E3 2007: Hands-on with God of War: Chains of Olympus

If you know me, you know how I feel about the God of War series. But if you don’t, here’s the short version — if Kratos could some how impregnate me, allowing me to give birth to a beautiful baby girl, I’d spoil it to death. Then, when it was old enough, I’d move to West Virginia and start hitting on it. Whatever happens after that is my own business.

The point is, I like me some God of War. The business of transferring it to the PSP is a tricky one, but based on the demo at this year’s E3, it looks like developer Ready at Dawn is up to task. Worried about how the game is going to look on the small screen? Don’t. Worried about the lack of the second analog stick? Get over it.

Hit the jump for more detailed impressions. 

No one is doubting that the PSP is a seriously capable machine, but God of War: Chains of Olympus delivers visuals like you’d never imagine. While some of those high-resolution screenshots you might have seen are a bit misleading, there’s no doubt that Chains of Olympus is pushing the PSP to its limits graphically. Kratos is as detailed as ever and moves as fluidly as you’d expect, and the series’ signature epic environments remain fully intact.

This is indeed a full-fledged entry into the series — the boss battle in the demo remains true to what you’d expect. After being attacked by an angry troll who is quickly snatched up by a gigantic lizard who tears through a wooden door, and then through the troll. The boss battle is extremely similar to the first Hydra encounter in the original God of War — it lunges at you (you block it) and it spits fire at you (you roll out of the way).

Once enough damage has been inflicted, a quick-time event is initiated. But that’s not the last you’ll see of the lizard, as the battle continues and you chase it through a burning city, an event that will likely lead to a gruesome, satisfying climax.

Control wise, there are no complaints here, even with the lack of the right analog stick (used in the console versions for evasion). Combos and movement are handled identically in the PSP version of the game, with many of the same attacks intact. Evading without an analog stick isn’t a problem, either — holding the L and R triggers together in conjunction with the analog stick allows for quick rolls and dodges.

It all feels familiar and definitely very at home on the handheld. It doesn’t appear that God of War fans are going to be disappointed, and if there ever was a system seller, Chains of Olympus just might be it.

Nick Chester