After the short and sweet opening cinema detailing the you-whomp-â€˜em-Persian-guards objective, youâ€™ll become immediately aware that the tried and true hack-â€˜n-slash formula is in full, familiar force in Ready At Dawnâ€™s God of War: Chains of Olympus. Fortunately, that means loads of enemies on screen to catch the business end of Kratosâ€™ blades in the neck, eyeballs or frequently bisected torso. In true God of War fashion, Chains of Olympus flows at a smooth pace as players progress through mythological Greece as a tormented and violently angered, hopping from one legendary location to another.
Unfortunately, the amount of backtracking required to progress to a new setting limits the amount of scenic routes to about a half dozen. Puzzle solving on COO, while equally satisfying and tedious, requires hiking it through entire temples or caves, which are shockingly huge and completely devoid of load times. Navigating Kratos from one end of a city to another, through buildings, over bridges and vertically towards rooftops, is seamless and without framerate drops.
The scope of this game is as impressive as its art style and visual design. Epic views of a crumbling town, complete with a look-out of your future path, compliment the great character models and beautiful textures. Facial and combat animations are spot on, and the dialogue â€“ while irritatingly pretentious â€“ is well delivered throughout the entirety of Kratosâ€™ six hour, vengeful adventure, which will requre you to do nothing but rapidly beat the hell out of your square button to succeed.
The length of the game might seem too short, but the repetition of the square-square-square combat and overpowered magic attacks will have you thankful that itâ€™s over when it is. The story is almost non-existent â€“ perfect for those who just want to get their killinâ€™ on â€“ focusing exclusively on Kratos trying to, you guessed it, rid himself of his torturing memories in this prequel to the console predecessors.
Because this has no reference to the original games, anyone whoâ€™s been avoiding the franchise until now will be completely at a loss as to whatâ€™s going on, and the limited insight COO offers to fans is practically worthless, with a mere taste of satisfaction in the final moments of the game.
Until that point, youâ€™ll be mashing away on the square and triangle button â€“ with little deviation from square â€“ to deal with the identical mass of undead baddies. It makes for boring action when youâ€™re smacking the same action button repeatedly until everyone falls down, and when you consider the complete absence of enemy AI outside the monstrous enemies, itâ€™s even less of a satisfying experience.
The complexity offered is in the magic, adding a press of the R button in sync with an attack as Kratos brings on the fury of flames in punching and throwing form, and holding L while attacking to make the angry fella spin in circles, making him an almost invincible death dealer in an already too-easy game.
Adding a Gauntlet as a secondary weapon is, for the most part, useless. Intuitively tied to the Down d-pad key, Zeusâ€™ Gauntlet costs you limited attack range in exchange for an unnoticeable increase in attack damage and loss of speed. Youâ€™re best off if you stick to the Blades of Chaos, since the aforementioned square tapping will get the job done in no time.
If you want the job done even quicker, combat can be completely eliminated by the Circle/ grab move. The insta-kill shaves off seconds of time and mounds off effort. Without having to weaken soldiers down, youâ€™ll avoid the need to execute enemies, which consists of tapping buttons at the correct time that rarely correlate to anything thatâ€™s happening on screen, save for the inaccurate analog-nub rotation for decapitation. Itâ€™s annoying to have beaten the snot out of a mini-boss, such as a Cyclops â€“ of which there are too many, eliminating bigger bosses and, in turn, crazy-awesome memorable moments â€“ or bigger-than-usual minotaur.
Sound familiar? Thatâ€™s because new enemies are nearly non-existent. I donâ€™t know if they skipped town at the beginning when Attica is being burned by a gigantic Basilisk in the opening scene (one of the best fights in the series) but if youâ€™re looking for anything resembling even a pallet swap, youâ€™ll be disappointed to see the same sword wielding, helmet donned zombies eating your sword over and over.
Still, despite the lack of â€œholy crap, that was awesomeâ€ moments, God of War: Chains of Olympus is still fun. The combat never struck me as entertaining, but fans of the franchise will appreciate the similarity to the console versions, including the same controls and attacks, as well as an intuitive R+L+Move replacement for the right-analog-roll. This feels like a God of War game from front to back, inside and out. Epic battles may be scarce, but if youâ€™re in to cutting up legions of faceless baddies in a batch of new, beautiful scenes, Chains of Olympus is absolutely worth your time. This probably wonâ€™t convert the haters â€“ though it did kind of impress this one â€“ itâ€™s definitely one of the most impressive titles on PSP, with a ton of replay value if you feel the need to wreck more cow-men and single-eyed monsters. The ending pulls everything together in a pretty emotional set of decisions made by the loathing Kratos, but everything leading up to it is just more of the same.
But hey, if youâ€™re in to that, this is the stuff from the heavens. If not, just hold Earth on your shoulders for all eternity â€“ itâ€™ll be more exciting.
[Rating: 7.5/10.0] 7.5/10