When word got out that Ready at Dawn would be tackling one of Sony's largest franchises, God of War, and bringing it over to the PSP, optimism was pretty high. The team, responsible for the splendid Daxter, did a fantastic job of bringing the Jak and Daxter world into the palm of our hands. Furthermore, after seeing how well Sony's other platformer, Ratchet & Clank, has turned out on the PSP, was there ever even a reason to doubt God of War: Chains of Olympus as being anything but superb?
Of course not! With the final game in my hands as I write this, I can wholeheartedly say that Ready at Dawn are masters when it comes down to pushing every little bit out of the PSP. God of War on the PSP is the very same God of War that you've seen twice on the PlayStation 2, but the great thing about Chains of Olympus is that you can take it with you anywhere you go.
I have no qualms in saying that God of War: Chains of Olympus may very well be the best PSP game available – I simply can't think of anything that comes remotely close to being this spectacular. Ready at Dawn has created a practically perfect console-to-handheld translation, blurring the lines between the two units. As soon as you pick the game up, you feel right at home.
The effortless feeling of control and combat has carried over extremely well; practically perfect, in fact. The combat is extremely responsive, and remains the one trait that assures a very satisfying and addictive experience. The mini-game boss kills are back in full swing, as are a number of other features. You can employ powers of various bosses that you defeat, simply by holding down the R shoulder and pressing Triangle.
You'll be able to upgrade your weapons by using all of the orbs you pick up throughout the game. With each upgrade comes added weapon strength, as well as new moves gained. In addition to upgrading your Blades of Chaos, you'll also be able to enhance various other things, such as your specific magic powers – again, which are acquired when defeating various bosses. On top of that, scattered around the game will be status enhancing items. There are a number of different items, all with their own unique enhancement – collect five of each and you'll be rewarded with increased health, magic, among other abilities.
Furthermore, most of the moves you're used to pulling off have made the transition into Chains of Olympus, but in addition to that, Ready at Dawn also took a creative initiative by adding a number of new moves for Kratos – and they are pretty awesome. In addition to that, as you play the game, you'll notice that the A.I. will fight between each other – so, in the beginning of the game, you'll actually see your fellow Spartans fighting against the enemy Persian army.
As expected, the story will, of course, be unveiled through a series of cut-scenes, all of which are voice acted. Moreover, because this is a prequel, God of War: Chains of Olympus does a great job of showing you the origins of Kratos' past, and how puppeteered he was by the Gods. Now, despite being on a smaller medium, perhaps the most shocking aspect of the PSP's God of War is its length. Chains of Olympus is about as long as its two console siblings. Where as the first two can clock in at around 10-12 hours, Chains of Olympus is good for about 8-10 – but it'll probably end up a 20 hour experience, as you'll want to replay the game, to unlock certain features.
Everything about God of War Chains of Olympus feels so meticulously crafted, and the more you play it the more it becomes apparent that this is quite a labor of love. Ready at Dawn impressed with Daxter, but they've absolutely blown me away with God of War. To bring over every gameplay element so flawlessly is something I never thought would've been possible on the current PSP. How long we've come from the days of the GameBoy and GameGear.
Upon beginning the game, my first reaction was a gleaming "how the hell did they do this?!" – exaggerated exclamation point, and all. While I wouldn't go as far as to say that the game looks as good as the original God of War did on the PS2, it is damn close! You'd have to be really nit-picky when it comes down to the game's visuals, because along with Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, GOW: Chains of Olympus may very well end up being one of the very best looking PSP games ever.
The details in animation seem to be identical to that of the original two games on the PS2. There are no hiccups and no choppy strings of animation – it's all as smooth as silk. You haven't seen a game animate this well on a handheld, ever. There is some screen tearing during certain parts, but it's not terrible, especially considering how amazing the rest of the game looks. What's more is that despite all of the chaos that goes on, caused by you, there's a whole bunch more of it going on in the background. And that's not the end of it.
Even though it's on the PSP, Chains of Olympus still features no shortage of absurdly gigantic monsters, which you'll each pulverize to their respective bloody deaths. Best of all, the framerate doesn't even seem to take the slightest hit. Plus, if you happen to own a PSP Slim, you can play this on your HDTV, and you'll still find yourself impressed by its visuals. Sony has found a developer that is truly harnessing the power of the PlayStation Portable.
The audio is executed every bit as well on the PSP as it was on the PS2. The voice actors behind the past two games, including Kratos, continue to shine in Chains of Olympus, and the delivery of each line is superbly done. Chains of Olympus still features the signature God of War orchestrated soundtrack, complete with war drums in the background that do a great job of keeping tensions high. The audio is fantastic stuff here, but did you expect anything less?
With Patapon and God of War: Chains of Olympus, the PSP is looking extremely nice this early on into 2008. And with Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII still on the way, things are going to get better. That said, there's no denying that God of War: Chains of Olympus is arguably the best PlayStation Portable game to date. There is simply nothing on the console that comes close to its polish, gameplay, and production values. To have a game as epic as God of War in the palm of your hands is absolute bliss. This game alone makes purchasing a PSP worthy – no fan of the series, or the action genre, should be without it.