How many times can we chain whip the same ancient Greek monsters to death before it becomes repetitive? If the God of War series is any indication, it’s starting to wane. While Chains of Olympus is the weakest of the three games to date, it’s still a fantastic combination of action, puzzle solving, and storytelling.
Kratos returns as the angry god hater, looking to slaughter all who stand in his way… innocent or not. His attitude is unrelenting and still captured perfectly on the small screen. The cinematics are top tier, and some of the best on the hardware. The same goes for the incredible visuals which lose almost nothing in the translation. A stunning sense of scale in the face of massive monsters is maintained.
Unfortunately, those boss encounters that are always a highlight are few in number here. After the first level, none of the other struggles even come close to the feeling of overpowering a massive Greek creature. The smaller scale battles are arguably more appropriate given the hardware, but this is a disappointment in the face of the previous two games.
Chains of Olympus does nothing to change the formula. Kratos still finds chests and collects orbs to level up. The combo system remains intact. A new weapon delivers an overwhelming sense of power, and makes for a nice break from the flailing chains. It requires close quarters combat, and changes up the feeling of the fighting enough to make the rest of the game feel fresh.
Without a second analog stick, the ability to dodge has been changed. This now requires a far less intuitive mixture of both triggers and a press in the direction you’d like to move. You’ll likely find yourself using it less.
Puzzles are sadly minimal here. This is undoubtedly the most action oriented of the series. Most devolve into basic block pushing until you get it right. They’re not imaginative as before. The level design also takes a hit, including the final level which devolves into a series of closed rooms and forced fights.
That final stage finishes the game around the five hour mark. It’s startling to find the end coming so soon. The extras, simply a series of brutally difficult challenges, are not enough to qualify as replay value.
While this third God of War may finally be showing signs of the series struggling slightly, there’s no question it makes for one of the best handheld experiences to date. It’s undoubtedly flawed, but sheer ferocity of the combat still works and Kratos remains one of the best of modern gaming’s creations. It’s raw fun, though how many more times gamers can run through Greek history will depend on how many changes will be made.
God of War: Chains of Olympus is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Nudity, Sexual Content.