God of War CollectionESRB:
Category: 3rd Person: Action
Developer: Bluepoint Games/SCE Studios Santa Monica
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
120MB hard drive game save
Video Output: 720p
THX certified game
Dolby Digital Pro Logic 2
Perhaps one of the most notable franchises of the Sony game catalogue is The God of War franchise. It definitely needs no introduction. Set in a mythological world, it is well known for its bloody, gory, and furious combat system as well as its charismatic main character Kratos. Both God of War (2005) and God of War II (2007) became instant classics on the PS2.
The third chapter in the series is only a handful of months away and due to be released on the PS3. Sony’s idea of re-releasing the first two games revamped in high definition is a great one. While hardcore fans of the games will be delighted to see the original remastered in HD, new fans get to see the games looking as good they can while having a chance to experience how the story all began.
God of War I and II looked and ran fairly well on the older PS2 hardware, especially GOW 2. These remastered versions look even better as well as run faster and much smoother on the PS3. The games have been completely recoded for the PS3 hardware so backward compatibility will not be a problem. In fact the games are on a single Blu-ray disc which also contains all of the extra special video features. Both games now run at a silky smooth sixty frames per second, which you will notice right away as Kratos and the rest of the cast is much more responsive and smoother in terms of movement and animation. It is amazing what a little framerate boost can do.
Framerate is one thing but the improved visuals in 720p are certainly what stand out the most in the God of War Collection. This is not a simple PS2 to PS3 port. Both games have undergone a complete makeover from the textures to character animations. They are not as beautiful as a game like Uncharted 2, but the final result is quite stunning nonetheless. You will notice the lower polygon counts here and there, but overall the game is without any glitches to speak of. I remember parts of both the original games having a few collision detection problems along with screen tearing occurring in spots, all of which now seems to be completely non-existent in this collection. The only problem worth mentioning with the game’s visuals lies with its cut-scenes. The scenes are not re-done in HD and they can be a bit jarring as you go from gameplay to video. There are a few scenes powered with the in-game engine so they actually look a bit better, but the majority of the video sequences have that grainy look from the PS2. It is not terrible considering the work put into making both games look the way they do now, and for me it is minor gripe. Trust me when I say that you won’t have any problems overlooking the sub-par cinematic presentation.
Audio is everything you remembered it to be. A superb soundtrack plays in the background, setting the tone and mood for the game with almost perfect execution. The sound effects are also just as profound with solid explosions, loud grunts, and lots of blood spilled. To add to that, the voice acting is simply phenomenal and has not aged one bit between either of the games. You would think that with the kind of games we have been playing lately that these God of War titles would at least show some age in the sound department, but the moment you boot up either one you are immediately reminded just how high Santa Monica Studios managed to set that bar.
For those new to the franchise the basic story is simple. The main character is Kratos, an apprentice to the God of War by the name of Ares. In exchange for a victory against a barbaric tribe, Kratos gives up his soul to the God, only to be betrayed by him later on. I won't allude to why and exactly how Ares tricked and betrayed Kratos, but the plot twist is very good and will have you thinking about it long after you have started playing. The betrayal sends Kratos into a fit of rage, and he basically becomes a grunt for the gods. He enlists in doing the dirty work of various other gods, with each task making his frustration and anger grow. He does this until he calls upon Athena for help with ridding his conscious of the wretched memories he has to live with, but it is Athena who has a favour to ask of Kratos, and that is stopping Ares' destructive path in Athens and kill him.
If you have never played the games before, that's about as much of the plot I should really tell you, because the deeper you delve into the first game, the more interesting and involved you become into this epic tale. Furthermore, upon completing the first game, you'll immediately want to dive into the sequel.
Gameplay is as fast-paced and action packed as you could possibly hope for. These games are without a doubt one of the smoothest playing action series out there. Everything flows seamlessly from one attack to the next. In fact as I played I thought to myself it has been awhile since I have played these games, but the pick up and play factor is relatively easy and in no time I was back to killing baddies by the bucket load. I was stringing 15 hit chains with relative ease right off the hop. The PS3 controller felt a bit light in my hands, but it felt extremely comfortable at the same time. The only problem I had with the button arrangement was the soft feeling of the R2 and L2 shoulder buttons. They just didn’t have the impact or feel for what they needed to do. I got through the games, so again it is only a minor gripe.
Kratos' list of attacks is not only expansive but extremely brutal, as God of War is known for its gory and violent nature, capturing the absolute chaos and ruthlessness depicted within Greek mythology. Eventually you should be able to string together 100 hit combos made possible thanks to the amazing game mechanics and some really fancy button mashing. It is really rewarding to pull off a long chain against wave after wave of enemies.
Wielding a pair of chain blades permanently affixed to his forearms, Kratos is well equipped for any situation, with solid upgrade features too. You will also gain access to not just new moves, but also a variety of power ups and weapons which will come extremely handy throughout the game. The more I write this the more I want to play again.
It is the boss fights in these games that conjure the word epic. You simply have to see them for yourself on your PS3 in glorious HD to believe them. Some boss fights tower over you and take up so much of the game space that it is staggering. Even on a PS3 watching these bosses attack and animate is still extremely impressive. You will have to keep your wits about yourself while fighting these huge mythological creatures and gods, as it is easy to be absorbed by the fantastic size and scope of them. As usual the game has certain button requirements as you fight through the various bosses and thankfully they are the same as they were in the original games. In fact the game plays better than the older counterparts’ with a flow and smoothness not seen before.
One thing of note, all of the extra materials can be found in the media area of your XMB. At quick count there is over an hour and half of bonus materials to go through, more than the 2 games had together in bonus extras.
For fans that need an incentive to revisit these masterpieces other than the obvious HD upgrade, each game has a full list of trophies rewarding your accomplishments. That being said, apart from the included God of War III demo, do not expect anything in terms of new content. Thankfully, the old stuff is better than ever, and the demo makes waiting for the new game’s impending release a bit more bearable.
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