God of War: Chains of Olympus Review - 10/06/2008

God of War on PSP was touted pre-release as the reason to own the console due to its exclusivity and major hype surrounding the game. So does Chains of Olympus live up to its name? Well, yes...and no...

COO is a difficult one to review to be honest; while playing the game I was overwhelmed at some points, under whelmed at others, and sometimes even both together. Allow me to explain; the game itself is a technological feat as developer Ready At Dawn have managed to offer us gamers a fully fledged GOW experience to rival the PS2 incarnations in the palm of our hands. In fact, gamers who have played the PS2 versions will be astonished at how close the game mirrors them. You have Kratos with the trademark Blades of Chaos as his main weapon, and other items that are picked up as the game progresses to intensify his arsenal. These range from new magical abilities, like calling forth the wrath of a fire demon, or new weapons including shields and a set of gauntlets. The game's button layout remains almost identical to the PS2 versions' except that dodge is assigned to pressing both shoulder buttons and moving the analogue nub (due to the lack of second shoulder buttons).

The gameplay itself is also nigh on identical, which is in no way a bad thing. Levels interspersed and linked by cut scenes, which keeps the game flowing and eliminates the need for menus, a great accomplishment for a game of this size on the handheld. You move through each area as the Spartan warrior, offing all the enemies that get in your way, either by swinging your blades or other equipped weapons, using magic to destroy them, or wearing them down with normal attacks and the initiating brutal finishes with [O] when prompted. These are amazingly gruesome, just as before. As you move through the levels you complete puzzles like moving blocks to open doors, manipulating light beams and such. Also you collect red orbs (to level up your weapons and magic), green orbs (to replenish health), blue orbs (to replenish magic) and finally you also collect gorgon eyes (to increase the amount of health you have) and phoenix feathers (to increase the amount of magic you have). At the end of most missions comes a battle against an outrageous boss character.

Portable Kratos? Count us in!

COO is in fact a prequel to the PS2 versions and is set 10 years before the events of the first game. It starts with the gods sending Kratos to Attica to protect the town from a Persian invasion. As seems traditional now with GOW games, the first proper boss in this level is huge, a giant basilisk unleashed by the Persians to wipe out the town. In this battle and most others, you begin by attacking the boss normally with physical and magical attacks until you are prompted to press a button (normally [O]). This will initiate a bemani mini game in which you press the buttons as prompted on the screen to dispatch your humungous foe (although you usually have to do this a few times).

Sounds great so far doesn't it? Classic GOW in the palm of your hand, which is true, the game is in fact amazingly accomplished. So what was I saying earlier when I mentioned it being underwhelming at points? Well, in my honest opinion, I think the hype the game was subjected to before release and the comments made by the developers about pushing the PSP to its limits graphically, were a thorn in its side. Graphically the game, although rather accomplished, is slightly disappointing. In game there are a lot of jaggy edges and the game occasionally (at least once a level) suffers from frame rate issues and slowdown. The CG cutscenes are also a slight disappointment, as although they are fairly good when compared to other titles, they are still not as good as I had hoped or expected (Final Fantasy CCs cutscenes trump GOW any day). Although these may seem small problems, and you may think I'm just nit picking, these things although they don't shatter your impression of the game, they may just crack it. Yes, at times COO does look amazing, the lighting sometimes is great, and it's at these moments that you will form a full impression of the game. But it seems Ready At Dawn have either truly pushed PSP to its limits and in doing so have made an error in judgement, or something somewhere went slightly awry.

The always-intense boss fights make a welcome return.

GOW COO is an amazing game, no doubt about it, but the perch it was put on pre-release boded badly for it, and even though it isn't such a major problem it is slightly disappointing. Looking past that though, COO is the best game on the PSP system at what it does, hack/slash/puzzle em' up, usually referred to as the action/adventure genre. If that is your style then you will love this; if you are a GOW fan, then again this will be amazing for you. The question now falls, is COO the reason to buy a PSP? This is difficult to answer, but my opinion is that, if you are looking to purchase a portable anyway and are in one of the two categories mentioned above, then yes, this is the reason to go for the PSP over its competitors. However, if you are thinking of buying a PSP just to experience this game, then no I'd recommend you don't, wait for GOW III instead.

- Alex Goodenough


The best Action/Adventure game on PSP.


Amazingly close to the quality and delivery of its console brethren, a feat in itself.


Great, violent fun, and let's face it, fun's the reason we play videogames in the first place.


All the slowdown, frame rate issues and jaggy graphics put a dampener on the overall package.


Not worth spending you pretty money on a PSP just to play this game.


Final Score:
An amazing game for handheld enthusiasts, but also an example of how major hype can have negative effects on a game's final reception.



Sony CE
Ready at Dawn