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PSP Fanboy hands-on: God of War Chains of Olympus

How long does it take to get to a sex scene with two women? About ten minutes or so. We've playing through God of War: Chains of Olympus, and we are thoroughly impressed. The game starts with a bang -- an incredible cinematic introduction that prepares you for the adventure ahead. Make no mistakes; this is a big-budget affair. Linda Hunt's narration returns for this handheld adventure, and it makes everything feel appropriately epic. Then, the game begins with the same beachfront attack we've all seen in the demo disc.

Although the content is the same, there are a few things we happened to notice. For example, the graphics have managed to get even better. There's much more blood, and lighting seems to have improved quite a bit since we saw it last. Even better, the Efreet magic Kratos learns after beating the first real boss has been made much more brutal: using it sets enemies aflame, and you can hear their pained screams as they flail around helplessly. Awesome.

Click for high-resolution image.

Those that have read our previous hands-on impressions know what to expect from the game: a real God of War experience for the handheld. However, there are a few things that we must note. Firstly, save points are generously paced. We'd estimate that they're always about ten minutes away from each other, allowing for on-the-go gamers to play bite-sized portions, if they so choose.

Secondly, we'd like to note the complete lack of load times. When you start a New Game, you will simply jump into the game. If you were to continue playing, you'd never, ever see a load screen. Like modern console games, load times are cleverly masked by cinematic sequences. To see this technique pulled off on PSP is great (and we hope to see more games take advantage of it in the future!). If you continue a game, you will see a load screen, but for about three seconds. For a system that's infamous for lengthy loads, this is quite an accomplishment. Truly, Ready at Dawn knows how to make the PSP sing.

Within the first half hour, players will be introduced to what seems to be the main conflict of the game. The sun has vanished from the sky, thrusting the world into darkness. Atlas has been placed into a mystical slumber, and it's up to you to stop this ever-growing darkness from swallowing the gods, and the world itself. Kratos must use clever use of light and fire to keep himself in safety -- a mechanic that's used to quite stunning effect on PSP. Kratos will pick up a torch, for example, and you'll be able to see the flame realistically flicker and cast light in the beautifully rendered environment.

Also, it's not too long before Kratos picks up a shield. With it, he'll be able to parry enemy attacks, in a similar fashion to God of War II. We're glad to see this mechanic back, as it added so much depth to the gameplay.

It won't be too long until you'll be able to play Chains of Olympus too. From what we've seen so far, it's clear that this is yet another winning addition to the ever-expanding PSP lineup. Expect much more, including a review, in the coming weeks.

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