Review by LordShibas

"The Best Reason To Own a PSP So Far"

The PSP is an interesting handheld system. I've owned one for over a year now and I've spent a good bit of time with it, however, nothing has really floored me and made me feel like my journey into the PSP world was 100% worth it. Don't get me wrong, I've played a lot of PSP games and enjoyed many, but nothing that approached the “Epic” status that really made me feel like I could not live without my PSP.

I recently decided to pick up the re-deigned PSP, along with the God of War bundle, since I wanted to try GOW, and I liked the PSP re-design. During an 18 hour power outage at my house last week, I decided to throw in GOW: Chains of Olympus and give it a try in order to test out my new PSP. Two hours later, I was still playing GOW and I just could not stop. So what is so different about GOW than other PSP games I have played? Read on and find out.

Keep in mind that this is the first GOW game I have ever played. I have yet to tackle the PS2 versions, so some things that really impressed me, may not impress those that have already played the previous GOW games.

GOW: Chains of Olympus is the third GOW title in the series, and it's the first game on a portable system, the PSP. Having a series that is already well established on a standard console, Ready At Dawn (the developers) had a big task ahead of them. They were aiming to port the GOW franchise to a slightly less powerful system without two analog sticks, and make a smooth transition, without losing anything that made the GOW series what it is today. For the most part, I can say that they did a fantastic job, and GOW: Chains of Olympus is a great game and does not detract from the high standards that the GOW series is known for.

You will be playing as Kratos. Kratos is a tortured soul who carries out the wishes of the gods against his own will. Even though he is being forced to do these things, he usually has his own motivations as well. It's an interesting setup, since the gods have twisted and deceiving ways of getting what they want out of Kratos regardless of how it affects him and his well being.

There is a thriving schism between the good and evil gods, and Kratos finds himself on the good side, needing to slay the evil gods in order to get the things that he desires. So fighting and hunting down these evil gods is Kratos's only temporary reprieve from his tortured existence.

Kratos is incredibly audacious in his efforts and always seems to be giving all that he has, mind, body, and soul. It really makes him a great character, and I'd say he has to be one of the best, new video game characters in years.

Kratos is given the “Blades of Chaos” as his main weapon of destruction. They are blades attached to chains, which gives him a huge range advantage over most of his enemies and they allow for some very cool and unique combo and fighting aesthetics. Watching Kratos carve up enemies with the Blades of Chaos is incredibly fun and really does make combat a bit more interesting than the norm.

Kratos also has plenty of other moves as well. He can grab most enemies for a quick kill, he will acquire upgrades to the Blades of Chaos, giving him more moves, he will get three different kinds of magic, which can all be upgraded, and he also has a shield which can deflect enemy shots and attacks. Last but most definitely not least is the 2nd weapon that Kratos can get during the game, the “Gauntlet of Zeus” which makes him even more of a powerhouse and with the Gauntlet of Zeus, Kratos can flatten most enemies in one charged hit.

There are also quick time events in which you will need to input a certain button sequence to perform a quick and brutal kill on enemies. These button pressing events are optional for regular enemies, but are mandatory for boss battles, so you had better practice them while you can.

In spite of all of this, God of War is not a constant battle-fest. The game is also broken up into some minor platforming elements, some exploration, and some puzzle elements which break up the flow of combat.

With all of these gameplay elements mixed together, one would think that the game would falter in some area and become an average action/adventure game, however, it all holds together very nicely, and ends up being quite an enjoyable experience and quite possibly one of the finest that the PSP has to offer.

Graphics 10/10

I really have no problem at all giving GOW a 10/10 for graphics. It's by far the best looking PSP game I have ever seen, in fact, it looks really close to a PS2 game. Everything in the game was given an incredible level of detail, from the character models, to the animation, to the framerate, to the expansive background environments. The in-game cut scenes looks gorgeous and the regular cut scenes look even better. This really helps to draw you into the game and finally allows you to see what the PSP is capable of.

Kratos maintains fluid animations throughout all of his attacks and despite there sometimes being half a dozen enemies on the screen, the framerate stays solid and never becomes an issue.

The environments are beautiful and it's not un-common to see huge, stone statues in the background which will dwarf Kratos and really make you feel insignificant, which is an ancillary goal of the game due to Kratos being the whipping boy of the gods. The statues and environments show their antiquity through various means and never seem to get old. Even when traveling through caves, there will be interesting things for you to look at, or simple things for you to marvel at, like the sparks coming off of the burning candles.

