Last week the PSP received its own God of War game and I'm pleased to say that it recreates everything I loved about the PS2 games, including a decent story. Frankly, with external developer Ready at Dawn creating this prequel, I was concerned the plot would be second-rate. However, its proficiency at storytelling lags the original slightly while outdoing the sequel. This time we follow the adventures of Kratos, the superhuman servant of Ares, just prior to the events in the first God of War.
While Chains of Olympus succeeds at many things, I was most impressed by the pacing:
- The opening level presents the game's biggest boss (but not the toughest one).
- The third is full of puzzles.
- The fourth provides you with the truly enjoyable hit-reflection ability.
- The sixth takes you to a whole new setting, with several new enemies.
- The seventh introduces a new and immensely rewarding weapon.
- The eighth is a series of strenuous battles, a plot twist, a final battle, and a clever little conclusion that leads directly into the story of the original God of War.
Interestingly, my favorite moment in the game didn't involve combat or a puzzle. As you may know, heavy doors and objects are lifted in God of War by pounding the circle button repeatedly. Near the end of Chains of Olympus, Kratos has to commit a difficult act of personal sacrifice which is acted out through circle-button mashing. It's a simple variation on a common mechanic, yet I thought it was effective in conveying the emotional weight of the moment.
All around, I enjoyed God of War: Chains of Olympus a great deal -- both for its gameplay and its furthering the story of Kratos -- and I recommend it.
PSP will never go down in the record books as the best selling handheld ever. But it is truly shaping up to be a system that in 12-15 years people will look back on and say, "Damn remarkable games for the time, too bad it didn't sell well." And that is an okay rememberance too, because the games are damn remarkable and if after a decades they forget that PSP actually is/was selling quite well they can be forgiven.
History might record that Nintendo DS sold more, but I think people will have a soft place in their heart for PSP as a game machine.
Don't think I'm eulogizing the system; it is actually on somewhat of a resurgence maybe even entering it golden age. Remarkable game after remarkable game is dropped onto the system like manna from heaven. It appears PSP will be getting stronger as PS3 gains maturity and Sony's online space gains structure, so what is ahead of Sony's handheld could be more remarkable still.
"Don't think I'm eulogizing the system;"
Ha. Well, the PSP does sound an awful lot like the Atari Lynx right now, or, in my eyes, the Sega Nomad. Both were very good systems with good to great game libraries, but didn't make it. Seriously, I'm not sure what went wrong with the Nomad other than it was a little large. Seems like it'd still have a chance to sell today, though Matt's review of GoW here makes it look like the time of Atari-like sprites on tiny screens might finally be over.