By Dan Zuccarelli . March 20, 2008 . 10:59am
It's not often the programming talent of a development house sticks out, unless in a negative or broken way. It's kinda like special effects in the movies, they only really stick out when done poorly and if they do their job properly they should be invisible to the watcher. Well, normally I'd apply the same adage to game development… but in the case of God Of War: Chains of Olympus for the PSP, it's a good thing you notice the hard work. Let me explain.
I've played some really bad games on the PSP, and they've been broken for all kinds of reasons. The graphics are terrible, the load times are abhorrent, the controls are sketchy because of only having access to one analog "stick." I could list forever the PSP games just about ruined from some crazy crazy loading times. Yet somehow God of War: Chains of Olympus moves briskly from level to level, never getting in the way. It shouldn't be so noticeable, but since it's such a rarity on the PSP it sticks out. And it's a welcome sight.
As far as graphics go it's sadly too rare a time to truly be impressed with the PSP, it seems that most games just fail to live up to the potential of the system. When I first got the PSP and popped in Spider-Man 2 on UMD the clarity and potential of that screen was downright jaw-dropping. But in the ensuing years few games seem to take advantage of the power. Well, Ready At Dawn did it… and they did it well. They somehow managed to squeeze what looks like a late-run PS2 game into the system. There's nothing that looks like it's not PS2 worthy here. Seriously, I'm not sure how they did it but kudos.
Perhaps the most welcome change to the God Of War games are the controls employed on the PSP. In the console versions of GoW, the right thumbstick handled dodging duties, which if you've ever played one of them you know how key it is. Well here, since there's no right thumbstick, you use one of the shoulder buttons as an attack modifier and the other one plus your analog nub to dodge. It sounds kludgy, but in practice works so well I kind of hope they incorporate it into the next console iteration.
Ready At Dawn were given no small task in bringing God Of War to the PSP, it's one of Sony's more successful original IP's and they last thing they need is a flop on their hands while they work toward the upcoming PS3 version. They succeed in continuing the story of the tortured Kratos, and have created a world that fits in well to the overall GoW ethos. True it's a prequel, and in the grand scheme of storyline is entirely inconsequential… but I'm still thankful it's a fun story nonetheless.
So thank you Ready At Dawn for such a fine example of what the PSP can truly do. It's a shame though, that you're moving on to work on consoles now… Though I can't say I blame you. You'll be sorely missed from the handheld and I can only hope you manage to pump out the same quality moving forward.