bosses do). For a handheld game, Ghost of Sparta pulls off an impressive sense of scale, and it didn’t get any less impressive when Kratos hooked Scylla on a massive anchor before leaping in close for a quick time beatdown.

Said beatdown was good and vicious, leaving Scylla with a missing eye and a chunk torn out of her jaw, but it also showed off a feature borrowed from God of War III: the button prompts have been moved to the edges of the screen. This means that, rather than ignoring the action to focus on the prompts, you can watch for directional flashes in your peripheral vision while you watch Kratos acrobatically slash Scylla’s mug to ribbons.

After the wounded beast fled, Kratos was left to pick his way through the ruined tunnels underneath Atlantis, which involved a lot of climbing, platforming, swimming, tugging chests open, shimmying along ledges and fighting cannon-fodder fish-men – in short, everything God of War fans have come to expect from the games. The demo also included a tussle with a Minotaur, which was hairier and stockier than the ones we’d fought in earlier GoW games. It also had a pain-in-the-ass charge move, but went down as easily as any of the others.

It was once Kratos actually busted into Atlantis that things really got interesting. We knew he’d reached the city proper the second we saw a group of terrified civilians fleeing from a hulking monster, which cut them all down by hurling huge steel blades through them. It was here that the beasts got tougher, the architecture got more interesting and – at the end of the demo – we met Garon, a four-armed, electrically charged giant who carried a massive ball that he repeatedly slammed into the ground. Oh, and despite being a lumbering thug, he could also teleport.

Outside of Atlantis, we also had a chance to see other, later parts of the game, including a scene – set in some underground, lava-filled tunnels that the developers acted strangely cagey about explaining – involving King Midas, the mythical king who foolishly wished that everything he touched could turn to gold. Here, he was a sobbing, emaciated wretch – but, understandably, didn’t want a monster like Kratos getting near him. To subdue Midas, Kratos restrained him by the wrists and punched him a few times, knocking him out.

Above: Not King Midas

From there, Kratos had to carry Midas’ unconscious body to a cliff overlooking an enormous lava flow, all while smashing monsters and trying to keep Midas from waking up and turning him to gold – something that, unlike being turned to stone by Gorgons, resulted in instant death. As they neared the cliff, Midas woke up and started clawing at the ground, leaving desperate little trails of gold as Kratos dragged him by his ankles. The scene focused closely on Midas’ face, evoking some of the more brutal beatdown scenes from God of War III – but rather than just getting his head smashed or his eyes gouged out, Midas was hurled off the cliff and into the lava. We’re not sure what happens next, but we’re guessing it probably involves the lava suddenly being turned to gold.

Beyond that, there isn’t much else to say about Ghost of Sparta; it’s a God of War game, it plays every bit like a God of War game, it looks amazing for a PSP title and it’s going to be bloody as hell – even to the point where the spattered blood will stay splashed on Kratos, similar to how it did in God of War III. Expect this one to be out sometime late this year.

Jun 22, 2010

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  • G1VEUP - October 29, 2010 10:11 p.m.

    Ive played the first GoW COO and it was prefect but i can not upgrade my blades in the demo Plz HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • reaperman22 - June 27, 2010 6:14 a.m.

    "but rather than just getting his head smashed or his eyes gouged out" ha funny how those two actions have become a "just" and not a OMG WTF IS HE DOING, i am almost definitely grabbing this
  • sleepy92ismypsn - June 23, 2010 3:44 p.m.

    Thanks Mikel, I've been wanting to here more about this game since it's been confirmed. I was hoping this game would be revealed at e3 for psp2 but i guess not. Imagine playing this with 2 analogue nubs. Since no psp2 reveal I traded in my psp 1000 with a broken analogue nub (the one in my avatar) and $70 for a silver psp 3000. I haven't boughten or played a new game since I got it but i will get mgs peace walker and GOW ghost of sparta and maybe patapon 3 if i can ever finish the 2nd one.
  • metalgatesolid - June 23, 2010 9 a.m.

    God of War = Awesomeness.
  • Samewere - June 23, 2010 7:53 a.m.

    After reading this article, just became more anxious about this game... Thanks Mikel
  • 510BrotherPanda - June 23, 2010 7:17 a.m.

    I hope they continue using the "give you back a sliver of health if you suck" feature like all the others, God Mode always kicks my butt. I can't afford a PS3, so I have Chains of Olympus, but it was still pretty fun. I just wished it was longer. It's nice that they are implementing the GoW3 QTE button prompt style, it makes the scenes more engaging and the buttons less distracting. reCAPTCHA: wozniak to Wasn't Wozniak the guy that help found Apple? What's he doing here?
  • Jesse1066 - June 23, 2010 4:26 a.m.

    The screenshots look excellent. I should consider getting this.
  • EvidentDead - June 23, 2010 3:54 a.m.

    I like having options in hack-n-slash games, but the problem with God Of War, is that you rarely need anything other than the Chained Blades. Its unfortunate, but usually in GoW titles, when I get a new weapon, I use it for about 30 seconds and switch back to the default blades, because they are 100% better than any of the other weapons. A sword and shield is nice, but I cant see using it (even more so, if it slows me down) unless im forced. I like the settings (Atlantis) that sounds interesting enough. It already seems a lot better than the previous PsP version.
  • Cyberninja - June 23, 2010 2:54 a.m.

    why does kratos need a shield everything around him is usally died before they know he is there
  • ultimatepunchrod - June 23, 2010 2:41 a.m.

    awesome im getting it

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