Games for Lunch: God of War: Chains of Olympus
0:00 After reading a butt-load of glowingly positive reviews for this game, I feel like I'm going to have my official "game critic club card" revoked if I don't like it. Here's hoping it doesn't come to that.
0:01 This minute spent upgrading my PSP to firmware version 3.80.
0:02 See minute 0:01.
0:03 Here we go! Hero difficulty (Normal)? "Suffering for years, Kratos, the once-great general, now known as the ghost of Sparta, pledged himself to the gods of Olympus. In return, he only hoped to rid himself of the nightmares that had haunted him for far too long." But today, he's been asked to defend Attica from the Persian army. In other words, here's a bit of unnecessary story, now GO FIGHT. As should be the case in a game like this.
0:05 The first thing that strikes me about the game is how pretty it looks for a PSP game. The second thing is how long Kratos' Blades of Chaos are. They can reach, like, two times his height. Good gravy.
0:07 Feels a lot like God of War so far... jam the buttons, watch the blood (and enemies) go flying.
0:09 "Press O repeatedly to open the door" never really made sense to me in these games. Is the effort of hitting O repeatedly supposed to replicate the effort of Kratos opening the door? All it does in practice is annoy me. Lesser heroes than Kratos get by with a simple, single button press for door opening.
0:11 Ha-ha. So a big boss comes and attacks me with a battering ram, only to get eaten by an even bigger boss. I'm grinning here.
0:13 The new, bigger boss is pretty easy once I figure out that I can prevent all damage from its huge, lunging attack just by holding L to block, but it's the first boss so I'll cut the game some slack.
0:15 I damage the boss enough to initiate a "mini-game," which could more accurately and loquaciously be described as a "short cut scene where you have to hit the indicated buttons occasionally." This ends with a battering ram to the head and a chastened monster running off. Meh. Nice to watch, not too engaging to actually play.
0:17 OK, the game has made up for the dull boss with a quick section that involves dodging fire raining down from catapults. Nicely done!
0:18 After receiving a tutorial message on how to operate crates, I get another that says: "You just received a tutorial message. These explain Kratos' abilities." I'm not freaking kidding here.
0:20 It's kind of sad to realize that my blades have roughly the same range as the opposing archers' arrows.
0:22 "What evil have you wrought on this city, Persian?" The evil king gives a soliloquy on the true nature of evil. He thinks he's righteous, but Kratos thinks he's on the side of the gods. "Take this message back to your little gods. It will take more than a Spartan to stop the will of an empire." Note to other kings: Insulting Kratos' gods = BAD IDEA!
0:25 I really like the dodging system. It makes it easy to go in for attacks and get away from the counters just in time. I'm still trying to figure out where these endless henchmen are coming from, though.
0:26 King Beardo offers his kingdom to Kratos if he'll spare him. "I won't take your riches, but I WILL TAKE YOUR LIFE," Kratos bellows before bashing the king's brains in repeatedly with a crate. Subtlety is not exactly Kratos' strong suit...
0:28 I have "acquired the Efreet," which gives me the king's ability for a fiery attack circle around me. Sweet.
0:30 So first I have to slooowly turn the flaming arrow launcher towards the far-off monster, and THEN I have to slooowly cock it back and launch it. Good help is hard to find, I guess.
0:32 There have been next to no load times so far, but there have been long elevator rides where nothing really happens except for the manual turning of a crank. Hmmmm...
0:35 A fight with a cyclops ends, predictably, with a sword poke in the eye. I love how this brute will punch at the ground even if I'm hovering in mid-air in front of his face, pummeling him with attacks all the while.
0:40 I can pick up the dead body of one of the Atticans for some reason. I can only assume there's some use for this, but it's not immediately apparent.
0:42 Heh. By dodging an arrow from one archer I made him hit his companion. Good stuff.
0:44 Oh, I need the dead lady to sit on a switch and open a door. In lesser games this would probably be a job for a crate, but in God of War it's a dead lady because THAT'S FREAKING HARDCORE! WHOOOOOOOO!
0:47 Oh, the second switch requires a crate. A really big crate that takes for-freaking-EVER to move. Never mind.
0:49 Boss time. It's... the same giant basilisk from before, and he's... still really easy to block with the L button. At least he has a few new tricks this time, like fire breath that I have to jump to avoid.
0:52 After a while, I knock the basilisk on his back, avoid his fiery balls, and rotate the stick furiously to knock him out. This sounds dirtier than it is.
0:55 And after all that, I have to do it all over again. The exact same attacks. Feels a bit like they're already stretching out the gameplay.
0:56 One more repetition of the attack cycle leads to a cut scene/mini-game where I unhinge the basilisk's jaw forcibly. I would think this was the coolest thing ever if I was roughly 12 years old.
0:57 "IS THIS ALL YOU WOULD HAVE ME DO?" Kratos cries to the gods. "IS THERE NOTHING ELSE?" Like macrame maybe? Seriously, what does he expect, exactly?
0:58 "Seeing the sun fall from the sky and the world plunge in the darkness, Kratos knew this was not a sign from the gods." He did? How exactly did he know that? The sun falling from the sky seems a lot like a sign from the gods to me!
1:00 The City of Marathon save point seems like an anticlimactic point to stop playing. Shouldn't I be starting a marathon instead of ending an hour-long sprint? Oh, well. On to something else for now.
Would I play this game for more than an hour? Probably.
Why? It's diverting enough, I suppose, if a little too over-the-top for my tastes. But I don't want to get kicked out of the critics club, so I'll leave the option open.
This column was based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.
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