God Of War: Chains Of Olympus comes damn close to recreating the experience of playing an action game on your couch. But part of the problem with simulating the console experience on a handheld is holding up the comparison all the way. God Of War II was a shot of slick, blockbuster goodness mainlined into players' bloodstreams like a videogame speedball. God Of War: Chains Of Olympus feels like a mere taste.
Everything is scaled back a hair. The variety of beasties, vastness of the temples, and epic scope of the story are all dialed down. It isn't like Kratos is stuck killing rats out behind his neighborhood gyro shack: The ghost of Sparta is tasked with the suitably Herculean task of returning the sun to the sky. The guy even goes toe-to-toe with Charon, the ferryman on the river Styx. But at this point, excursions to the underworld are like trips to Trader Joe's for Kratos. No biggie. Just don't forget the Two-Buck Chuck.
This time, Kratos' motivation is his long-lost daughter Calliope; the storyline leaves his contentious relationship with Olympus only loosely sketched. In the first two games, Kratos had righteous fury on his side; here, he's beginning to sound like a petulant whiner. Still, the game does, for the most part, exactly what it sets out to do. It empowers players to eviscerate mythological creatures, explore the temples of the gods, and serve said gods a knuckle sandwich. The game's aforementioned technical prowess is itself godly. The game looks brilliant and plays as smooth as Kratos' shaved dome.
Beyond the game: Persians remain the enemy du jour. If you thought their army in 300 was fearsome, wait until you get a load of their basilisk. And just like their cinematic counterparts, the invaders in Chains Of Olympus always bring a harem of exotic love slaves on the road.
Worth playing for: Screw the sexcapades, though. The best mini-game here is the one that translates button-mashing into physically, forcibly shunning Kratos' clingy daughter. The bit where players snap the necks of spirits in the Elysian Fields to regain their lost powers is pretty awesome too.
Frustration sets in when: The locked-in-a-room-until-you-kill-all-the-monsters thing is starting to get a little old.
Final judgment: Do we detect a hint of mortality?