God of War: Chains of Olympus PSP
Published by: Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Developed by: Ready At Dawn
Release Date: Out Now
The PSP hasn’t had many system selling games to date but God of War: Chains of Olympus is definitely one. God of War fans who don’t yet own a PSP are almost certainly going to want to purchase one just so that they can get their hands on Chains of Olympus and they would certainly be happy with their purchase. To date, a lot of action games on the PSP just haven’t worked well but Chains of Olympus shows that the handheld is capable of much more and is arguably one of the finest PSP titles to date.
Chains of Olympus is actually a prequel to the God of War games that appeared on the PlayStation 2. Whilst this might be a little disappointing for those who were hoping to see the storyline continued, it does mean that anyone who hasn’t played a God of War title beforehand can play the game without fear of having missed out on anything. The game begins in Attica with Kratos taking on the invading Persian army and before the game is over he’ll fight some of the most feared Greek mythological creatures.
God of War: Chains of Olympus is virtually all about combat. During the course of the game you’ll fight standard enemies who aren’t much of a problem and there are the epic boss fights which can be a real problem. The boss battles force you to look for the weak spots and work out an effective strategy. At key stages of the battle you'll have sequences where you need to press specific buttons at the appropriate time, an icon appears to show which button needs to be pressed, in order to hurt the boss. If you time your button presses correctly you’ll inflict a significant amount of damage on the boss and continue the fight. Should you fail, it will be game over with the option of going back to the last checkpoint. Thankfully the checkpoints are well placed and you won’t have to backtrack much at all.
Whilst the game is very impressive, there are some things that could have been better. The PlayStation 2 God of War games were a good mix of action and puzzle solving but Chains of Olympus is almost purely an action game. Without the puzzles to change the flow of the game every so often, the game does tend to feel more repetitive and that’s a shame. The amount of weapons available to Kratos during the course of the game is actually quite pathetic. This isn’t much of a problem but surely more effort could have been made to include at least a dozen or so different weapons. The length of the game is also a disappointment and unless you play through the game multiple times, you’re not going to get ten hours out of the game, which would be very disappointing if the action wasn’t so enjoyable.
Chains of Olympus is one of the finest looking PSP titles to date. The graphical quality of the game is very impressive but what is even more impressive is the frame rate, which remains solid even when there is plenty going on. In keeping with the conventions of the series, the bosses that Kratos has to fight are huge and they look excellent. The character models and animations on the whole are fantastic. The level design isn’t quite as good as in God of War II but it’s still very good nevertheless. Chains of Olympus is destined to be used as the benchmark for how future PSP titles will look and I can honestly see many games falling far short of the standards set in this game.
God of War II on the PlayStation 2 was excellent in all but one respect, it wasn’t subtitled. Naturally this was a massive disappointment and put a big dent in the game’s appeal for deaf gamers. Chains of Olympus is subtitled and the subtitles are enabled by default. Only the main dialogue in the game is subtitled however. Still this is an improvement and at least it’s possible to follow the storyline in Chains of Olympus. All tutorial messages are shown in text so you’ll have no problems in learning how to play the game. As with the other God of War games you'll come across a variety of objects that can be interacted with and an icon showing you what button needs to be pressed to interact with the object in question is displayed. During the boss fights, as well as several action sequences, you'll need to press specific buttons at the correct times to perform manoeuvres and again an icon showing you which button you need is displayed.
Whilst not perfect, God of War: Chains of Olympus is very impressive and as we said at the top of this review, it’s a game that will help to sell a fair few PSP systems. Of course it’s a game that will also persuade the few who didn’t purchase a PlayStation 2 to go out and purchase that system for the sole purpose of playing the first two God of War titles. The game looks superb and the action is just as impressive here as it was in the PlayStation 2 games. Virtually stripping out the puzzle solving elements does actually harm the experience to a degree however. The length of the game is also a disappointment. Still when a game is this impressive it’s easier to forgive its shortcomings and any God of War fan, or fans of action games in general, should regard this as a must own title.