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God of War: Chains of Olympus
Sony Computer Entertainment

In the few short months that 2008 has been alive, the PSP has seen an impressive jump in quality titles, from the fine RPG adventure of Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core to the arcade-action of Wipeout: Pulse. But perhaps the best example of the PSP’s ever-increasing potential is the recent release of God of War: Chains of Olympus.

In case you have never played a God of War game, the story follows a mighty Greek warrior with a dark past (Okay, he was tricked into murdering his wife and child–mad dark, son!) as he battles against various gods and monsters to relieve himself of the nightmare of his continued existence. Fun!

The basic gameplay is similar to that of other PS2 games in the series, in that you attack your enemies with blades at the end of chains attached to your arms, which you then use to attack from a distance with numerous combo-styles. Other weapons can later be discovered, such as a powerful gauntlet that decreases your reach but greatly increases your attack power, or magical items, such as the spirit of a fire demon or an enchanted mask that can become big difference makers. All items can also be upgraded to increase their potency as you collect orbs throughout the course of the game.

Visually, Chains of Olympus is hands down the best looking game on the portable system yet, and rivals its PS2 counterparts at nearly every instance. If it weren’t for the small screen you are forced to play on, you wouldn't know the difference between Chains and the other games in the series. Colors are vibrant, animation is silky smooth, and the attention to detail is astounding.

The style of gameplay that fans have come to love is mostly intact here, and is hampered only by the PSP’s design. But Chains makes the best of things and absent buttons or attacks aren’t terribly missed once you get going.

As a prequel to the original game, we get to learn a bit more how Kratos became a slave to the Gods of Olympus and about his love for his family, which comes even more into play during a certain moment in the game that, while we won’t spoil anything, may have you saying “Oh…no. Please…don’t make me do this…” It’s kind of heart-wrenching.

If we had any complaints, they would be that the story does tend to be a tad jumpy and overall, it all seemed a little too short for our liking. But that’s just because the thing is just so damn good and we wanted more.

If there was ever a game that was a testament to what the once barely-breathing PSP is truly capable of, God of War: Chains of Olympus is it. We are excited to see what else this little machine will do next.