The hand-held Sony PlayStation Portable game console can barely contain the action-adventure game God of War: Chains of Olympus. With its ogres and dragons, stone temples and massive ancient machinery, the game feels as though at any moment it will burst through the four-inch screen and bring hellfire and destruction to your sofa.
Big picture: Chains of Olympus — an ambitious game for the PSP.
Chains of Olympus is a prequel to the two PlayStation 2 God of War games. The brutal anti-hero Kratos must do the bidding of the fickle Greek gods, hoping they will release him from the memories of his unbearable sins. The gods demand Kratos kill a city-ravaging dragon, but that’s only the beginning of his troubles.
The game assures the player of its determination to match the scale of the other games early on when Kratos’ battle with a monster 10 times his size is interrupted by a dragon 10 times its size killing the monster.
The game faithfully emulates the savage, macho tone of the previous games. It is not for children or the faint-of-heart classics professor. Kratos beats a king to death with a chest of his own gold, murders chained residents of Tartarus to gain health and, early on, has sex with two women (which involves the player hitting keys on the console while watching a candle shake as the three characters moan off camera).
It is remarkable how much Chains of Olympus plays like its big-console forebears. Once again, you madly push buttons to swing the blades, chained to Kratos’ wrists, through ogres or grab a snake-like Medusa and snap its neck. Kratos gains more weapons as he progresses, acquiring a metal fist that can punch through walls and gaining the ability to call forth a fiery monster that can incinerate nearby attackers.
The game also beautifully recreates the look of the series. I played much of Chains of Olympus through my television — which can be done with the newer PSP-2000 and a component cable — and, even blown-up for the big screen, the game looks nearly as good as the original God of War.
Chains of Olympus is certainly the biggest, baddest game ever to hit the PSP, but it is still not quite as big and bad as previous games for other platforms. The story is not as grand, the puzzles aren’t nearly as ingenious and the game is at times too fond of making Kratos backtrack through areas, probably because there is a limit to how much you can squeeze on to those little PSP discs. But since God of War and God of War II are two of the greatest games ever made, saying Chains of Olympus is almost as good is still high praise.
Game: God of War: Chains of Olympus
©2008/The New York Times
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