First things first, God of War: Chains of Olympus is one of the best games you are going to find for the PSP and the folks at Ready At Dawn have done an amazing job of bringing the God of War experience to the PSP. Not only have they delivered and exceptional looking game but they’ve crafted a phenomenal story to go along with it.
The game serves as a prequel to the first two God of War games and Kratos is once again tasked with saving the Gods of Olympus. The titan Atlas has been released and he’s taken the sun god Helios prisoner and it’s up to you to return Helios, save the world, and figure out who released Atlas and why. The game has you slaughtering bad guys from Attica to the Elysium Field. In typical God of War fashion you’ll get to meet major and minor players from Greek mythology.
The folks at Ready at Dawn have the God of War formula down pat, possibly too pat. Every signature item from the previous games is in there (including the sex mini-game) but I wish that Ready at Dawn had added something new the canon rather than just re-using what’s been done in the past. There are a few new touches here and there (including some great moments at the end of the game) but outside of those small things the game feels a bit too familiar. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but at times you do feel like you’ve played the game before.
The game took me just under six hours to complete on the normal difficulty level and with the exception of one area I didn’t have any trouble with any of the puzzles in the game. The one area I did get stuck was just me not noticing a passage nestled in the side of a movable staircase and I chalk that up more to my denseness than anything else. There’s nothing really new on the puzzle front so if you’ve played the previous games you’re not going to have much trouble with the puzzles in Chains of Olympus.
Chains of Olympus really shows off what the PSP hardware can do. Torches spit sparks, walls glisten, and blood flows. The game brings the large scope of the previous games to the PSP and never seems to drop any frame. There are parts of the game where I do wish I was playing on a bigger screen if just to see all of the detail that Ready at Dawn has put into the game.
While the graphics are great what really surprised me was how good the controls of the game where. You use the nub to move Kratos around with the face buttons taking up their usual functions of attacks, jumping, and grabbing. To dive in a direction you push both shoulder buttons and move the nub in the direction you want to dive. Magic attacks are done by pressing the right shoulder button and one of the face buttons and power attacks are done with the left shoulder button and a face button. With the exception of using the bottom button on the d-pad to toggle between weapons the d-pad is mostly unused. It’s a simple system but once you get it down it works really, really well.
The sounds in the game is also very impressive as the folks at Ready At Dawn have crammed a fantastic orchestral score into the game and provided some great weapons sounds and enemy screams as well. The voice over acting is also fantastic and it’s nice to see that they were able to get all the original voices for the game.
It’s important to note that you only get two weapons in the game so I hope you really like the Blades of Chaos as you’ll be using it for the majority of the game. You do pick up another weapon on towards the end of the game but its pretty much used to solve a few puzzles and as a setup for the Blades of Chaos. You do get three pretty solid magic attacks to complement the blades and they are fairly effective. The Effreet power from the demo levels up very nicely and as an added touch it now sets people on fire which is a nice touch. It does feel like the Poseidon power from the first game but that’s not a bad thing.
Once you finish the single player part of the campaign there are some challenges and costumes to unlock but that’s about it. The challenges unlock some videos including one that reveals some of the lost levels from the game which is a nice treat if you’re into that kind of thing.
Enemy AI is a bit mixed in the game. It’s solid for the most part but I did have a few times when I could walk up to some of the archers without them attacking. That is counterbalanced by some of the cool attack and retreat attacks of some of the other enemies but it’s a bit odd to see. It’s not a difficulty setting either because I’m still seeing the bug on my second run through the game at the hardcore difficulty level.
I wouldn’t expect a large variety of enemies in the game as there are around eight different enemies in the game. For the most part this isn’t a problem except that towards the end of the game the developers increase the difficulty by forcing you to take on more enemies in a smaller space rather than introducing newer/harder enemies. This is probably due to a limitation of the hardware but it’s not something I noticed until late in the game. The enemies are really well done (especially the trolls)) so this really wasn’t that big of a deal to me.
Despite these nags God of War:Chains of Olympus is a must have for PSP owners. There are a few slow parts to the game towards the end of the game but the strong start and finish to the game make this worth the $40 price tag as long as you don’t expect anything new from the game.
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