Review by brochattey
"How well does Kratos make the handheld leap?"
After beating the God of War Collection on the PS3, I picked up Chains of Olympus hoping to play another stellar entry in the franchise: my wish was granted. The game is stunning on the PSP and the quality is easily comparable to the PS2 titles. What's more, the gameplay is still fantastic; nothing was sacrificed in the transition to the portable platform.
If you know anything about Kratos, you're aware that he's a macho Spartan warrior enslaved to Olympus. Taking place before the original God of War, it starts with Kratos' defense of Attica from invading Persians. However, the plot quickly takes a new direction when Helios goes missing, and Morpheus -- god of dreams -- lulls all of the Olympians into an eternal slumber. For Kratos to finally be rid of his haunting memories, he must return Helios to the sky and save the gods. The story is a little weak, but who really plays these games for their amazing narrative?
Chains of Olympus plays almost identically to its console counterparts. While progressing on a linear path, you solve environment puzzles and use your Blades of Chaos to slice up anything dumb enough to get in your way. The controls vary slightly from the console due to the lack of the extra analog stick. Pressing the left shoulder allows you to block, and the right shoulder performs a spell determined by the face button pressed with it; the left and right shoulders together perform a dodge. It's a little clumsy at first -- I sometimes found myself casting a spell when I meant to block -- but anyone who's played a GoW title should feel at home. The standard mini-game finishers are also back in their full bloody glory.
I've always found God of War games to poorly utilize magic, and Chains of Olympus is no exception. If you wanted to make use of spells, you could, but I rarely found it necessary. It's not a big deal since your blades are more than sufficient, but it's worth mentioning.
This is one of the best looking titles on PSP. Environments are well crafted, but the real highlights are the character models and animations. I was also impressed by the lighting effects, specifically the pinkish-red hue that accompanies your swinging blades. Also, if you were worried about the lagging framerate found in the demo, that problem is nonexistent in the retail release.
Music and voice acting are both top-notch -- exactly what you'd expect from titles of this caliber. Unfortunately, you may need to play in a quiet environment or with headphones to clearly hear the dialogue. It may have just been my PSP, but I had to pull it close so that I wouldn't miss anything during a cutscene.
My biggest complaint about the game is that it's extremely short. I understand the nature of portable gaming, but my total playtime was just under 5 hours. That includes maxing out all gear, spells, and bars. Although, if you really wanted to punish yourself, you could extend the playtime a little with the Challenge of Hades mode. While the game is definitely worth a second playthrough, I still wish it were a few hours longer.
The lack of epic boss battles was disheartening. For me, God of War has always been about pushing the scale of battle to the extreme. Beyond the basilisk boss at the start of the game, there are only a few regular enemies of larger stature. You aren't going to find any skyscraper-sized gods here.
Overall, Chains of Olympus is a very fun experience. The story may be weak, but God of War has always been about gameplay first and foremost. Anyone who has played the console titles will find the same amazingly fun experience on their handheld. It looks great, sounds great, and plays great. My major complaint is with the game's length; frugal shoppers looking to get the most bang for their buck may be disappointed. For everyone else, this game is one of the best the PSP has to offer.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 08/16/10
Game Release: God of War: Chains of Olympus (US, 03/04/08)
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