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If you like action, violence, and Greek Mythology, then you should definitely check out the God of War games. I would recommend them just for the combat alone. Slaying the mythological creatures in these games is extremely fun and the brutality becomes addictive. But if what if you wanted to bring that experience with you on-the-go? Well Chains of Olympus lets you do just that. Developed by Ready at Dawn and published by Sony Computer Entertainment, God of War: Chains of Olympus was released for PlayStation Portable in March, 2008. It was remastered and released for PlayStation 3 along with God of War: Ghost of Sparta as part of the God of War: Origins Collection in 2011. For this review, I played the PS3 version.
Set before the events of the first God of War, Kratos is serving the Gods and after defeating the Persian King, Athena tasks him with finding the missing Sun God Helios. Morpheus takes advantage of his disappearance and puts the Gods into a slumber and covers the land in a black fog. Still haunted by the nightmares of his past, Kratos angrily slays countless mythological creatures on his quest to find the missing God. The voice acting is on par with the previous games and Kratos’ constant anger and intensity makes some of his deliveries humorous.
Veterans of the series should feel right at home with the gameplay in Chains of Olympus. Kratos can walk, run, jump, double jump, grab, evade or roll, and block. He uses weapons and magic abilities to combat enemies and acquires relics to aid him on his quest. Enemies release red orbs when killed but they can also be found by destroying objects and in chests. Red orbs can be spent to power up weapons and magic abilities, making them more powerful and unlocking additional moves. You can perform light and heavy attacks and chain attacks together to form combos. The bigger the combo, the more red orbs you earn. Taking damage drains health and using magic abilities drains through magic. Health and magic can be replenished by green and blue orbs respectively.
As expected, the camera is positioned in specific spots based on where Kratos is located. You can’t control it manually and some of the angles are not always ideal, making some encounters slightly frustrating. For the most part, the camera works well. Quick time events, a series staple, are prevalent throughout the game and they have their ups and downs. You’ll have to perform them to execute enemies, during boss battles, and to complete certain actions. Failure to press the correct button or rotating the stick in the wrong direction can result in losing health and sometimes death. There was a few times where it seemed like the game didn’t recognize my inputs which was frustrating.
Kratos will wield the Blades of Chaos as his primary weapon and eventually acquire the Gauntlet of Zeus. The Gauntlet is a powerful weapon that can shatter stone and iron. Weapons are just one way to destroy enemies. You can also utilize magic abilties. You can summon a fire spirit to set enemies on fire, unleash solar flares, and blast flames at enemies that do relentless damage for a brief time. Each weapon and ability is fun to use and powering them up will make you feel extremely powerful, even overpowered, depending on the difficulty. There are multiple difficulty modes and if you play on Mortal which equates to Normal, the game can feel like a breeze, especially if you’re a series veteran. For one thing, you can spam certain moves to easily win battles with lower-tier enemies and powered up weapons and magic abilities make it extremely easy to destroy most foes.
Knowing when to block, evade, and strike are important when up against tough types and bosses but I would say the game is more forgiving than its predecessors. The game throws more and more tough types at you as you progress and you’ll always be outnumbered but I didn’t find any of the encounters too challenging. You’ll engage some new foes like the Morpheus Beast for example along with familiar foes like soldiers, archers, Minotaurs, Gorgons, Satyrs, and Harpies. I felt overpowered most of the time and Chains of Olympus doesn’t feature enough variety. It’s fun but it’s not as exciting as its predecessors. The previous games would not only throw more and more tough enemy types at you as you progressed but put you in unique situations and set pieces. For example, engaging enemies while avoiding environmental hazards or riding Pegasus while be attacked by Griffins and Ravens. The games were always throwing something new at you to keep things interesting and exciting. Chains of Olympus doesn’t reach the same highs.
You can beat the story in Chains of Olympus in about half the time it would take you to beat either of the previous games. The game will take you through the city of Attica, temples, and caves. You’ll progress through primarily linear environments so it’s not hard to figure out where to go but there are some secret areas off the beaten path which house goodies like resources and items. You can permanently increase your health and magic by collecting enough Gorgon Eyes and Phoenix Feathers respectively. You will have to solve puzzles to progress and can save your game manually only at certain points but the checkpoint system is forgiving.
I would say Chains of Olympus looks pretty good overall. For a remaster of a PSP game that is. The environments are diverse and detailed and the character models look good. My only gripe with the presentation is that it looks a bit washed out. The combat looks brutal thanks to the cool executions and gore effects. You can decapitate foes, slit their throats, and stab a Cyclops in the eye. The action is accompanied by a decent soundtrack but I thought the music in the previous games was better. The audio work in general is solid with satisfying sounds of slashes and impacts and enemies making different noises. On the technical side, the performance was solid and I encountered a missing texture at one point but no major issues.
Ultimately, I liked Chains of Olympus and had fun playing it. However, there’s not much here that we haven’t seen before. I think it’s great if you’re looking for a portable God of War experience and think the PS3 version is a good remaster. But I can’t deny it’s more of the same. It’s just not as exciting or challenging. Some things I can let go because it was developed for the PSP. It’s your typical God of War experience originally designed for a smaller screen. If you liked the gameplay of the previous games, you’ll like this. And it does have some replay value. If you meet certain requirements you can unlock bonus costumes, behind-the-scenes content, and a series of challenges to complete.
I would recommend God of War: Chains of Olympus, especially this remaster and fans of the series should enjoy what’s on offer even if there’s no surprises here. It’s basically everything you would expect from a God of War game. It’s a portable God of War game remastered in HD and it feels like it. I think there are better games in the series but Chains of Olympus is certainly worth checking out.