Developer: Ready At Dawn
Website:God of War
Usually, the sight of a new PS2 God of War game is a time for a celebration. But a new God of War game on the PSP? There’s no way a game of GoW’s scope could ever translate well on a handheld, right? Right?!
That’s a big wrong, good buddy, as God of War: Chains of Olympus translates better than you would ever expect on Sony’s little handheld device. So well, in fact, that if I didn’t have to place my index fingers on the right and left shoulder buttons just to dodge attacks (More on that later), I’d swear that I was kicking up my feet on my ottoman and playing the game on my big screen TV in my living room—the game is really that beautifully designed and structured. Honestly, not since the original Tetris on my cumbersome, green screened, four battery powered Gameboy have I ever felt this submerged in a game on a handheld.
That said, it’s certainly not the best game in the revolutionary action series, as the story in this one seems even shorter than your typically short GoW game. It also feels immensely scaled down to fit the PSP’s screen, so the battles are nowhere near as epic and gratifying as they are in the big brother GoW’s, but that’s just small potatoes to an overall satisfying dish of mashed spuds.
This particular sequel in the GoW series is actually a prequel that predates the first game and fits well in the ongoing eviscerating adventures of the pasty Ghost of Sparta, Kratos. Here, Kratos has just received the Blades of Chaos from Ares (Who we sadly never actually get to see in this game), and is currently a loyal, albeit grumbling, servant to the gods, currently doing their dirty work/laundry, to one day be rid of the horrific nightmares he’s been having as of late. But trouble is afoot when Morpheus, the god of dreams, lulls all the gods to slumber in an attempt to submerge the world in darkness and steal the light of the universe. There’s a twist near the end of the story that opens up even more to the Kratos mythology, but the last battle that follows the twist is far too short and easy for it to really be a satisfying closer, and that brings me to a huge complaint I have with the game: it’s a little slow in the beginning, and when it finally picks up, it’s already over.
A big reason for this slow pick-up is the controls, which, while good for what you’re given, are still a little shaky, even up to the very end of the game. Many a time, with all the new, exciting weapons I opened up (And for the first time in GoW history, I actually frequently used every single one of them), the controls, which aren’t really all that different from the PS2’s controller, got a little confusing, causing me to blow magic on burning everybody when all I really wanted to do was deflect projectiles with my sun shield. It made for some tight battles where I barely made it out alive. I suppose having the screen right in the middle of the buttons is the problem, but I don’t really know how that could have been fixed and I guess that Ready at Dawn did the best with what they had. Also, the evading technique, which was oh so fluent on the PS2 with the extra analog stick on the controller, is actually a little bothersome, as you have to hold down the left and right trigger buttons as you move around with the single analog stick. This awkward set-up had me often dodging attacks by just running around in circles rather than by actually rolling in and out of combat, which lessened my high strung 100-hit ultra combos significantly, making it more like a battle of hit and run rather than a battle of hit and demolish.
Also, as mentioned earlier, the battles in this one are just not very epic at all. The final battle, which I didn’t even realize was the final battle until the end credits started rolling, is even easier than the Zeus fight at the end of the last game. And what also bothers me is the small range of mythological creatures that can be found in this one (A basilik? Really? Is that’s all you’ve really got for me?).
But with these glaring points aside, that still doesn’t hamper the game to the point where I didn’t find it enjoyable, and I think that’s clearly a sign of how amazing the whole package is. Not able to dodge attacks quickly enough? No problem, as I found other means to dispatch my foes, especially with my new weapons, most notably the Gauntlet of Zeus, which is pretty much a giant, Sock ‘em bopper, where you punch your way through throngs of baddies. It’s such a great weapon, in fact, that it almost made me forget about the coveted Blades of Chaos, and that’s no small feat as I always relied on them a bit too much in the PS2 versions. I even used the Gauntlet of Zeus against the final boss and don’t see any other way to beat her, as the blades failed me miserably for that last fight.
And let me tell you about the graphics in this game. They rival those in Tekken: Dark Reserrection as the best the PSP has to offer, which I didn’t think was even possible as Tekken for the PSP looks absolutely unbelievable. In GoW, flames flicker as they ought to, rocks shatter as they always have, and ghouls get rip to shreds as you think they should; truth be told, this game looks so good that it could probably be ported to the PS2 (Which it probably will be if the PSP GTA’s are any indication) and nobody would even know the difference.
Chains of Olympus is simply a great game that every PSP owner (above the age of 16, of course…that tacky sex minigame sadly returns) needs to buy right this instant. It will certainly make up for all the entirely lame games that have been piling up on the system for the past few years and will ultimately make you feel like you made the right decision on picking up the PSP over the Nintendo DS. God of War: Chains of Olympus, does not disappoint.
Lover of Avatar (The Last Airbender, not the blue people), video games, and anything 90s, he will talk your ear off about Godzilla, so don't get him started.
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