Gaming Today Impressions of God of War: Chains of Olympus for the PSP

250px-god_of_war_chains_of_olympus_na_version_front_cover.jpgGod of War: Chains of Olympus
Developer: Ready at Dawn Studios
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Price: $49.99
Platform: PlayStation Portable
Category: Action/Adventure
ESRB: “M” for Mature
Release Date: 3/04/2008

Kratos the Spartan has a really bad life. Sure he’s a marauding, enemy eviscerating unstoppable war machine all by himself; but it’s got to suck to be “the cleaner” for the Olympian Gods.

Chains of Olympus is the first title in the God of War series to grace Sony’s portable gaming system the PSP but the game actually serves not as a continuation of the Playstation 2 series, but as a prequel that details his existence pre-God of War as he moves from battlefield to battlefield cleaning up after the messes made by his deific masters.

You push Kratos through hordes of foes all the while whipping your trademark Blades of Chaos – a gift from patron god Ares – and popping their cherries until they sprout fountains of red, green and white orbs. Fans of the series will find nothing unexpected here and while this game was obviously created to take advantage of the handheld’s graphics and controls it does not alter the gameplay into one that is more conducive to pick-up and put-down play. This is a good thing though because once I started playing I found myself glued to the PSP and tethered to my power outlet lest my battery die on me mid blood orgy. Chains of Olympus feels like a God of War game through and through.

I’m a fan of the previous games, in fact God of War 2 stands out as one of the best PS2 titles released. I’ve spent hours playing through the entertaining story, solving puzzles where I had to push boxes and time my button presses to defeat the massive boss monsters. Chains of Olympus introduces some new foes and some new puzzles but its the same experience.

Controlling Kratos after spending so much time with the PS2 controller was something I expected to have issue with. The lack of a dual analog setup – something everyone has noted in every action game review for the PSP since the system launched – actually was not an issue after a few seconds of play. Ready at Dawn manages to pull off a close imitation of the original controls and I was able to enjoy the game without missing a beat.

god-1.jpgGraphically there is a lot to like here. The game is not quite up to the quality of the PS2 version but it looks impressive next to most of the older PSP games and good when held next to many recent releases. The shading on the characters, the gouts of blood and special effects when you trigger magic or special attacks all kept pace and at times I almost forgot I was playing on the handheld.

This is also very much a story built in the God of War mythos. There are a few recognizable enemies but overall the foes, powers and weapons gained in the game are in keeping with the established setting. The game begins with Kratos on a mission from Athena in the city of Attica. It seems Attica has a problem with the whole Persian army invading so the gods deem it time to send in their wetwork guy to singlehandedly win the day and drive the Persians out.

While handily slaughtering the Persians in his path, overcoming the Persian King and defeating his Basilisk pet, Kratos is sent in search of the fallen chariot of Helios the God of light and the Sun. When he finally finds the location of Helios’s fall he discovers that the Titan Atlas has taken the Olympian captive and that the gods are continuing their bickering and infighting. In typical God of War fashion, Kratos becomes involved in the disputes of the gods and sets off on a mission from Athena and Eos to uncover how the Titan escaped and to recover Helios. Without spoiling more of the plot, fans should expect a betrayal or two from the gods along the road to the end of the story.

god_of_war_psp_model_back.jpgHands down Chains of Olympus is an amazing game. The limitations of the platform however show in the lack of variety of foes, but lets face it – God of War is not about cool chattel to slice through, its always been about the bosses and the game features some well realized boss fights. I’d recommend Chains to any PSP owner and those who have not already picked up a PSP might want to wait for this summer’s red God of War/PSP bundle pack. That is if you can wait that long – Oh and for those worried the game is toned down in any way, I have to say the sex mini-game in this handheld was better than I’d expected – make special note of the candle and it’s decorations.

You can also read the Official 1Up network review here.

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