God of War: Chains of Olympus
For: PlayStation Portable
Genre: Action, Adventure
ESRB Rating: Mature (17+)
God of War: Chains of Olympus
Though third in a series, God of War: Chains of Olympus makes its debut exclusively on the PlayStation Portable. Forgoing its PlayStation2 console roots for the more relevant Sony system and acting as a prequel to God of War I and II, Chains of Olympus is also an excellent stopgap while you wait for everyone's favorite no-nonsense Ghost of Sparta to come to the new-generation PlayStation3 in another new game, a true sequel, due out sometime between now and Armageddon (vaguely slated for 2009).
Chains of Olympus places you once again in the role of Kratos, the excessively angry, apparently tormented, apex of anti heroes reluctantly employed by The Gods to do dirty work in the hopeless hope of one day shucking the angry torment so he can, what, go tend bar in Puerto Vallarta? No matter, you know it'll never happen.
Anyway, still with the bullwhip-ish dual sword on chains thingies, the odd mighty melee weapon, and those well-earned and wickedly effective magical smart bomb smasheroos, still a nice balance between goring and rending of hapless thugs, invigorating brawls with bossy creatures of the mythological persuasions -- complete with those exacting button-activated cinematic finishing moves --, the interspersing of quiet-time puzzle-solving by way of box shoving, lever yanking and the plopping down of dead bodies to hold a door open, all permeated by the relentlessly need to break all the furniture in sight (and offering at least one opportunity to make nice with the ladies -- by way of off-camera innuendo, it should be noted, and some Harry Met Sally voice-overs, while the "nudity" in the game is mostly of the Greek goddess in ill-fitting toga variety or demonessic wardrobe malfunctions... very much a mature game, but it's not pornography or anything).
The story continues as something Homer might have (rough) drafted; an epic tale of an epic clash between Titans and Olympians, usually fleshed out with a cast of thousands, Greeks and Persians and many, many, throwaway extras.
As always, God of War excels with the script writing, stuff fit for a blockbuster movie (or some such Iliad knock-off), but here in videogame, like a bump up to first-class for free -- which is funny, because even with the sound off or the story sequences ignored, you have little choice about what to do, where to go, and who to slay -- i.e. pretty much everyone --, because it's all linear, with only one real way to get through it... but it's one hell of a ride from A to B and down through the alphabet.
All told, Chains of Olympus is almost
perfectly excellent. It's only real flaws lies not in its design but in the somewhat limited PSP hardware, particularly the system's control configuration, and only particularly if you have big hands... but you're often required to use both the shoulder buttons, some face buttons and the analog thumb stick (or thumb nub, so-called) conjunctively to pull off rather exacting moves, which leaves you gripping the unit itself so that it's teetering on your ring fingers, or with your thumbs and forefingers crooked and actuating awkwardly, or in sub-dexterous positions, at any rate. Kratos' trademark diving-roll evasion tactic is particularly cumbersome, both shoulder buttons, exactly simultaneously, and a thumb nub nudge for sporadically inexact rolls depending on which way you're hoping to dodge. Not that the ill-conceived button placement makes for impossible play; it's just distracting, illusion popping.
Too, there's no manual camera control, but the auto-follow is quite good, except that the odd scene where the view is pulled way back so you can take it all in, graphically gorgeous that it is, makes for itty-bitty, ants-on-the-beach, where-am-I? fighting or where-do-I-go-now? Puzzle solving, but that isn't totally ruinous either, just a bit incommodious (or goofius).
So really, God of War: Chains of Olympus is mostly
TIP: After you beat the Persian King boss (the dude who coughs up the Efreet smasheroozer) in God of War: Chains of Olympus, there's an obvious save point over on the left, but tucked away on the right, there's a little room with a couple of harem girls that will load you up with orbs and stuff if you treat them nice.