"Chains of Olympus" is "God of War" writ small. Amazingly, it loses almost nothing in the translation. It looks like a "God of War" game. Sounds like one. And most importantly, it plays like one.
This means players shouldn't expect innovation -- in fact, because the game takes place before the first in the series, antihero Kratos has fewer powers than he will gain later in the game's time line. But where the originality is lacking, the incredible graphics and brutal action fill the void.
The game's story line takes place when Kratos was still an errand boy for the gods and was plagued by horrible nightmares about his bloody past. It's a suitably epic quest for our angry protagonist, who is bound to do the bidding of the gods.
After helping beat back an invasion by Persians (including a fight with a monstrous basilisk), Kratos witnesses the sun fall to the Earth, and darkness cover the sky. Helios, the sun god, has gone missing, and Kratos must search Greece and Hades itself to find him before Morpheus, the god of dreams, can irrevocably tighten his grip on this midnight world.
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Kratos is armed as usual with a pair of blades chained to his forearms, which he can use as short swords and deadly whips. Collecting red orbs from fallen enemies and broken objects allows him to upgrade his weapons, adding new attacks and abilities with each level.
The blades aren't the only implements to be improved in this manner. Kratos gains several kinds of magic and pieces of equipment. All these items and more can be upgraded like his blades -- but it's up to the player to decide which weapons have priority.
"Chains of Olympus" is only slightly scaled down compared with its console cousins. Some of this can be chalked up to hardware limitations, some of it to the game's time frame as a prequel. The controls have been reworked to make up for the PSP's lack of several buttons and an analog stick that the PS2 games use.
-- Justin Hoeger
The Sacramento Bee