Loosely based on Greek mythology and focused on protagonist Kratos, the game forms part of a saga (the God of War series) with vengeance as a central theme. In this third chapter, Kratos, now the God of War, is still haunted by the visions of his mortal past, and decides to explore his origins.
The game features gameplay similar to previous installments in the series. It is a third-person action adventure game, where the player controls Kratos, containing quick time events, box-based puzzles and boss fights. The game features new weapons, magical powers and navigational abilities not present in previous games, and has been cited as featuring 25 percent more gameplay than its PSP predecessor Chains of Olympus.
Kratos' arsenal includes the "Blades of Athena" and the "Arms of Sparta" (a spear and shield). Kratos also gains the ability "Thera's Bane" (infuses the Blades of Athena with fire) and in this game acts as the "Rage" feature. As with the Items used in God of War III, this ability automatically replenishes itself. Both Arms of Sparta and Thera's Bane are used to overcome environmental obstacles.
The combat system has been updated to allow Kratos to "pummel enemies to the ground as well as throw them", and perform air-to-air attacks. An "augmented death system" is also being used.
Magical abilities include the "Eye of Atlantis", "Scourge of Erinys", and the "Horn of Boreas". The relic "Poseidon's Trident" is retained (God of War).
As with previous games, chests found throughout the game contain orbs and are marked with a corresponding color for the orbs (green, blue, and red). Green Orbs replenish health, blue orbs replenish magic and red orbs provide experience, which in turn allows the upgrading of magical abilities and weapons.
Health and Magic upgrades—Gorgon Eyes and Phoenix Feathers respectively—reappear and can be found in chests, with five items needed for an upgrade. Minotaur Horns also reappear (from God of War III) and upgrade the Fire meter for Thera's Bane.
As with previous installments, a challenge mode ("Challenge of the Gods": five "Challenges of Ares" and another eight "Challenges of Athena" that can be unlocked) is included. Another mode has been added ("The Temple of Zeus") and allows players to sacrifice collected red orbs (both in-game and Challenge) to unlock additional features, such as the "Challenges of Athena", costumes and bonus videos. A Combat Arena (similar to the version in God of War III) allows players to pick adversaries and adjust the level of difficulty.
An oracle foretold that the demise of Olympus would come not by the revenge of the great Titans, who had been imprisoned after the Great War, but by a marked warrior. The Olympians Zeus and Ares believed this warrior to be Deimos, the brother of Kratos, due to his strange birthmarks. Ares interrupts the childhood training of Kratos and Deimos (with Athena watching) and kidnaps Deimos. Kratos attempts to stop Ares, but is swept aside and scarred (across his right eye) by the Olympian. Ares attempts to kill him, but Athena stops him, knowing Kratos' destiny. Taken to Death's Domain, Deimos is imprisoned and tortured by the god of death, Thanatos.
Kratos, the Ghost of Sparta, has taken Ares' place as the new God of War on Mount Olympus. Still haunted by visions of his mortal past, Kratos decides- against the advice of the goddess, Athena -to explore his past and travels to the Temple of Poseidon, located within the city of Atlantis. Despite Poseidon sending the sea monster, Scylla, in an attempt to stop Kratos from reaching Atlantis, Kratos finds the city and, after a series of skirmishes, kills Scylla.
Kratos eventually locates his ailing mother, Callisto, who attempts to reveal the identity of his father. When Callisto is suddenly transformed into a hideous beast, Kratos is forced to battle her, and before dying, Callisto thanks Kratos and beseeches him to seek out his brother Deimos in Sparta. Before departing from Atlantis, Kratos encounters and wounds the trapped Titan, Thera, whose retaliation causes the eruption of a volcano, and subsequently sinks Atlantis.
After a battle with Erinys, the daughter of Thanatos, Kratos arrives in Sparta and witnesses a group of Spartans tearing down a statue of Ares, intent on replacing it with an image of Kratos. After killing the Piraeus Lion and a dissenter in the Spartan Jails and an encounter with the spirit of his child self in the Temple of Ares, Kratos learns he must return to the now sunken Atlantis and locate the Domain of Death. Before leaving, a loyal Spartan provides Kratos with his former weapons- used during Kratos' days as a Captain of the Spartan army -the Arms of Sparta.
Entering the Domain of Death, Kratos eventually locates his imprisoned brother Deimos and frees him. Enraged that Kratos failed to rescue him sooner and stating he will never forgive Kratos, Deimos attacks Kratos, but the god Thanatos- responsible for Deimos' torture -intervenes. Thanatos takes Deimos against his will to Suicide Bluffs (the site of Kratos' suicide attempt), where Kratos saves Deimos from falling to his death. A grateful Deimos then aids Kratos in battling the god. Thanatos kills Deimos but is destroyed, in turn, by Kratos. Kratos, remarking that his brother is finally free, places Deimos in his grave (leaving the Arms of Sparta as a grave marker), and is warned by the enigmatic Grave Digger who once aided him not to alienate the gods, stating Kratos has become "Death...the Destroyer of Worlds."
Athena begs for forgiveness (offering full godhood and even acknowledging Kratos as her brother) for not revealing the truth, but Kratos ignores her, returning to Olympus promising that "the gods will pay for this."
In a post credits scene, the Grave Digger places Callisto in a grave near Deimos (with an empty third grave nearby) and states "Now...only one remains." The final scene is a brooding Kratos sitting on his throne on Mount Olympus.
At E3 2010, God of War: Ghost of Sparta received nine awards, including "Best Handheld Game", "Best PSP Game", and "PSP Game of Show" from various media outlets. The game also received three nominations.
PlayStation: The Official Magazine, (10/10) awarded Ghost of Sparta with the "Gold Award". Kotaku awarded the game with the Editor's Choice stating "God of War: Ghost of Sparta is a palm-sized epic video game."
At the 2010 Spike Video Game Awards, God of War: Ghost of Sparta was awarded "Best Handheld Game".