A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this game is both violent and sexual. The violence makes up most of the game-play as you fight enemies using blades chained to your wrists. When you take on bigger boss characters, you can do even more to them such as smash their head in with a heavy chest or stab them in the face with a blade (note: with boss characters, the action plays out for you as you simply press the correct buttons at the right time). All the boss enemies you take on in this game are mythological creatures, such as giant beasts, but there are human victims, too. The game contains a sex scene (which is well documented on the web) involving a threesome with two almost naked topless women and lets players partake in the act -- off-camera -- by pressing specific buttons on the controller as you hear the sounds of the sexual act. The visual shown during this scene is of a candlestick holder shaped like a naked woman encircling a candle, which sits on a crate and shakes in time to the moans.
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What's it about?
Sony's GOD OF WAR: CHAINS OF OLYMPUS on the PlayStation Portable (PSP) is the prequel to the two earlier God of War games. Once again, you play as Kratos, a Spartan warrior, who battles mythological creatures with the aid of a double-bladed weapon chained to your wrists. Since Chains of Olympus takes place before the events in the first game, Kratos has not yet achieved the status of a god after defeating the powerful Ares. Instead he must venture into mysterious dark environments to fight mythological creatures. In true God of War style, Kratos faces off against huge boss fighters early on in the game -- in this case, a huge fire-breathing lizard-like creature that attacks him on an elevated outdoor terrace; you must duck, roll, and jump to avoid it's claws and bites; leap over its fiery breath; and whack him silly with your chained blades. Eventually you'll be prompted -- with specific buttons you need to press on the face of the PSP, such as triangle, circle or square -- to pull giant columns down on its head to render him unconscious. As you play through this linear game, you will direct Kratos as he attempts to save the ancient world by destroying vicious monsters.
Is it any good?
Take one gander at the graphics in Chains of Olympus and players might think they've booted up a console game. But this visually stunning, "Mature"-rated action-adventure hybrid is more than just eye-candy as the gameplay -- while on the short side -- is also extraordinarily good. Gamers will no doubt marvel at the size of the beasts you take on, how fluid the animation is, the slick "camera" angles, and the level of detail in both the characters and environments.
Puzzle-solving, however, is fairly basic, such as pushing or pulling crates and then jumping on them to reach high areas. Another issue is the relatively short gameplay at about 5 hours or so. The game can be played on easy ("Mortal"), normal ("Hero") or hard ("Spartan"), and if completed on any of these three difficulty settings you can access the very hard ("God") mode. Minor issues aside – namely, brevity, linearity, and puzzle simplicity -- God of War: Chains of Olympus is one of the most visceral and gratifying handheld games ever created, and one that pushes the PSP hardware to new heights. Just be aware this is a "Mature"-rated game with inappropriate content for players under 17 year of age.
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