Kratos is back!

User Rating: 9 | God of War: Chains of Olympus PSP
God of War: Chains of Olympus is the much-awaited prequel to one of the most popular series on the Playstation system. There's much speculation as to how the game will turn out, because the God of War games for the PS2 were just some of the most beautifully executed games to date. How will the PSP live up to its console cousin? How will it match the graphics of God of War 1 and 2; or make the controls feel familiar; or keep the story interesting? Is it fun enough to be a worthy addition to the revered franchise?

The game features a great premise: what Kratos was doing during his ten years of blind servitude to the gods. It's a predictable start to a prequel, of course, but the beefy part of this tale are the events that transpired at the end of those ten years. Persia attacks a city and Kratos, along with his army, is tasked to fend off the invasion. On the battlefield, foes gather around Kratos, unaware of their certain doom from the chains that sear the Spartan's arms. On the background are an array of Persian ships, all poised to dock and unleash its cargo of armor-clad slaves and mercenaries. This kind of beginning itself will fuel one's expectations for the rest of the game.

But you needn't worry about how the game will unfurl because the creative team at ReadyAtDawn put great effort that was equally seen from the work done in the original God of War series. The story is fantastic: A brand-new weird event has occurred in Kratos' life and it's up to him to correct this malfunction of the gods. Two opposing forces are in chaos, the creatures of the game-world are in frenzy, and there's a plot to destroy the world. It's a simple hero-tale, but the manner of telling it is quite satisfying. Because the story is basically simple, it's only normal to expect that the game itself won't really push itself into a ten-hour-plus tale. So, yeah, the game's short. Without the room-by-room battle-stages, the game would be summed up into only 3 hours or so, puzzles and all. The game actually sums up to about 5-6 hours or so. But despite its misgivings, the story is still fun to know, and the combat complements such a story well. It's an emotional journey for Kratos. It's almost parallel to Darth Vader's account concerning his fall into darkness. Chains of Olympus(I'll call it CoO during the rest of the review) chronicles the reason Kratos deems nothing but vengeance against the gods. The story greatly leans on God of War 1, so non-God of War gamers beware of sudden confusing points in the story that's only fully seen in part one.

One of the frequent gamer questions is "how will the game look?" Preview pictures on gaming magazines did once look deceiving, but really, the game is like its PS2 pals. The sets are beautiful; the character animations are superb; the lighting effects are also worth noting here. It's really a graphically rewarding game that lets hand-held gamers feel like their needs are also entertained. The puzzles, though not as engaging as the original's, are also fun to solve and they present good progression in the game, as they virtually affect how Kratos proceeds through the game-world. The game's set-pieces are expansive in architectural scale. When Kratos progresses to a seemingly inappreciable location, the camera is then left behind, and will extend its view to feature the artful landmark of the succeeding area. It's part of how the developers want the gamers to see the attention they gave to detail; of their desire to show a remarkable world to immerse in. The level design is unique and it fills you in as you tilt that analog stick to move Kratos around and explore.

The sound-effects are still jaw-dropping; every clash with Kratos' foes sound like Christmas (in hell, that is). Creatures each give a distinct cry that's a head's up to their aggressiveness. Big foes gurgle or growl as if their mouths can't carry the weight of their teeth; smaller baddies screech and murmur about, just to show that they're foolish and willing to lend upgrade-, health-, or energy-points to Kratos. The voice-work is also well done, with Kratos' familiar screams ringing on your earphones. The narrative is fully voiced so expect some great performances here. The music is also epic; the orchestrations are all too familiar to the God of War blend, but it's still amazing to hear. The music rises to climactic points in the game, such as battles or emotional narratives; and it also becomes melancholic yet mysterious during puzzle-solving. It's the best one can get from an A-lister of a game.

Combat is also typical God of War hack and slash, with combos accenting the styles and special moves done by the anti-hero (anti-god, more like). Kratos' chains are joined by a new weapon, the Gauntlet of Zeus, which is the only alternate weapon Kratos'll have in this game. There's magic as well, but it's limited and you really wont appreciate them too long before the magic bar gets drained. Grabbing enemies using the O button is a staple in the series, and CoO is no exception. Expect to either be thrilled or appalled when you grab an enemy and the camera zooms in to exhibit the entire butchering. Weakened bosses and mini-bosses also get the grab treatment, and a cineractive section is activated, where specific buttons are used to perform and complete the finishing move. Too bad the mini-bosses' cineractive kill-sequences are only grounded to one-per-enemy-type, but they're still cool to look at. The game could use more bosses, but CoO only presents a few. Still, battle's fun with those bosses, even though the final boss is really too easy.

Extra features include new costumes for Kratos to wear, most of them hilarious to see; videos that will be unlocked when players finish God-mode; and the traditional 'Challenge' mode that produces extra play-time.

CoO is an incredible journey through Greek mythology. Kratos still shows his best, though the console controller will still be the better medium to show-off his skills. God of War fans will surely appreciate this offering. This game will also please first-time God of War gamers, but it's really important to play every chapter in Kratos' unfavorable life. If you're in for a superb story that won't leave blanks on your mind as it progresses, then play God of War on PS2, then play CoO. Otherwise, you'll only just be playing this game out of sheer sadism.