Well there is nothing more to say here. If you are looking for a graphically impressive PSP game, it does not get any better than GOW, simple as that.

Story 10/10

The story in GOW is really good. I'm not comparing it to storylines from RPGs such as Xenogears and the Final Fantasy games, but to other games like GOW. It's not a long, drawn out story, it's more of a short, intense story which will keep you on the edge of your seat towards the end and really make you care about the outcome.

The story is derived from in-game cut scenes, regular cut scenes, and a narrator. You will receive little bits of information between areas and it will all add up to something wonderful. I really don't want to ruin anything for anyone who reads this, but you will not be disappointed in the story.

Sounds and Music 10/10

GOW has some really epic music and it always seems to fit the mood perfectly. There are times when there is intense music for the fights and then there is gothic-type music when exploring and puzzle solving.

The sound effects are great too. Kratos will let out screams when attacking and the clash of weapons sounds perfect. Even when Kratos does something as simple as climbing a wall with the Blades of Chaos, you will hear each blade pierce the walls as he digs them in for climbing.

The voice acting is top notch. All cut scenes and story elements are voiced and they all sound wonderful. As Kratos screams to the gods for direction, his voice will echo in the distance and show his anger and frustration all at once. Even the enemies are superbly voiced and sound devious to the core.

Turn up the sound on your PSP, this game sounds great.

Gameplay 9/10

GOW really made the transition to the PSP without losing much. The core gameplay stays the same and dodging is now done via holding the L and R buttons and pressing in a direction. It takes a little bit to get used to, but it will be second nature after a while. Kratos has so many moves at his disposal that you will have a constant battle in your head of how to take the enemies down.

The puzzle elements in GOW do a good job of breaking up the monotony of fighting, but they seem haphazardly placed throughout the game and it doesn't make much sense why there are huge cranks to turn and statues to move. However, you will easily be able to discern when you have entered a puzzle area, so you can put your thinking cap on and get cracking on it.

While the backgrounds are grandiose in scope, you will not really be able to explore outside of the given path, which is kind of a bummer, since the backgrounds are so inviting and you'll wish there was some way to get atop that giant statue in your way, but you must settle for finding a way around it.

As I said before, the combat in GOW gives you so many options that you will have trouble deciding how to down the enemies. Throughout the game you will receive new weapons, spells, and enhancements at intervals. This was not enough for the developers though. During the game, when you kill enemies and open chest, you will receive Red Orbs, which you can accumulate and use to purchase upgrades for your weapons on your menu screen. Upgrades range from more combos for the blades of Chaos to rapid fire spell blasts which will down enemies quickly.

One downside I found to the whole weapon system is when you get the Gauntlet of Zeus. Don't get me wrong, it's incredibly cool, and insanely powerful, but that's the problem, it really makes the rest of the game fairly easy and you'll be able to take down most enemies in one charged strike from the Gauntlet.

Another noteworthy feature of the game is the generous amount of save points which you will come across. This is a nice feature and makes it a convenient game to take on the go, since you will not have much time between save points and you will not have to re-play through long areas.

There is also a checkpoint feature which is cleverly implemented. Pretty much before, after, and often during all major scenes, is a checkpoint, so if you die accidentally, you will almost always be pretty close to where you were. This works well during the button pressing sequences, since some of them will result in your instant doom if you mess them up. If this happens, you are usually taken right back to the start of the sequence to try it again.

I'm not really sure how the developers did it, but there are no loading times once you are in an area. Yes, none. Despite how good the game looks, you will flow from screen to screen without any hesitation and it really keeps the action going strong. You will have some loading before and after cut scenes and in between levels, but even these load times are not too lengthy.

GOW really excels in the gameplay department, and when I first started playing this, I had no intention of playing it through to the end, but it hooked me instantly and kept me interested all the way through. It would have been nice if there were a few more boss fights though, and maybe a few more regular enemies to beat up on.

Longevity and Re-playability 6/10

This is the only area where GOW disappointed me. I took my time going through the game and I was still able to finish it in about 6-7 hours, pretty much in 4 sittings. You can unlock some additional modes and bonus features, but none of them seem very interesting.

It's also on the easy side, and does not provide much of a challenge on the normal mode. Some of the puzzles may take a bit of thinking, but the battles are pretty easy and even the tougher battles are fairly easy with the checkpoint system.

Despite this, GOW is a must play PSP game. I simply can not stress this enough. If you have a PSP and you are looking for a new adventure game, look no further, your game has arrived.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 07/10/08

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

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