* Awarded Extreme Gamer's Best PSP Game of '08

Honey I’ve shrunk Kratos! The Spartan warrior Kratos gets shrunken down to a pint-sized adventure for the PSP. However, small is a relative term only to his new miniature stature because God of War: Chains of Olympus delivers as much action as the PS2 editions in the series. Today is a good day to meet the Gods as Kratos gives us a tour of mythological Greece filled with monstrous creatures, Persian warriors and half naked woman.

God of War: Chains of Olympus takes place before for the PS2 titles. This makes "Chains" safe to gamers who haven’t played the first two God of War games. If you have or haven’t don't worry about not having the proper God of War experience because Chains of Olympus delivers an equal endeavor giving gamers everything they love about the God of War series. It's likely going to be a little longer before Sony unveils their new God of War exploits for the PS3, so if you have been waiting for some more God of War action, the portable is the only place you will get it. If you don't have a PSP, God of War could be that game to win you over to the portable side of gaming. If you had to pick one game to justify that purchase, Chains of Olympus is a good candidate.

Developer Ready at Dawn was the perfect team for the job of shrinking down the God of War experience for the handheld. Chains of Olympus works with the Playstation Portables capabilities with astonishing grace, even the controls translate perfectly onto the PSP without small grips with the precision of using the nubby analog stick. Playing through God of War is easily one of the most natural feeling games for the PSP. Like the console, God of War’s gameplay is one of the main reasons so many gamers fell in love with the game in the first place.

The story follows the lead character Kratos, a Spartan warrior who serves the gods of Olympus. You start your exploration in the city of Attica defending waves of Persian militants. Humiliating, you  use their own Basilisks against them, defend their city against a massive Cyclops beast and even take down the Persian King. After that you’ll move to the Cliffs of Marathon battling the undead on your way to the Temple of Helios where you will explore the temple looking for the fallen sun god. God of War is all about Greek mythology and Chains of Olympus continues the adventures of Kratos based around the many gods and creatures that appear in Greek lore. Chains of Olympus also peels back a few layers giving you a little more background about the layered character of Kratos which is great if you've been a long time player.

In the action department, God of War is like a watered down version of the GOW II. There are a lot of forced battles and large bosses to tackle, but the other areas of exploration and puzzle solving have been mostly done away with. There are a few baby puzzles in the game and some new paths to run around in, but Chains seems to be mostly devoted to sword swinging combinations. Kratos trusty Blades of Chaos will be equipped by defeat which is good enough to take down any of your enemies. You can upgrade the Blades of Chaos along with your other equipment pieces by spending red orbs you collect from chests or fallen enemies. New skills and weapons become available as you travel including the pounding Gauntlet of Zeus and advanced magic skills like the Light of Dawn and Charon’s Wrath. Using Kratos weapons, magic, and combination moves are easy to master with the intuitive controls and great use of the buttons including the shoulder buttons.

For game length, Chains of Olympus is a little short lasting around six hours. This isn’t so bad for action game, unintentionally Chains of Olympus is so much fun that it seems like its moving quicker, and six hours feels like three. After you blow through Chains, you have a bunch of unlockables that open up even if you tackle the game on easy. Besides character and environmental concept art, new modes will be playable along with some lost levels. If you’re die-hard into unlocking everything in God of War: Chains of Olympus you will be thanked by obtaining three costumes, McKratos, Mime of War, and Spud of War. For such a serious game, it is neat to see Ready at Dawn embrace some of their Daxter humour.

One thing that is a little disappointing with Chains of Olympus is that the formula doesn’t try and take the game into new territory. God of War on the PSP is pretty much, God of War on the PS2. This is the third game in the series, so a little more innovation would have been nice. I could have also used a few more boss battles to make Chains feels as epically huge as its predecessor. Chains does a good job at keeping the levels stimulating by changing the settings and visually looking sharp, but every level uses the same formula as the last, unless they throw in a puzzle. Hopefully when God of War III is released on the PS3 it will take a few more chances and bring the God of War experience to a whole other level.

California based Ready at Dawn showcases the abilities of the PSP by accelerating the hardware and making the game run as smooth as the PS2 version, with all the same visual flair. The reflections might be a little much, nerveless it is good to see all the lighting effects and other tricks kicked into the production along with some brutal (in a good way) animations. Plus fans of a few bare breasts will be happy that the third God of War experience still brings the ladies to parade topless for Kratos' delight.

The audio isn’t as impressive, falling back on the over serious, under emoted voice work with a contrived script. Many of the same members are still involved with the voice work in God of War, including T.C Carson as Kratos, and Linda Hunt as the Narrator, so if you’re a die-hard fan of their delivery, it’s more of the same. Besides the normal God of War rants, the musical score is nicely put together to match the feel of the game. All together its really hard to fault any aspects of God of Wars presentation, the graphics are skillfully proficient making Chains of Olympus the game to beat.

God of War: Chains of Olympus is as epic and fun as the first two God of War games. If you ever doubted the playability of the God of War franchise without all the horsepower, don’t fret. Ready at Dawn's work on Chains of Olympus has made it into one of the visually stunning games to be released for the system which makes it so much easier to play. God of War: Chains of Olympus is a must have action game for the PSP with its only fault that is over too soon. Like all good things they must end, and that is why you can replay the game in different difficulty levels. Even if you can’t convince yourself to purchase Chains of Olympus for six hours of gaming, you owe it to yourself to rent this game from your local score and embrace the adventure.

Reviewed by Jimmy | 03.11.08

  • Epic Gameplay on PSP: Keeping true to the God of War franchise, experience dramatic camera angles and epic set pieces, offering a never before seen experience on the PSP.
  • Mythological Odyssey: This story is set in a time before the events of God of War, where you will experience Kratos' journey during the 10yrs of servitude to the Gods of Olympus.
  • All New Combat Moves: Players can utilize new brutal combat moves along with their favorite combo attacks from the God of War franchise.
  • Exploration: From the Gates of Hades to the Depths of Tartarus, your journey will take you through the dark and brutal world of Greek Mythology. Face-off against all new creatures from Greek Mythology and engage in epic boss battles.
  • Puzzle Solving: As you explore the ancient world, prepare to navigate through a labyrinth of challenging puzzles inter-woven into the story. Critically-Acclaimed Franchise: Brought to you by two award-winning development teams, Sony Computer Entertainment America, Santa Monica Studios and Ready At Dawn.

God of War
Chains of Olympus

Ready at Dawn
US Released
Mar '08