God of War: Chains of Olympus Review

  • Posted April 7th, 2008 at 11:23 EDT by Eric Blattberg

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God of War: Chains of Olympus

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Ready at Dawn did an extraordinary job taking the existing God of War IP and creating a brilliant title on the PSP. In short, God of War: Chains of Olympus is the definition of a AAA game.

We like

  • Best presentation ever seen on the system
  • Perfect pacing
  • Near-flawless transition of gameplay elements from console to handheld

We dislike

  • Six to seven hour length on default difficulty setting
  • Analog nub during quicktime events
  • No Blades of Chaos swinging sections

See PSU's review on Metacritic & GameRankings

Kratos is one rad dude. When not slaying the Gods of Olympus or beasts of epic proportions, the Ghost of Sparta spends his free time stomping the Blades of Chaos directly into some unfortunate Cyclops’ eye. Such activities are proudly flaunted in Ready at Dawn’s God of War: Chains of Olympus for the PlayStation Portable, though the big question remains -- does this portable prequel live up to its namesake?

For those of you who have yet to experience one of Kratos’ journeys, shame on you. In all seriousness though, five years prior to Chains of Olympus, Kratos was tricked by the dastardly Ares into slaying his wife and daughter. In order to rid himself of past sins, Kratos pledged servitude to the Gods of Olympus. Chains of Olympus finds the world covered in the darkness of dreams, as the mysterious Morpheus has placed a spell upon the land. Kratos will ultimately be forced to choose between his own personal redemption and saving the world and the slumbering gods from assured obliteration. The plot is captivating and provides several dramatic twists that kept us enticed until the full-circle conclusion, which veterans of the first two titles will surely appreciate.

These fans will also appreciate the authenticity of Chains of Olympus to the look and feel of the God of War universe. The title begins with a battle in Attica against invading Persian forces and their massive basilisk and never goes downhill from there. The pacing of the title, like the other God of Wars, is perfect. The amount and difficulty of enemies is spot on, always tough enough to provide a suitable challenge, but never overly frustrating. Hero (Normal) mode is recommended for series newcomers, while Spartan (Hard) mode provides the most appropriate challenge for experienced players on their first play-through. It will also lengthen the title, which unfortunately took us God of War pros only a mere six hours on Hero. The ridiculously difficult Challenge of the Gods and God (Very Hard) mode are unlocked upon completion of the game. You’ll absolutely want to complete both of these modes, as they undoubtedly add some replay value to an otherwise concise title.

Ready at Dawn discovered and implemented several clever techniques to circumvent the control limitations of the PSP, which in some cases work even better than the previous control mechanics. The drastic changes involve the rolling and magic mechanics. With the lack of a right analog nub, dodging is now handled by holding both L and R simultaneously while moving the analog nub in any direction you desire. Magic has entirely ditched D-pad switching, instead opting for a more approachable system. Hold R and press square, triangle or circle to activate one of the game’s three magic spells, which include an area attack, ranged attack and semi-ranged individual attack.

Even with these new improvements (especially to the magic system), combat is almost identical to the PS2 games. All your favorite combos -- with one exception; L and X is no more -- remain either untouched or tweaked for the better. Chains of Olympus doesn’t venture outside the proven formula, but we can’t really complain, as the series still has the most fluid combat system seen in any game to date. We’re a bit disappointed Chains of Olympus didn’t decide to bring swinging mechanics seen in God of War II though. What they did include however was a weapon outside of the Blades of Chaos worth using. Other God of War games have generally failed in that department. There’s only one side weapon, but it’s unique, useful, and a bit badass.

Unsurprisingly, quicktime events return for this installment, and for the most part, they’re just as captivating on the small screen. It’s still remarkably satisfying to rip off a gorgon’s head or cut a foe in two with the press of a few buttons, but we had one recurring issue with the analog nub. Any quicktime event that required rotation of the nub was generally more difficult than those with only button presses, as the tiny nub is no replacement for an analog stick. Outside of that irritating issue, quicktime events feel right at home on the PSP.

This begs the ... (continued on next page)

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