Originally Published 14 May 2010
While on my trip last week, I finally finished God of War: Chains of Olympus. When I bought my PSP back before Jason-2 launched (June 2008), I got two games: Final Fantasy 7: Crisis Core and God of War: Chains of Olympus. I beat Crisis Core around the time Jason-2 launched. Since then, Chains of Olympus has been in my PSP. In total, that means that it took my nearly a year and a half to finally finish it.
Chains of Olympus is a prequel to the first God of War game and it shows. Kratos is being sent around to do the gods errands all while being given the finger by said gods, much like in the first game. It includes (yet again) him dying and clawing back up from underworld. Only counting the God of War games that I’ve played, I think that makes at least 4 times that he’s come back from there…
The gameplay is quite similar to the other God of War games, but is somewhat hampered by the PSP’s lack of buttons. This is especially evident in the fact that dodging requires a two button combination (R+X) when it is probably the most commonly repeated action aside from attacking. Magic is similarly hampered by requiring a button combination, but that rarely was an issue for me given the few times that I actually bothered to cast magic.
Most of the game is actually rather easy. Although enemies are rather tough and do decent damage, I was able to survive most fights by just tanking through them and then picking up one of the incredibly common healing chests. The final boss, however, dramatically changes the paradigm. Its attacks do on the order of a quarter of a fully-expanded health bar and can’t be blocked, only dodged. This brings the control flaws back into the foreground and made the final fight quite frustrating. It also didn’t help that there was a two-minute-long, unskippable cutscene between the last checkpoint and the actual final fight.
Honestly, I don’t remember all that much about the game. Given the piecemeal way that I went through it over something like 18 months, it is hard to remember anything more than the vaguest memories about the earlier bits. In fact, I think this unremarkability may be something core to the game. Since it happens before the first game but after the main character is given all of his nifty superpowers, there isn’t much that can be done without requiring it to either all be forgotten or not mattering at all. Such is the fate of most prequels, I think.
I don’t think this game is important even to hardcore fans of the series. It isn’t bad–the gameplay is solid enough and the plot doesn’t have any glaring holes–but it isn’t that good either. I think this is the sort of game that the word mediocre is destined to describe.
God of War: Chains of Olympus: 0