God of War Collection: catchup review

God of War is one of Sony’s most lucrative franchises, so it comes as no surprise that after the release of the latest entry in the series, God of War 3, they have gone back to the original two PS2 games and have remastered them for backward compatibility starved PS3 owners. The first two games really pushed the PS2 hardware in terms of graphical clout, and even though they don’t come close to the amazing third chapter, they are still pretty impressive to behold in all their upscaled HD glory. Blue Point Games have taken the time to use anti-aliasing to buff up the PS2 graphics and the result is really smooth visuals with no jaggies to be seen. In fact when the cut scenes come into play, they look noticeably worse than the in-game graphics, with jagged edges and blurring prevalent. The conversion also however runs at a smooth 60fps, with no sign of slowdown in even the most epic of encounters.

Talk about chip on shoulder!

The original God of War is the tale of Kratos. A Spartan warrior who pleads for Ares the God of War’s help, when he is getting defeated in battle with Barbarians. Unfortunately this leads to Kratos becoming Ares’ lap dog, which sounds like a political metaphor to recent UK and US relations. Once Kratos wins the battle he goes on a killing frenzy with power going to his head, and Ares tricks him into killing his own wife and child. Which sets Kratos off on a mission for brutal revenge on the God of War.

This is hack and slash gameplay at its best, with plenty of moves to keep things fresh, and lots of different powers that are picked up, after defeating bosses, to aid you in your quest. The use of Greek mythology is an inspired one, with plenty of gods and monsters to use in the game’s epic storyline. In fact in many ways it reminds us of the old special effects wizard Ray Harryhausen’s movies of Jason and the Argonauts and Clash of the Titans, which used Greek mythology to great effect. It’s not just the combat that impresses in the game though, as there are plenty of puzzles to keep the brain active as the adrenaline kicks in. When you are attempting to find Pandora’s Box to defeat Ares, some of the puzzles are akin to Tomb Raider, and can take a while to solve; but are a welcome relief to all the merciless killing. There are also several boss encounters which can take some time before you gain the correct tactic to exploit your enemy’s weak point. The pacing in the game is also worthy of a mention as you never spend too long doing the same thing over and over, but the game moves you onto something completely different.

You fight this giant gold idol early in the second game.

While God of War is extremely impressive, its sequel ups the ante considerably, with an even more impressive graphics engine than the original – and some absolutely staggering boss encounters that puts many current PS3 games to shame. From the aerial battles on Pegasus to battling a monstrous gold statue on the outside, before finishing the battle inside the statue itself, the game is breathtaking in its set pieces. Equally, the puzzles are a bit more elaborate than the original game. The plot of the second game has the newly installed God of War, Kratos, getting reckless with all his power and eventually he is betrayed by Zeus himself, has all his power drained from him, and is left to die. Kratos has other ideas though, and battles back from Hades itself and is aided by the Titans, mortal enemies of the Gods. They tell Kratos to find the Sisters of Fate, who will enable him to return through time to when he was betrayed, and exact his bloody revenge on Zeus. With a lot more variety than the original game, this was a cracking end to the series on PS2 and leads the series nicely into the PS3 era.

Kratos tries a new technique of Chinese rope burn!

The games aren’t without their faults though, and some platforming parts – particularly in the original game – can be joypad snappingly frustrating. Also some of the QTE sections can annoy players, as you rotate the stick around in different directions to finish a boss, but the game doesn’t give you enough time between the moves and you regularly fail. Also the enemies begin to get re-used a bit too much, with many a Gorgon or Minotaur being fought all too frequently. This means a lot of battles feel the same, with the designers just throwing, say, an extra Gorgon into the mix to make things more interesting. Kratos himself is not exactly the most charismatic or likeable of characters, and his constant angry demeanor reminds you of a spoiled teenager in a strop (Been there done that!). Some of his more tender moments with his wife also feel totally out of context with the character, and feel a bit cheesy and forced.

But all-in-all this is one series of games that you really need to play, as once it gets its Blades of Chaos into you you’ll be hooked, and for £20 there is a lot of entertainment to be had. It might be a cynical exploitation of the PS3 backwards compatibility issue, but by God this is one War worth winning.


8/10

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Written by Kevin M

I've been addicted to gaming since my parents bought an Atari console way back in the 70's. I progressed to the iconic Speccy, Amiga, and all the Playstation platforms. Having seen games evolve from single pixel bat and ball, to HD constructed environments, gaming has changed much from my early years. Having defeated the rock hard R-Type on the Speccy, the biggest challenge I've faced so far is putting up with the hordes of American teens spouting abuse in the current generation of consoles, noob indeed!

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