I've been on a bloody good tear with video games of late, but perhaps none of them are bloodier than the exploits of Kratos in the God of War series. There's currently 2 PSP games in the series out there, and this is the earlier of the two, Chains of Olympus.
For those unfamiliar with this Sony exclusive series, these games are a mesh of combat, puzzle-solving and platforming in a 3D environment set in a fantasy version of ancient Greece. Chains of Olympus is actually a prequel to the original God of War game that came out on the PS2 some years ago.
Now, most of my PSP favorites are some form of action or strategy game. I just don't often feel comfortable playing action style games on the smaller screen, whether it's due to the controls, the smaller screen, weaker audio - whatever the combination of reasons are, I usually wind up disappointed. So, question is - how well does Kratos' prequel translate to the small screen?
Graphics - 10:
For the PSP, this game's visuals are absolutely amazing. Right on par for me with Crisis Core which I thought had some of the best cinema screens of any PSP game to date. God of War however, keeps the impressive presentation going right through the gameplay itself. There are moments of epic backdrops where you really just have to take in everything that's happening around you, and it's all brought in a tear and stutter free framerate that keeps the action moving along perfectly.
Sound & Graphics - 10:
The voice acting is generally good, the sound effects are varied and compliment what is happening on screen. The music in these games is amazing, and the PSP version does not disappoint on that front. A great sound track that really brings out the best in the action and atmosphere.
Gameplay - 9:
It's a tried and true formula that has been imitated a lot over the last several years, but this series still does the combat better than most. The RPG elements really keep you invested as well. As you topple more powerful enemies, you unlock new abilities and spells that can be leveled up through the red orbs you gather. On top of that, there are platforming and puzzle elements to help break up the action. Now, I will admit the platforming stuff sometimes got on my nerves, and this series for all of the things it does right, does sometimes struggle in that regard in my opinion. However, the PSP game did not often leave me feeling like I died cheaply and the controls actually work very well despite the fact there are fewer interface buttons than the ps3 controller.
Intangibles - 7:
It's a great game, but it is a bit on the short side - I think I beat it in about eight hours. The puzzles are good, and only once or two really had me annoyed. The storyline was interesting and there's plenty of things to unlock along the way. There are some bonus content as well, such as The Challenge of Hades which is a series of trials. You can unlock new costumes for other playthroughs and even some cool art and behind the scenes stuff as well.
Overall - 9:
The game is a bit light on replay value and there are no online modes of any kind. That said, if you enjoy these types of combat-oriented action games, then you will probably find a good deal to like here. It is a game that can be found pretty inexpensively as well - I've seen it at use game shops for around $8 and that is pretty hard to beat. Of note, this series is in no way appropriate for kids - I don't even let them go into my bedroom when I'm playing it, between the gore, language and nudity.