The God of War series has always produced games that have pushed their respective platforms above and beyond anything that has come before. The original two games on the PS2 gave that beloved console the epic send off it deserved, and the PS3’s God of War 3 rounded off the trilogy with a visual spectacle that has rarely been matched, before or since. Which brings us round to the 2 episodes released on Sony’s soon to be gone and forgotten PSP. On a platform which quickly became a byword for disappointment and missed opportunity, Chains of Olympus and Ghost of Sparta stood out as creative and technical master classes. Both releases, but Ghost of Sparta especially, forced the handheld as far as its little processors could go, and filled in some gaps in the Kratos character, going some way to explaining just why he is so cross all the time.
After the success of God of War 1 and 2 HD, it was always likely that the PSP versions would receive the same upgrades, and its arguable that its these that benefit most from the promotion to PS3. The sheer scale of the environments, such an important part of GOW, comes across far more successfully away from the PSP’s 4.3 inch screen, and the HD improvements have done wonders for the cut scenes, the quick-time events and the impact of the various monsters and foes that you plow through along the way. You’re never going to look at these and confuse them with GOW3, but both games are still very easy on the eye and its only on the occasional Chains of Olympus cut scene where the last-gen nature of the graphics can jar a little.
Gameplay wise, there are unsurprisingly no surprises here. All GOW games are a variation on a theme, but luckily the theme happens to be brilliant. Use your chains, magic and maybe one or two other weapons to pulverise whatever Greek Mythology On Steroids can throw at you, and solve the odd puzzle here and there just to break things up a bit. That’s not to say this ever gets boring. The game-to-game modifications and the levelling up system means there are always new and exciting ways to spill blood and remove body parts, although if for reasons I can’t fathom you don’t like GOW, these games are not going to change your mind.
If you’ve already played these games to death on PSP, then you might want to think carefully about shelling out for these games again. There is trophy support (don’t pretend you don’t care), and the increased scale does give you a new perspective on the games, but these aren’t new games and there are no new scenes or chapters to lengthen out what are, after all, PSP games. But there again, there doesn’t really need to be. These are two of the best games ever on the PSP. Despite having a distinctly unlikeable protagonist and a gameplay mechanic that hardly appears to change across 3 platforms and 5 games, they complete an amazing franchise which has managed to become one of the most recognisable and consistently brilliant in video game history. If you have owned any of the last three Sony consoles then you should already be familiar with it, but if not, these instalments are an ideal place to start.
Reviewed on PS3