E3 2010: God of War: Ghost of Sparta PreviewBy Sterling McGarvey - Posted Jun 21, 2010
What We Already Know:
Um, it's God of War. It's on PSP. If you have a PSP and Chains of Olympus, not much else to know, is there? Okay, fine, but only because you asked. Ghost of Sparta takes place in between the first God of War and the sequel. How Kratos can be killed in the game while being the God of War is beyond me, but according to the developers, we'll all find out more when it drops.
What We're Seeing Today:
Game director Dana Jan and CoO director Ru Weerasariya showed off both the floor demo and some behind-the-scenes footage during a Sony-sponsored media panel. Since no God of War game is complete without a grandscale opening, the team has set the intro up as Kratos sails to the lost city of Atlantis. It evokes the feel of the first game in many ways, although Jan said that the scene is designed to toy with your expectations. Aside from the location, one of the first things to catch my eye was the level of detail in Kratos' face. It turns out that the team has done extensive work on Kratos' animations. I noticed that during the trademark opening stage camera pan, his facial expressions are very pronounced, moreso than what I'm used to seeing out of PSP games.
Just as quickly as Kratos dispatches of the initial enemies, he gains a new attack: the Hyperion Charge. He can use the charge to tackle enemies, then pound their faces into hamburger for orbs. He can also tackle them and use them as projectiles to throw at other enemies, and it works mid-air. It seems that Ready at Dawn worked quite closely with the God of War III team in Santa Monica. In Ghost of Sparta, the splatter effects seen in the recent console game have made their way over. In another section that I'll touch on later, I noticed that the quicktime events take on the same visual format (buttons are on extreme ends of the screen) recently seen in God of War III. Also, in puzzle solving, you can now run with blocks just like the third game.
Throughout the boat fighting, Kratos is embattled with several vicious tentatcles. I later discovered that they're part of Scylla, a mythological creature from Greek mythology. Ready at Dawn have rendered her as a grand-scale boss -- arguably as large as, if not bigger than the Colossus of Rhodes from God of War II -- with six large tentacles protruding from her torso and several eyes (she resembles a giant Chimera boss from Resistance in some ways). She also spawns spider-like creatures that Kratos can either attack head-on or use the Hyperion Charge to throw at her. Once she's weakened, he uses a crane wheel to drop an anchor near her face. He proceeds to gore her cheek with it and climb onto her face to stab an eye. If it sounds like a familiar tactic, it is. The battle evokes both the Hydra fight of God of War and the Colossus fight of God of War II all at once.
Once he staves her off, Kratos finds himself off the boat and in a tangled mess of columns and ruins. It's here that he discovers the Eye of Poseidon, a magical device that, like Poseidon's Rage, shoots lightning at enemies. It also has an air attack. In this attack, I can see where the team has tweaked the game's animations from Chains of Olympus. The enemies twitch and nearly lift off the ground from the electric shockwaves. Besides magic, Kratos picks up another new weapon to his arsenal: a shield and spear. How Spartan. With this new weapon, new combat possibilites arise. He can use the shield to guard himself, and since he can switch weapons on the fly, several new combat dynamics open up as he gores enemies near and far with the spear.
In another section, Kratos runs head-on into a Geryon. These mythical creatures boasted several body parts, such as two faces or two sets of arms or legs as well as a pet Cerberus. For the sake of the game, Ghost of Sparta's Geryon is a massive monstrosity that boasts two sets of arms, a gigantic metal orb that shoots lightning, and that pet Cerberus. He's a vicious-looking miniboss, and he's got an arsenal of tough attacks. However, by the end of it all, Kratos still crushes his skull with the aforementioned lightning orb. Not long after, Scylla reattacks, and as Jan points out, the team is striving to portray progressive damage in the big bosses. You'll see the slashes in Scylla's face and the missing eye, and with the new effects Ready at Dawn is pulling off with the PSP, you'll be able to easily see how damaged the creature is, and how pissed off they are at Kratos.
From there, Jan shifted gears to a section called Volcanic Pass, which the team wasn't showing out on the floor. Weerasariya explained that Ghost of Sparta's diverse stage types will largely come through events caused by Kratos. And no, he wouldn't explain what events. Kratos strolls into a volcanic cavern where he comes across a sobbing and weakened King Midas. It's here that Jan showed off what he calls "the stalk walk." As we've seen in several games, when Kratos runs into a human NPC, bad things usually happen. Ready at Dawn is accentuating that with segments where you can control his walk, and NPCs will react in kind. In this case, Midas begins begging Kratos to back away from him. After Kratos refuses, MIdas attempts to attack with his gold-transforming hand, and in a QTE (again, this is where the God of War III influence caught my eye), the king is beaten unconscious. But he's protected. Attack dogs will jump on and bite Kratos, but he can beat them up and chuck them at other dogs. The idea, Weerasariya cryptically said, seems to be that Kratost needs Midas for something and needs to knock him out so that he can't resist while dragging him somewhere. As an added brutal touch, Kratos can stomp his head to keep him down while fighting off dogs. Midas regains consciousness, and as Kratos drags him, there's a great sequence in which he grasps at dirt and rocks to save his life, and they all turn gold as he grabs at something, anything. The action stops as Kratos throws him in the direction of a pit of lava.
If God of War III hasn't satisfied your urges for more Kratos action, Ghost of Sparta not only appears to be a worthy sequel to Chains of Olympus, but also a suitable section of the series canon. This is definitely a game to watch in the coming months.