First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
SCEA God of War: Chains of Olympus
- It retains all of the epic awesomeness of the first two God of War titles. Don't think for a second that just because it's on the PSP, it's any less amazing. The graphics are fantastic. Even though the PSP screen features less real estate, the game still shines with some incredible visuals. The controls are tight and responsive. If you were worried about the lack of a second analogue stick, don't be. The developers have come up with a system that works and works well.
- There isn't a great variety to the enemies. This also means that there aren't as many "fatality" sequences either. Everything feels just a little narrower in scope. While the game is still epic, it isn't as long nor is it as far-reaching as the previous two titles. You still have to lug boxes around to solve environmental puzzles.
Chains is a worthy addition to the franchise. While we want nothing more than to continue on with Kratos' journey towards the top of Mount Olympus and his final battle with Zeus, we were more than happy to take a short detour along the way and spend time with what we consider to be the best PSP title we've ever played. We suggest you do the same.
Price$ 59.95 (AUD)
Buy now (Selling at 2 stores)
Even though it's akin to sticking a stick into a hornet's nest, we're going to make a pretty bold statement here: the God of War franchise is the most important franchise in Sony's arsenal. Sure, Metal Gear and Grand Theft Auto are both important pieces to the potential success of the PS3 but God of War 3 has the potential to be the defining PS3 title.
We formed this opinion the minute God of War 3 was confirmed for the PS3 and it was recently bolstered by Chains of Olympus, a fantastic prequel that does a bang up job of fleshing out the Kratos mythos. Even though it appears on the handheld PSP, it's just as epic as the big console versions and it's a great teaser of what's to come.
Once Upon A Time
Making a prequel is usually a dicey proposition – heck, even well established storytellers like George Lucas struggle with them – so we were a little worried when we first booted up Chains of Olympus and saw the logo for a company that we had never heard of. Who the heck was Ready At Dawn? Did Sony really pick some no name upstart to do a God of War?
We decided to do a little digging and all of our fears were quickly dispelled: developer Ready At Dawn is comprised of former Naughty Dog and Blizzard employees and are also working on the Wii port of Capcom's Okami as well. That's a fairly impressive pedigree and if companies like Sony and Capcom are willing to hand the keys to two critically acclaimed franchises over to these guys then they must know what they're doing.
As the old saying goes, the proof is in the pudding, and from the very get-go, Chains of Olympus lives up to the high bar set by its two big console siblings. Taking place before the events of the first God of War, Chains follows Kratos as he sets out on his day job, namely doing the dirty work of the Gods. At this point, the trademark bitterness that he displays to Zeus and his merry gang hasn't yet solidified into the all-consuming lump of anger that it was at the end of God of War 2; it's there but it's still at a slow simmer. As the game progresses, Kratos gets embroiled in a plot to undo the world and of course, it's up to him to save the day.
Get A Grip
We don't want to spoil any secrets so we won't discuss the plot in detail but it follows the classic God of War formula. People get in Kratos' way, he cuts them down and moves on without so much as a backwards glance. The plot does have some genuinely poignant moments, however, including one where Kratos has to make a very tough choice. Even though the outcome is obvious, it adds a nice layer of texture to Kratos' personality.
The devs also did a great job with the controls: the lack of a second analogue stick could have been problematic but it's not. The basics are still in place and felt immediately familiar. You move with the analogue stick and jump with the X button; light attacks are mapped to Square, heavy attacks to Triangle and you grab with the Circle button. You block by holding down the left shoulder button; this also unleashes special attacks that you gain as you level up your weapons. The Right Shoulder button is used to activate your magic, such as the Light of Dawn – long distance weapon – and the Ifreet – short-range area of effect fire magic.
Now here's where it gets interesting: in order to dodge, you have to hold down both shoulder buttons and flick the analogue stick in the direction you want to go. It might sound like a complicated mess on paper but trust us, the control scheme works with nary a hitch. We didn't miss the second analogue stick at all, which is something we don't often say about PSP games.
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