The third title in a series that has garnered much respect since its arrival in 2005, God of War: Chains of Olympus marked something of a change for Sony’s twisted vision of Greek mythology. Launching 15 years ago today, not only was it the first in the series to stray away from the PlayStation 2 – and onto the PlayStation Portable, no less – but also it’s the first title being developed outside of Sony’s Santa Monica studio.
The honour was given to Ready At Dawn. A team which at the time mainly comprised of former Naughty Dog and Blizzard Entertainment employees, and who found success with their first PSP release Daxter. The team also developed the Wii port of Capcom’s Okami before moving onto original IP with The Order: 1886. Subsequently, the studio has specialised in VR, eventually leading to an acquisition by Meta.
God of PSP
In adapting God of War to the small screen, Ready At Dawn pulled-off a convincing job. The title plays as it predecessors; set camera angles play host to a series of combat set pieces interspersed with puzzles. The Camera is as exquisitely developed as that of the original and never leaves the player feeling cheated. The player can swoop-out until the infamous Kratos is nothing more than a handful of blinking pixels, and burst into action as his Blades of Chaos illuminate the surroundings. The level design is again that of wonder, with screen-filling bosses aplenty and predictable but clever pacing through-out the first-half of the title. The closing act sees the release stutter somewhat, delving into a repetition of old bosses and a distinct lack of anything inspiring. But the handheld adaptations of gracious checkpoint placement and slick framerates will see the player continuing regardless.
God of War: Chains of Olympus is a Product of it’s Era
Much like The Creative Assembly’s Viking: Battle For Asgard, God of War: Chains of Olympus pushes the QTEs a little too far. In the first outing of the series, having to press a series of buttons as they appear on-screen to finish-off bosses or special enemies was an interesting and well-used technique. Here, it seems as though Ready At Dawn have taken the initiative of “more is better”, and ran with it. When almost every enemy encounter results in needing to best several of the enemies with a cut-away segment, it very much distracts from the flow of the combat; an element which the God Of War series previously excelled at far beyond any of the competition.
The controls remain almost identical to the PlayStation 2 releases. The face button setup is familiar, and the aforementioned Blades of Chaos remain the main weapon in the title. The L and R Buttons are used to dodge and defend, and the new glowing Sun Shield features some nice effects. A few other new weapons are included and some new magic abilities, and while they may not feel entirely original, the reestablishment of the items within the storyline at least leaves them feeling fresh. Levelling-up your weapons follows the exact same routine – and even uses the exact same menu screens – as the original title, and is done by collecting Red Orbs from killing enemies or destroying scenery.
Lower Spec, Same Expectations
God of War: Chains of Olympus features many concessions for being a handheld adaptation, and the graphical quality is no exception. While lighting effects are still dynamic and the animation is excellently rendered, the polygon count on character models and surrounding areas is quite clearly substantially lower. Few graphical glitches occur, far fewer than the majority of the title’s 3D Action competition on the PSP, but are a fault that simply wasn’t evident in the title’s PlayStation 2 brethren.
As many of the assets are reused, so is the soundtrack. Exactly the same as that featured in God of War II, there’s enough depth to keep you satisfied, if not enthralled.
God of War’s ‘Adult’ Content Hits Soft in Chains of Olympus
Sex is a topic which is rather controversial in the videogames industry. With many harbouring a desire for a wider appreciation of the adult notions that videogames can carry, it seems that only the likes of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and its Hot Coffee fiasco and the so-called full-frontal alien nudity in Mass Effect get any attention. In 2008, God of War’s take on sexuality hadn’t progressed in the slightest. Its sexual role-play stagnated. Offering the exact same mini-game as the first title was unquestionably nothing more than a titular affair. For all it’s worth as a product for gamers with a taste for Greek mythology, God of War: Chains Of Olympus would never aid the industry’s desire to be seen as a serious medium.
While God of War: Chains of Olympus remains a very good game, it would be difficult for any fan to say they aren’t slightly disappointed. This may well be because the series has set it’s own bar so high in previous titles, a handheld offering would simply never be able to compete. Easily remaining one of the best titles on the PSP, God of War: Chains of Olympus will provide a solid twelve hours of entertainment. But for those hardcore fans of the series, the last five could well be considered a little frustrating.