Review by CrimsonGear80

"The future God Of War is ready to wreck havoc...IN YOUR PANTS!!"

Ready At Dawn Studios have had a pretty good track record for the PSP, despite only making one game for it. Daxter was a very fun platforming title that raised the graphical bar for the PSP, so it's only natural that Sony gave RAD the task of putting a God Of War title onto the little beast. So now we have God Of War: Chains Of Olympus, a powerhouse prequel to the first two GOW titles that easily stands toe to toe with it's console brethren in delivering an excellent (and bloody) action-adventure game!

SPARTAN STORY

CoO takes place some time before the events of GOW1, as everyone's favorite ghost of Sparta is currently serving the gods of Olympus, in an attempt to be cleansed of the sins of his past. The gods give Kratos the task of defending the city of Attica from the invading Persian army, who brings the Cloverfield monster—I mean the dreaded Basilisk along with them. After defeating the Basilisk, Kratos witnesses the sun literally falling out of the sky, which leads to total darkness starting to take over the land. So the gods give Kratos yet another task: find Helios, god of the sun, and save humanity from everlasting darkness.

Compared to the first two games, the story in CoO isn't as strong or interesting, but it does pick up steam towards the end of the game and does build up Kratos's character quite a bit. There is also some interesting foreshadowing to events that happen in GOW1 and 2, which was pretty nice. However, story is just one part of the GOW equation…

SPARTAN GAMEPLAY

First things first: God Of War's excellent control scheme translates near perfectly to the PSP. Kratos's main weapons are still the blades of chaos, and pretty much every combo and attack they have are carried over from GOW2, so series veterans will immediately feel right at home. Square does the light attacks, while triangle does the heavy ones, and putting in different combinations of these buttons will unleash different combos. The circle button will cause Kratos to grab his enemies, and the X button will cause him to jump. Guarding is done with the L trigger, but the biggest control changes come with the magic attacks and the evasive maneuvers. On consoles, you choose Kratos's magic attacks with the d-pad and activated them with the triangle button, but on the PSP it's simplified by having you hold down the R trigger and pressing one of the face buttons to activate the corresponding magic attack. Evading, usually done with the right analogue stick on the PS2, is done here by holding both L and R triggers and evading with the analogue nub. This all works phenomenally, and Ready At Dawn should be commended for such a fantastic control translation.

If you haven't played a God of war game, 1) What the hell is wrong with you, and 2). …seriously, what the hell man? For those of you who have played GOW, then you'll be happy to know that CoO is the exact definition of a console game shrunk down to size. You control Kratos as you move through linear (but fantastic) environments while laying waste to anything in your path, and with some light puzzle solving thrown in (yes, there is a sex mini-game as well…pervs). You'll be fighting somewhat familiar enemies; each with their own attacks and defenses to get around. So prepare yourself to slice through legions of undead warriors, Cyclopes', harpies, gorgons, and all the other mythical creature you've grown quite fond of throughout the other GOW titles. Of course, the excellent battle system remains fully intact, rewarding you for keeping up huge combos using regular and magic attacks. Like I said before, Kratos's blades of chaos remain virtually unchanged from GOW2, but he'll also gain the use of three new magic attacks that include burning enemies with the Efreet of sucking the life out of them with Charon's Wrath. Kratos will also gain the use of the Gauntlet Of Zeus, which in my opinion may be the best secondary weapon in any GOW game, especially when it is fully leveled up. Larger enemies, in typical GOW fashion, can have their final deathblow dealt by initiating a button-pressing mini-game by whittling their heath away enough so a big “circle” appears above their heads. So…go on ahead and press circle next to them, then just watch the beautiful killing animation while pressing the buttons that appear on screen. However, some of the button presses require a turn of the PSP's analogue nub, and sometimes the turns I did just didn't register, causing me to break the killing animation and allowing the enemy to get some free damage. I was able to rectify this by doing the analogue turns very slowly, but initially it was still annoying. Still, GOW combat is just as brutal and satisfying as ever.

