Lets You Slash Your Way Through the Netherworld
God of War: Chains of Olympus allows you to bring Kratos and his dual chain-blade wielding slashfest out into the world thanks to the PSP. Of course, if you prefer decapitating demons in HD, you can also opt to play the remastered PS3 version. Despite not being developed by the SCE’s Santa Monica Studios, Chains of Olympus is an excellent installment to the series (thanks heavily to the developers at Ready at Dawn). This game is more than just a port, it is an example of how a console title can be successfully adapted to a portable medium.
Despite being a far cry from the more complex combat systems of Capcom’s Devil May Cry or the Sengoku Basara series (which God of War is trying to emulate in many ways), Kratos still manages to kick ancient Olympian butt with savage moves, amazing abilities, and fantastic combos. It does suffer a bit from a rinse-and-repeat pattern of gaming though; once you discover a couple of really effective combos, you are not given any incentives to change your play-style. Even the inclusion of unique enemies will hardly break the eventually monotonous pace that the game will have. Of course, we are only strictly speaking about the combo-selection. Now that we have the one boring factor of the entire series out of the way, we can proceed with the good stuff.
In terms of enjoyment, this game shines best when you are confronted with bosses. The game starts you off early with an encounter with a screen-filling basilisk (which you get to fight again later on). That’s just the first one, you eventually get to face off against Charon and much later on, a surprising final boss fight against an unlikely enemy (we won’t spoil it for you though).
The visuals for Chains of Olympus are surprisingly loyal to the original PS2 versions. The backgrounds are full of little details, the stage designs are made to be easy to figure out and move around in, and each set piece feels like a piece of a much larger and cohesive whole. And while the PSP version carries many of the nice things related to the console originals, it also has the same flaws; some parts of the stages look too similar to each other and there are times, then the stages go from overly-detailed to feeling mostly blank.
The combat animations were fortunately, not skimped out on and that means it will be absolutely fun and satisfying when you watch Kratos eviscerating ghouls with his blades while tearing apart those flying harpy-like monsters with his bare hands.
More Simplified Combat
Combat in God of War is designed for everyone in general –this means no complex timings or complex button sequences. Just tap the attack buttons in rapid succession and you will be dishing out more pain than Ares would approve of. In some ways, this feature works as a double edged sword for the series. Since it is easy to play, anyone can get into it. At the same time, since it lacks a bit of combat depth, those who are looking for something that will really challenge them will be sorely disappointed.
For Chains of Olympus, this simplification becomes even more noticeable as the PSP’s lack of secondary shoulder buttons (L2 and R2), and second analog stick (used in the console for dodging) means that the controls have been further streamlined.
At least, the change does not detract from the gameplay. Spells can now be quickly added into your moveset as just holding down the shoulder button will allow you to quick cast any spell instantly –which is far easier than the console’s spell selection system. Dodging also becomes a little more intuitive as you can now integrate it into the middle of combat without having to lift your fingers from the face buttons.
Zeus Would Be Proud
Kratos will always be a monumental badass in Sony’s court of iconic heroes –he is, pretty much the face of hack and slash for western games, and that is saying a lot (as it basically moves him on the same level as Dante or Bayonetta). Chains of Olympus, in terms of Kratos’ various adventures is just a little side-trip in his otherwise epic adventure. Still, there are plenty of important plot points that are revealed in this game which ties up some of the loose ends and questions brought up by the first two PS2 titles –it also sets up the foundation for the events of the later games.