Developer: Ready at Dawn Studios
Release Date: 03/04/2008
Also Available On
Chains of Olympus was probably the single biggest PSP release during the entire console’s life cycle. It was one of the first games everyone wanted for the system and Ready at Dawn delivered with a God of War experience just like the console version and no cut corners.
The game takes place between the first two games with Kratos continuing his journey to rid every god on Olympus and his quest to kill Zeus. He finds himself discovering more nightmares of his past, his daughter, and various new gods not seen in previous games. The story is just fine and feels just like a God of War game, but it’s very short and can be finished in less than 4 hours.
I remember starting up this game for the first time and seeing half of Kratos’ face in the main menu, just like in previous games, and pressing that new game button. The game starts you out at the Battle of Attica fighting off a giant Basilisk sent to destroy the city by the Persians. I knew the game would have an epic first boss fight and a giant city to fight in as the previous games did as well. You also have to remember that this was released two years after God of War II so there wasn’t much else to go off of at the time. Thankfully this game carved its own path in the God of War series and later games actually borrowed things from this game.
Surprisingly the controls work out just fine with the handheld version. pressing the shoulder buttons and moving the analog nub allows you to dodge. The combat and animations are gorgeous and the game runs at 30FPS most of the time. Very rarely did it ever drop below that and sometimes even went up to 60FPS in smaller areas. Everything about this game is so familiar yet somehow slightly evolved from GoWII. The moves are more fluid and upgrades are a bit different as well. New magic items and a brand new weapon are introduced as well.
The Gauntlet of Zeus is a giant fist that brings slower more powerful hits, sadly due to the short length only one extra weapon was introduced. Efreet is the new AOE magic attack that uses fire damage, Light of Dawn is a long-range magic attack, and Charon’s Wrath stuns enemies. Kratos also gets a shield in the game allowing new counter-attacks and throwing back projectiles at enemies. The whole combat system as a whole feels new and enhanced enough to make this feel like a sequel rather than a spin-off.
Just like in previous games, you can upgrade your magic and health with hidden Phoenix Feather and Gorgon Eye chests, as well as using red orbs to upgrade items. Most of the hidden chests are easy to find if you explore all areas and pay attention to breakable walls and side paths. The best part about this game is the new enemies and bosses which is what makes God of War so epic to begin with.
After beating the Basilisk you will come across a few other bosses, but they aren’t large epic enemies like previous games, they are smaller and more challenging combat wise which is fine for the story that it delivers. I don’t want to spoil the game and tell you all the bosses right here, but the final boss proved quite a challenge and will test your reflexes for sure.
The environments are also amazing as with any God of War game with huge set pieces, massive buildings, giant statues, and various background stuff going on. Chains of Olympus was the best-looking handheld game ever released at the time and stunned everyone. It sold more PSP systems, which was good, and was the main reason why most people bought a PSP. The lighting effects and textures look great and are a step up over God of War II. There are some noticeable aliasing and audio compression, but overall the game seems impossibly good on the small system. This was also the first PSP game to use the full 333MHz of the CPU and required an update before playing.
Overall, Chains of Olympus is a milestone and a pinnacle game in the handheld market and showed just how much of a powerhouse Sony’s handheld was back in the day. Sadly, we never got a new God of War on Vita, but this game is playable on that system as a PSP download.