God of War: Chains of Olympus Hands-On Preview

I love the God of War series. From the moment I picked up the first God of War at the insistence of a friend to watching behind the scenes interviews and talking to people who worked on the game for an academic essay on the use of classic mythology in games just a month ago, it’s been my favorite game(s) on any of the PlayStation systems. When I got the preview copy of the upcoming God of War: Chains of Olympus for the PSP in the mail, it was like my birthday and Festivus rolled into one.

For those unfamiliar with the series, God of War is about a spartan named Kratos who ends up working for Ares and the other gods on Mount Olympus before some shit goes down. (I’d say more, but I don’t want to ruin any of the games for potential newcomers to the series.) Suffice it to say that it’s a great blend of Greek mythology, contemporary takes on it, and a lot of stuff people like Jaffe made up just because it sounds cool.

While the God of War trilogy will conclude on the PS3 eventually, Chains of Olympus serves as a sidestory/prequel to the franchise, detailing what happened to Kratos and what he did in the ten years leading up to the first game. Oddly enough, Chains of Olympus can be compared pretty easily to the Star Wars prequels. (Before I even get on that track, let me say that Chains isn’t nearly as bad as Episode 1 and 2; it just has the same sort of vibe.)


God of War: Chains of Olympus


Episode 1 and 2 were obviously Star Wars but didn’t quite feel like it, and Chains of Olympus is the same way, albeit obviously with the God of War franchise and not Star Wars. The story (up to the several hours I’ve put into it) seems to jump from place to place, trying to cover a lot of ground in a little time rather than focus on one arching epic storyline with several small things along the way. Much like we saw the evolution of Anakin in the Star Wars prequels, we see a similar evolution in Kratos as he begins to question what he’s doing and all of that stuff. Unfortunately, there just isn’t a lot of real pressing need storywise in Chains of Olympus. Each new story addition and twist makes sense in a way, but it just doesn’t have that same feeling of epicness or awesomeness that God of War and God of War II had in spades. It’s almost like playing a series of sidequests in the God of War universe rather than playing a full God of War game.

That’s not to say the game isn’t good, though. I’m amazed at how well Ready at Dawn developed this game, and it’s by far the most impressive technical and visual feat I’ve ever seen on any handheld system. It easily passes as PS2 graphics, and there’s very little slowdown and no long loading times. How a sprite-based SRPG can load for 30 seconds and Chains of Olympus can load for 5 and be done I’ll never know.


God of War: Chains of Olympus


In terms of actual gameplay, it’s more or less the same God of War we’re used to; square is a quick attack while triangle is strong, you can do combos, use magic, upgrade your skills with red orbs, yadda yadda yadda. The only major difference is that with the lack of a right analog stick, for Kratos to roll you need to hold down L+R and move with the left stick. This can be really frustrating at times (since L and R do their own functions already), and for the most part it essentially forces you to either be in a blocking or rolling mood, making a lot of bigger fights similar to a last man standing punching match. With the default PSP analog stick, it’s also pretty frustrating to perform the on-screen tasks involving half rolls with the stick, because half the time it just doesn’t register right. So prepare to mess up a lot when you’re trying to kill a big monster or a boss if it involves any half-circles.

Despite the lackluster feeling I have so far with Chains of Olympus compared to the other two games in the series, I’m still having fun with it. Any God of War is better than no God of War, and as a huge diehard fan of the series I can safely say that it’s much improved over some of the earlier builds I tried, and still something Kratos fanatics should plan on picking up the day of release. Let’s just hope there’s no Greek equivalent to Jar Jar that finds his way into the final build. (Unless Kratos can rip his head off, of course.)


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Author: Brendon Lindsey View all posts by

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