God of War: Chains of Olympus Review

Few compromises were made on this portable God of War game and that’s an achievement indeed.

The experiences home consoles and a portable consoles offer have always differed significantly. After all, when porting a game from a console to a portable device, concessions need to be made, content needs to be cut and so on. At least that’s what I thought before playing action adventure game God of War: Chains of Olympus. Few compromises were made on this portable God of War game and that’s an achievement indeed. Previous games in the God of War series received critical acclaimed for their pristine technical qualities, entertaining combo system, intuitive controls and larger-than-life boss encounters. Luckily,every single one of those elements is still a significant part of Chains of Olympus.

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Just in case you were wondering, there are QTEs.

In terms of story, God of War: Chains of Olympus’ takes place between Ascension and the original God of War. As usual, the game puts you in the shoes of Kratos, the former captain of the Spartan army and once servant of Ares. Kratos now serves the Olympian Gods, since they promised that they’ll free the Spartan from the nightmares that torment him. During this adventure you’ll explore an alternate version of ancient Greece which is populated by gods, titans and other elements from Greek mythology. There’s not much else I can say about the story, since this particular aspect has never been God of War’s strongest suit.

The gameplay, on the other hand, is still terrific. Something that immediately caught my attention was that controls were re-assigned due to the lack of a second analog stick. Although there are some minor changes, performing attacks, stringing combos, parrying, blocking, climbing and swimming is an intuitive process. As in previous games in the series, you can attack enemies, launch them into the air, grab them, perform QTEs (called context sensitive attacks in the game) and more. Everything I just mentioned, happens in a fluid and convincing manner. Additionally, if you played the original God of War or God Of War 2, you’ll notice that the moves you used in those games are still here. To be fair, you don’t have access to as many weapons, spells and relics, but since the size of this adventure is smaller to that of the home console games, you won’t miss any of them.

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There are also larger-than-life battles.

While you spend a lot of time performing combos, God of War: Chains of Olympus involves more than just killing cyclops, basilisks and other creatures from the Greek mythology. Puzzles also punctuate your adventure and when the game presents one of those, you need to make use of spells, levers, statues, rotten corpses, giant buttons and so on. Puzzles aren’t as demanding as the ones in the PS2 entries and while you need to think of a way to solve them depending on your special powers or surroundings, pulling levers or pushing buttons isn’t as challenging as rotating rooms in the Chamber of the Gods like you did in the original God of War. Little by little, puzzles become more and more difficult, but they never reach the level of complexity and satisfaction of those found in God of War or God of War 2.

It’s almost impossible to talk about the game’s combat without making reference to some of the new weapons and powers. Although these new resources don’t change the way in which you approach the different levels, they expand the gamut of possibilities when it comes to defeating enemies. My favorite new weapon is the Gauntlet of Zeus which is a large glove you use to perform heavy and light attacks by punching anything in your path.

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Enormous bosses? Check.

The rest of the experience remains pretty much untouched which is great news for fans of the series. Defeating enemies gets you red orbs which you can use to upgrade your equipment and unlock new moves. There are also hidden special items (read: Gorgon Eyes and Phoenix Feathers) which increase your health and magic meters.

From a technical standpoint, God of War: Chains of Olympus is simply outstanding. Not only does the game feel like a true God of War title, but definitely looks like one as well. The characters’ animations look fluid and smooth, there are larger-than-life moments, gargantuan boss fights and so on. In other words, this is the God of War you know and love from the home consoles and the only difference is that you’re playing this one on a smaller screen. Also, despite what most people might think, this game doesn’t drain the battery that fast, even if the game pushes the portable console’s limit in ways most PSP games haven’t.

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And the violent subject matter is the last ingredient.

Finishing God of War: Chains of Olympus should take you around 5 hours, but despite what this might suggest, Chains of Olympus doesn’t feel like a short game. Mainly because it manages to tell a cohesive and convincing tale in those 5 hours and at no point does it feel contrived. Still, once you finish the main adventure, you can replay the entire campaign again in the hardest difficulty levels, watch all the bonus content you’ve unlocked or play several challenges.

God of War: Chains of Olympus is a terrific entry in the series and it never ceases to amaze. After all, the controls are intuitive, the technical aspect is fantastic, the story is remarkably well told and the combo system is fluid and entertaining. If you’ve played previous games in the God of War franchise, Chains of Olympus will grab you and won’t let go until the end credits roll.