Skeletal enemies climb aboard and we tear them to pieces with wreckless abandon. "Lord Kratos," a crew-member screams from the hull above, "It's destroying the entire fleet." As we march through the innards of the ship, we approach the tail of a gigantic Kraken-esque sea monster. We thrash at its meaty tentacles; rolling away from its unpredictable tail. God Of War: Ghost Of Sparta is unequivocally familiar; but it's a technical master-piece beyond even its bigger brother, God Of War III. It just looks unbelievable.
And with the gameplay honed to such perfection after its first iteration, that's particularly unsurprising. God Of War will always play well, because the formula's been routed in since Jaffe founded the series. God Of War is all about spectacle now, and it does it better than any other franchise in gaming. Our hands-on time with God Of War: Ghost Of Sparta was absolutely dripping with "oooh".
The sea-monster returns multiple times throughout the demo. This is a typical God Of War opening, with enormous set-piece moments punctuated by traditional gameplay. Puzzles, traversal and combat are all key elements, and appear to be well realised here. The formula may be wearing a little thin, but it's still hard to criticise.
Ghost Of Sparta introduces an interesting new weapon alongside Kratos' traditional Blades; a new Spartan shield and spear mix up the gameplay a little, and allow you to attack from distance. We also happen upon a new magic attack during a hands-on time with the game. Similar to Helios' head in God Of War III, the light attack allows us to break through walls and stun enemies.
But whatever Ready At Dawn do to mix-up the gameplay (and it certainly feels like they've happened upon some new weapon types that change things up), it's always going to be the same silky-smooth combat you expect from a God Of War game. Square-Square-Triangle is as satisfying as ever, as is launching foes into the air and pummelling them in their subsequent return to gravity. The sense of impact is fantastic. We'd expect nothing less.
It's the sweeping shots of enormous vistas as you navigate the side of a wall that will take your breath away. Make no mistake, the combat is incredible. But it's familiar. What's not familiar is just how good this PlayStation Portable game looks. Chains Of Olympus was impressive, but this is something else entirely. It's fascinating. The game looks razor sharp on the PSP's screen.
Chains Of Olympus has one of the most powerful moments in the God Of War franchise in which Kratos must push away his daughter. It seems like they've already nailed the combat and spectacle; we're eager to see where they take the fiction.