God of War: Chains of Olympus First Look

The mighty Ready at Dawn slaps on its Grecian regalia and brings Kratos to the PSP. Mythical creatures beware!

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Sony showed off the highly anticipated PSP game, God of War: Chains of Olympus at its recent press event to a bevy of press anxious to see just how you cram an action game, such as God of War, onto the portable system. While such a mythic feat seems like madness, development studio Ready at Dawn is likely one of the few PSP developers that could pull it off. The fledgling developer hit the scene with a mighty ocelot-shaped splash with Daxter for the PSP. A stunning platformer starring the chattier half of the Jak and Daxter duo, Daxter set a new bar for visual fidelity on the PSP that matched its shiny graphics with fun gameplay. If the guided demo of Chains of Olympus is to be believed, the studio appears to be topping its Daxter work here.

The game tells an original story set in the not-so-fun time between the unfortunate death of Kratos' family and the start of the original God of War. You'll catch up and take control of Kratos as he's winding down a siege in Attica. Some trouble ensues, and he finds himself heading off to track down a dragonlike creature intent on stomping everything "Godzilla" style. The chase will run throughout the city and culminate in a minigame wherein you show him what's what by carefully hitting specific buttons.

While we couldn't play the game, we hit up the Ready at Dawn rep on hand for more information. The rep noted that the game was still coming together, but that it's planned to have unlockable content similar to the console games. In terms of playtime, the team is hoping to come close to the original game's length.

The visuals in the game have the same impressive kick as Daxter, but they surpass them, thanks to the detailed, stylized visuals that skew more realistically. Ordinarily, we'd likely say it's hard to believe that a consolelike experience could be done on a portable, but we have to say we're impressed by what's been done so far. Animation is coming along, though it is a bit stiff in places. The sense of scale rocks the house as, even on the PSP, you still alternate between being dwarfed by spectacle and mingling with smaller folk. The special effects used to represent Kratos' powerful attacks are nicely done and make the most of the hardware. We especially like how nicely the game has kept its scale. The package isn't 100 percent perfect yet because there are a few performance issues and graphical glitches, but whatever noticeable rough spots there are, the game's promise tends to already overshadow them.

The audio in the game should please fans of the previous games because the soundtrack is being handled by the team responsible for the score in the console games. The same holds true for the voice acting in the game, which is being done by the key principals heard in the console games. The effects appear to be borrowing some elements heard in the console games, which gives the action a comfortable, familiar feel.

Based on the tiny bit we saw, God of War: Chains of Olympus looks to easily be one of the most anticipated PSP releases this year. The game already looks great, incomplete or not, and appears to be doing a good job of matching the style and atmosphere of its older cousin. The addition of weapons, moves, and magic while sticking to the GOW formula gives the game an impressive level of depth that should be perfect for fans of the console games. Best of all, the game's story, which is being kept tied to the lore laid out in the two console games, appears to be kept firmly steeped in the dramatic, bloody Greek tragedy vein, which has served the games so well. Barring any act of the gods, God of War: Chains of Olympus should be the title to watch out for when it ships later this year. Look for more on the game and its talented developers in the coming months.

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