BUY IT AT AMAZON: CLICK HERE!
PLATFORM: PSP
ESRB RATING: M
DEVELOPER: Ready at Dawn Studios
PUBLISHER: SCE


We all knew that God of War would be huge on the PSP. Sony’s best franchise of all time took the PS2 from out of nowhere, coming in and astounding people with an eminently playable hack and slash adventure that was truly epic in scale. Epic is the word that most goes with the series, in fact. Greek Gods, giant mythological creatures, and one angry, pasty tattooed man with whirling blades all added up to making you feel like a true badass. When it was announced that Ready at Dawn Studios (the guys behind the system-pushing Daxter game for PSP) was going to be developing this, we hoped they would do it right.

Well, they did. This is a system seller. And it’s just as good as you hoped.

THE PITCH

It’s 10 years before the events of the first God of War, in a part of main character Kratos’ life that was briefly mentioned in the beginning of that game. Kratos has just mistakenly killed his wife and son after an enormous battle at Ares, the God of War’s behest. The God was trying to destroy the Spartan warrior’s humanity and make him the perfect fighter. Kratos instead decides to serve the Gods of Olympus to cleanse his sins. It’s this decade of his life you’ll play. Kratos is first sent by the Gods to Attica to help defend the Greeks against the invading Persians. His journey will take him everywhere from restoring Helios, the sun God, to journeying down into Hades and meeting up with Persephone, and perhaps… his family?


Guess Sony still hasn’t learned about decapitating goats…

 
THE PLAY
 
The controls were really what set apart God of War from other games, as
it was incredibly fluid. It’s no different here, thankfully… any fan of the previous games will be right at home from the start. Basically the only change is that instead of using the right analog stick to quickly dodge attacks, you have to hold down both shoulder buttons and slide the left analog stick in the desired direction. It’s not nearly as intuitive but it’ll work in a pinch. You’ve still got your beautiful, beautiful Blades of Chaos to chop your enemies up, and you will also unlock another, stronger weapon during gameplay. Magic’s back with 3 varieties this time… as are the Quick Time Events (QTE’s)- you know, the quick button presses you have to hit to execute an enemy in gory, stylish ways. There’s also a few mildly tricky puzzles that pop up, but of course, this game’s always been more about the action.

There’s really nothing more to say. They did the controls perfectly on this system.

Oh yeah, and there’s yet another brief sex mini-game. Strange to see digital boobs in a PSP game.

THE PRESENTATION

Absolutely the most gorgeous game you’ve seen on a portable system. You won’t believe the visuals they squeezed out of this one- it even puts most PS2 games to shame. The levels are huge, as are your enemies. From the first battle in Attica you’ll realize how much they crammed into this little UMD… while you’re fighting your battles an even larger one is going on in the background, with fireballs and arrows flying everywhere.


Looks like someone’s overcompensating…


Never before has a PSP game made me sit back and just marvel at the beauty of it, but there you go. It doesn’t hurt that the automatically scrolling camera is perfect, always in the perfect place for you to fight, or panning upward to show you just how large the area you’re in is.

The music’s no slouch either, just as memorable and pounding and perfect for getting you in the mood to chop up some mythological beasts.

Amazing job here by Ready at Dawn, although we already knew how good they were on the technological side of things with Daxter.

THE REPLAY

The biggest fault with this game is its length. The first play-through will take you 5-6 hours, at most. Now keep in mind that these few hours have some truly astounding moments, the same as its big console brothers. Fun fights, magic, weapons and boss battles, but for a game of this scale the short playtime hurts. There’s some weapon and magic upgrades to unlock via the usual red orbs but if you don’t have everything fully maxed out by the end of the game, you’re doing something wrong.

Once you beat the game the first time you unlock ‘God Mode’, which is absolutely ridiculously hard. It’ll definitely be a struggle for any of you to get to the end, and it adds some replay and a helluva lot more strategy to even the littlest battle… but it can be more frustrating than anything.

Another cool unlockable is the Challenges of Hades, a series of 5 trials that’s everything from “Break Every Object in the Room” to having you eliminate every enemy before your slowly diminishing health gives out. They’ve very tough and add a few more hours of enjoyment.


Kratos shows one unlucky Harpy his best American History X impersonation.


Beating the Challenges and God mode will allow you to see videos and concept art from the game (inluding some “Lost Levels” that never made it to the full game), some nifty little stuff, but nothing to compare to say, a longer game.
 
THE VERDICT

By far the best game on the PSP… if only it lasted a little longer. Still, for those waiting for a new console sequel, you can’t do better than this. A required purchase for any PSP owner.

9.2 out of 10