God of War Collection - PS3 - Review
It’s been four years since Kratos unleashed his vengeance on gamers and set a new standard for combat based action titles. Since then, not a single game (current or last generation) has come close to matching the excellent system developed by Sony’s Santa Monica team.
Playing as Kratos (The Ghost of Sparta!), players hack and slash through Greek mythology. It’s a genre that had been done to death, but God of War gave it new life and a breath of fresh air thanks to its fantastic combo-control system. Some games require too much in the way of button memorization; God of War’s controls just make sense. While there are certainly combos, the games' standard attacks flow seamlessly in a way that really doesn’t even require one to think too much about the buttons at all. The attacks are natural and logical and very simple to use. They are also extremely satisfying. They are all beautifully animated and wonderfully presented with great use of slow motion.
Also adding to the satisfaction are the games’ famous mini-game segments. These allow the player to control a cinematic takedown through on-screen button prompts. They are basically interactive cut scenes, but they feature excellent (and extremely gory) choreography and direction and involve the player in an area where they are usually reduced to spectators.
Both games feature excellent boss battles, although the sequel definitely makes better use of them, as they are few and far between in the original. And that’s probably the only reason I might give the edge to the second game overall. Both are very closely matched. I suppose that’s not a surprise considering that both feel almost identical in many ways. But that’s not to say God of War II is a rehash in any way. It just feels more like a refined version of the original than say, a reinvention of it.
There are really only two minor complaints I have about both games. The first of which is that the platforming segments never felt quite natural to me. Kratos’ double-jump is somewhat awkward, and you will probably find yourself frustrated by it a least a few times over the course of the two titles. The camera doesn’t help you out here either, as it can be a bit awkwardly placed at times and there is absolutely no control over it whatsoever. But these are very minor complaints because the game is first and foremost an action title, and the action is as good as it gets and exactly as you remember it.
The only change from the original games is the visuals. Both have been boosted to high definition, and the improvement is dramatic. Although the graphics themselves are the same, as you would expect, everything is much sharper and more vibrant. The environments still look good to this day, as do the impressive visual effects such as the fiery Blades of Chaos. Kratos himself still looks good, although many of the other character models look extremely dated and rough.
The Collection also gives the games a noticeable framerate boost. The hectic nature of the games led to some terrible screen tearing back on the PS2, and it has been completely eliminated here.
Fully rendered cinemas also hold up nicely, but cut scenes utilizing the in-game graphics look genuinely terrible. Often times they showcase the dated character models, but mostly the issue is that the video quality itself is very poor.
I can’t say it’s too disappointing, as I never found the story to be particularly intriguing. It’s above-average to be sure, but Kratos himself is very much a stereotypical tough guy and therefore not particularly memorable character-wise. 90 percent of his dialog is delivered by screaming at the top of his lungs.
The game does have some competent voice work to boost the plot a bit and the score (repetitive as it may be) is memorable and as bombastic as humanly possible, complete with a thunderous chanting choir. So while the game features good sound elements, it’s still presented in the original Dolby Pro Logic II setup. With the visuals given a boost, one would have hoped the sound would follow suit with a multi-channel surround mix.
Despite this, God of War Collection is still a great buy for fans of the game. You get visually-enhanced versions of the games for a budget price of $39.99. The games have never looked and played better, and if, like me, you plan on enjoying these games for years to come, it makes perfect sense. And if it makes perfect sense for God of War vets to buy it, it makes even more than perfect sense for the uninitiated. These are two phenomenal action titles with thrills that match just about anything that has been done in gaming. God of War Collection is a great holdover and refresher for those anxious awaiting the third installment, and a perfect introduction for those who missed out the first time around.
Review Scoring Details for God of War Collection
Still the best combat system to this day, the gameplay is only held back by occasionally iffy platforming sequences and camera work. The bosses and large scale action sequences are just as thrilling as they were when released.
The increased resolution and framerate make a notable difference. Screen tearing is thankfully eliminated, as it plagued the original incarnations. Environments and visual effects still look great, while the in-game cutscenes and select player models look horrible by today’s standards.
Unlike the visuals, sound remains in the original Dolby Pro Logic II mix. It’s great for what it is, boosted by punchy effect work and the incredibly bombastic score, but a multi-channel surround upgrade would have been great.
If you like combat-based action games, you simply can’t do any better than the God of War Collection. The games are presented true to their original form, with the technical upgrades providing more than enough incentive for even those who have played them before to upgrade.
An absolute no-brainer for those who missed out the first time, the God of War Collection packs two phenomenal titles into one great package for a bargain price. Even if you have played them before, the visual and framerate upgrade is well worth it.