Then we have the light puzzle solving that gives you a “break” from all the killing, and whatnot. Just like the last games, most of these puzzles involve turning levers and pushing crates and statues onto pressure points. So…they aren't head scratchers, but some may appreciate the killing breaks. Unfortunately, no human sacrifice puzzles here, but if you watch the “lost levels” extra feature, you'll see a very cool one was planned. Anyway, you'll also be looking hard for the hidden chests scattered throughout the game that hold extra red orbs, gorgon eyes, or phoenix feathers in them. Gorgon eyes and phoenix feathers increase your health and magic when you collect 5 of either one. Speaking of the red orbs, leveling up your weapons and magic is done in classic fashion: collecting the orbs from fallen enemies and chests, and pumping them into your weapons to level them up.

I do, however, have some issues with CoO. First off, is that CoO plays much more like GOW1 then GOW2. What I mean is, it sticks to the regular formula of killing and puzzle solving, rather than throwing in some new gameplay elements like GOW2 did, and truth be told it's kind of disappointing. Also, there aren't that many boss battles in CoO (about 4 or 5), and with the exception of the last boss, most of them are very easy to defeat. One more thing is the placement of checkpoints and save points at some areas of the game. I mean, WHY place one right before a un-skipable cut-scene before a tough area? Very, very annoying, but thankfully cut-scenes can be skipped on a second playthrough. Other than these gripes, GOW is just as fun as ever, even in handheld form.

SPARTAN GRAPHICS

Remember when I said that Silent Hill: Origin's graphics put other PSP games on notice? Well, CoO takes that notice and staples it onto SH's forehead, then writes “**** you!” in it's own blood next to it on the street. Simply put: THIS is a beautiful-looking PSP title that easily matches its PS2 brothers. Fantastic and artistic environments, great lighting, and marvelous animations all push the PSP to its limits. Every decapitation, mutilation, and destruction Kratos causes are all depicted in bloody and gory excellence. I bet if you put Kratos's character models from the PS2 games next to the CoO one, you would see no difference. The game also has zero load times, yet another awesome achievement. Cut-scenes, in game or CGI, are all impressive. A new notice has most definitely been put out; one that I doubt will be ripped to pieces anytime soon.

SPARTAN SOUND

What can I say? Sound effects are terrific, the orchestrated score is as awesome as ever, and the voice acting (with returning voice actors for Kratos and the Narrator) is superb. That, how they say, is that.

YOU WONT WANT TO BREAK THESE CHAINS

CoO, unfortunately, is a very short game. I beat it in less than five hours, but what would a GOW game be without enticing extras? Here, you unlock the extremely hard God mode upon completion, plus the equally as hard Challenge of Hades, which is the same thing as the Challenge Of the Gods from the previous GOW games. You can also unlock new costumes, concept art, and various “making of” videos. All in all, CoO will be in your PSP for quite a while.

God Of War: Chains Of Olympus is one hell of a great action-adventure game that not only stands tall next to GOW1 and 2, but also stands equally as tall as a showpiece title for the PSP. Ready At Dawn has proven that they are masters of the PSP, now all PSP owners have to do is buy their latest masterpiece, and wonder how much more awesome God Of War 3 can possibly be.

KEWL
+Faithfully recreates the GOW experience on the PSP
+Awesome controls
+Excellent combat system
+Button-pressing deathblows are as gruesome as ever!
+Nice puzzles
+Bar-raising graphics
+Excellent sound and voice acting
+Replay value

LAME
-An overall weak story compared to GOW1 and 2
-Analogue nub inputs sometimes didn't register
-Not enough bosses, and the ones that are there are on the easy side
-Some weirdly placed checkpoints and save points
-Unlike GOW2, there's nothing that mixes up the GOW gameplay formula
-Even with replay value, the main quest is pretty short


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 03/17/08

Game Release: God of War: Chains of Olympus (US, 03/04/08)


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