God of War: Chains of Olympus
Reviewed by Jacob Spindel, June 2008
Ten years before the original God of War game, the gods require Kratos the warrior to fend off an invasion from the Persian army. But that’s not all – he soon discovers that he will also need to find the light of Helios, which has gone missing, and confront a series of battles that will ultimately force him to decide whether he will abandon his daughter Caliope in order to protect her safety. And you thought your job was tough!
God of War: Chains of Olympus, the first God of War game for PSP, is a prequel that pushes the limits of what you can get away with in a game rated “M.” (You probably didn’t even think that was possible!) The game is much too short, but otherwise its battles and puzzles provide for some seriously entertaining gaming.
As Kratos, you battle your way through a series of three-dimensional levels, learning a variety of new attacks and special moves and upgrading your existing abilities along the way. There are some puzzle-solving scenes, but the vast majority of the game involves defeating enemies before they defeat you. (In fact, even many of the puzzles involve figuring out the right tactics to beat a specific character.) As he progresses, Kratos collects numerous green, blue, and red orbs, which restore his health and magic and earn him points toward upgrading his attacks. He can run, jump, roll, and climb, but it is his skills in combat that will be tested most heavily.
Additionally, like many recent games, GoW includes a “minigame” mode, in which you must match a series of button presses and analog stick gestures displayed on screen. The minigame mode appears at the end of any battle against one of the game’s tougher enemies, where completing the minigame successfully finishes the enemy off. Another gameplay mode, Challenges, is available from the game’s main screen; it involves completing a series of battles, most of which are unbelievably difficult, in order to unlock additional challenges.
There’s certainly a lot of gameplay to take in here – which is one of the reasons the game’s short storyline is a bit disappointing. By the time you finally feel like you have a comfortable understanding of most aspects of the game, the game will probably be almost over already. Taking in all of the game’s concepts will make you feel fired up and ready for even tougher challenges, so it’s a shame that, for most gamers, the game is too short to provide any.
God of War’s graphics are slightly above average. The game’s 3D worlds are impressive and on par with other PSP games, although the characters and levels have fewer details and nuances than in some other recent games. The most impressive aspect of the game graphically is its depiction of fire and rays of magic; here, the game uses detailed special effects to make sure you actually feel the power of the elements you are confronting. The gore factor is also very high in GoW, with graphic depictions of blood and other violent acts being shown almost nonstop throughout the game.
The game’s audio is effective, but not groundbreaking. Dialog is used extensively throughout the game; although the voice acting is good enough that it doesn’t feel like a laughably bad translation from some other language, it is also not impressive enough to make you feel like you’re watching a TV show or movie. The music is subtle and stays in the background, but the melodies are haunting enough to convey the somber tone of the story. Finally, the sound effects are effective and realistic, with every action and impact possessing its own distinctive sound. In fact, some of the game’s screams are realistic enough that they almost make you feel guilty about some of the attacks you will perform – I’m not sure if that’s a good thing.
God of War: Chains of Olympus is a gory, heart-pounding, button smashing, intense battle. Its graphics and sound are above average, though not by much. Unlike some other combat games, GoW also includes enough variety, such as learning new special moves and facing new enemies, to avoid being repetitive or boring. It’s unfortunate that the game is so short, but if you like action-packed storylines, then you will certainly enjoy the ride - at least while it lasts.
Hints & Tips
-You can enter the minigame mode to finish off tougher enemies – but you may not have realized that, in most cases, you also have the option of NOT using the minigame. If you are having difficulty keying in the right button sequences, just ignore the minigame icon and finish the enemy off “the old-fashioned way.”
-Destroying background objects like vases and barrels may seem a little crude – but it is actually a good way not only to pick up some free red orbs, but also to keep track of which areas you’ve already visited. Smash away!
-When battling Charon, you can reflect his attacks with your shield (press L) rather than trying to dodge them.
-In the final battle against Persephone, once you have gotten her life bar close to the bottom, you will find that if you attack her any further, she will simply recharge herself, making your attacks useless. So when you get to this point, instead of attacking her, stand in the illuminated circle and hold up your reflective shield. The resulting rays of light will be a big surprise for Persephone – and not in a good way.
-Remember that you can do a quick roll by pressing L and R simultaneously. This is a good evasive maneuver that can get you out of trouble.