Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: God Of War: Chains Of Olympus

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Electronic Theatre Image            The third title in a series that has garnered much respect since its arrival in 2005, God Of War: Chains Of Olympus marks somewhat of a change for SONY’s twisted vision of Greek mythology. Not only is it the first in the series to stray away from the PlayStation2 – and onto the PlayStation Portable, no less – but also it’s the first title being developed outside of SONY’s Santa Monica studio.

            That honour has now been given to Ready At Dawn, a team made mainlyElectronic Theatre Image of former Naughty Dog and Blizzard Entertainment employees, and who found success with their first PSP release Daxter. The team are also currently responsible for the Wii port of Capcom’s unsung PlayStation2 hero; Okami.

            In adapting God Of War to the small screen, Ready At Dawn have pulled-off a convincing job. The title plays as it predecessors; set camera angles play host to a series of combat routines interspersed with puzzles. The Camera is as exquisitely developed as that of the original and never leaves the player feeling cheated, the ability to swoop-out until the infamous Kratos is nothing more than a handful of blinking pixels, and burst into action as his Blades of Chaos illuminate the surroundings. The Level design is again that of wonder, with screen-filling Bosses aplenty and predictable but clever pacing through-out the first-half of the title. The closing act sees the release stutter somewhat, delving into a repetition of old Bosses and a distinct lack of anything inspiring, but the handheld adaptations of gracious Checkpoint placement and slick Frame-Rates will see the player continuing regardless.

Much like The Creative Assembly’s recent Viking: Battle For Asgard, God Of War: Chains Of Olympus pushes the Quick-Time Entry system a little too far. In the first outing of the series, having to press a series of Electronic Theatre Imagebuttons as they appear on-screen to finish-off Bosses or special enemies was an interesting and well-used technique. Here, it seems as though Ready At Dawn have taken the initiative of “more is better”, and ran with it. When almost every enemy encounter results in needing to best several of the enemies with a cut-away segment, it very much distracts from the flow of the combat; an element which the God Of War series previously excelled at far beyond any of the competition.

The controls remain identical to the PlayStation2 releases on the Face Buttons, and the aforementioned Blades of Chaos remain the main weapon in the title. The L and R Buttons are used to dodge and defend, and the new glowing Sun Shield features some nice effects. A few other new weapons are included and some new magic abilities, and while they may not feel entirely original, the reestablishment of the items within the storyline at least leaves them feeling fresh. Levelling-Up your weapons follows the exact same routine – and even uses the exact same Menu Screens – as the original title, and is done by collecting Red Orbs from killing enemies or destroying scenery.

God Of War: Chains Of Olympus features many concessions for being a handheld adaptation, and the graphical quality is no exception. While lighting effects are still dynamic and the animation is excellently rendered, Electronic Theatre Imagethe Polygon Count on Character Models and surrounding areas is quite clearly substantially lower. Few graphical glitches occur, far fewer than the majority of the title’s 3D Action competition on the PSP, but are a fault that simply wasn’t evident in the title’s PlayStation2 brethren.

As many of the assets are reused, so is the soundtrack. Exactly the same as that featured in God Of War II, there’s enough depth to keep you satisfied, if not enthralled.

Sex is a topic which is currently rather controversial in the videogames industry. With many harbouring a desire for a wider appreciation of the adult notions that videogames can carry, it seems that only the likes of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and its’ Hot Coffee fiasco and the so-called full-frontal alien nudity in Mass Effect get any attention. God Of War’s take on sexuality hasn’t progressed in the slightest however, and it’s sexual role-play has now stagnated, offering the exact same Mini-Game as the first title and unquestionably nothing more than a titular affair. For all it’s worth as a product for gamers with a taste for Greek mythology, God Of War: Chains Of Olympus will never aid the industry’s desire to be seen as a serious medium.

While God Of War: Chains Of Olympus remains a very good game, it would be difficult for any fan to say they weren’t slightly disappointed. However, this may well be because the series has set it’s own bar so high in previous titles, a handheld offering would simply never be able to compete. Easily remaining one of the best titles on the PSP, God Of War: Chains Of Olympus will provide twelve hours of entertainment. But for those hardcore fans of the series, the last five may well be considered a little frustrating.

 

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