The appearance of Kratos, the star of the God of War series, on the PSP isn’t at all surprising. In fact, he’s just the latest in a long line of staunch Sony loving characters that have made the jump to the handheld world to try and help the PSP catch up with the DS in the sales stakes.
The God of War games have constantly been all about masses of huge battles against a plethora of beasties, including hulking great multi-storey examples to be taken down via some handy quick time events. There are no subtle plot points, or stealth sections to break up the brutal nature of the combat. Nope, it’s solely about lopping off limbs, and causing as much bloody death as your button mashing fingers can manage.
Set before the events of the first God of War title, Chains of Olympus does a handy job at filling in some of the back story that culminated in the beginnings of the first PS2 title. As yarns go, it's standard fare, and won’t ever be mentioned up there with the best gaming has ever had to offer. But it refuses to make you cringe, which is usually the best an action game can ever hope for.
As expected, it’s all about the brutal combat. Kratos isn’t one to hold off a bit of bloodlust, so expect the body count to be rapidly spiralling upwards within minutes of loading up the game. Immensely powerful combo’s are simple to master, leaving you cutting great swathes through your enemies with devilish ease.
Slaughtering enemies gives you a collection of red orbs that can be utilised to upgrade your abilities and health. In fact, chances are you’ll find yourself with maximum stats as you approach the game's conclusion, somewhat losing the strategy of only upgrading what you use.
Slightly different to the God of War titles on the PS2 is the strange lack of platforming and puzzle sections. Though simplistic brain scratches do pop up from time to time, there’s a real lack compared to the titles on Sony’s home console. What this means is much more of the cracking slaughtering action that so many gamers love, which is never much of a bad thing. But it can feel like a bit of a miss, particularly due to the games not too lengthy single-player story which won’t take more than 6 hours to finish in its entirety.
What you can’t say is that the PSPs limitations have left us with a poorer looking title. With the PS2 God of War titles offering the kind of visuals that beat even some of the big hitters on the HD ready consoles, hopes were high that the PSP iteration could prove once and for all that Sony’s handheld is a wickedly powerful machine. Chains of Olympus duly delivers with some stunning aesthetics, and the kind of fast paced action that wouldn’t look too out of place even on the PS3.
In spite of the limitations of the platform, God of War: Chains of Olympus is not only stellar title for the PSP, but a stunning game outright.
Alright so it’s missing some of the adventuring aspects that made the PS2 titles such a joy, but this PSP prequel is both technically and gameplay wise one of the very best that the PSP is ever likely to be able to offer. Get it snapped up.