Review: God of War Collection

“They say one is the lonliest number that you’ll ever see…so add two and make it a threeway! Because it’s God of War and…ya know…”

When Sony removed the ability to play PS2 games on the PS3, many people sobbed over the decision. Nevermind that it helped reduce the price of the damn system, we wanted to play our last-gen games on our next-gen machine, dammit!! Well, this problem doesn’t bother me much as I didn’t wait around to buy a PS2-less PS3, but even if I did get a non-PS2 playing unit I still wouldn’t mind for a couple reasons: 1. I still own a PS2 and 2. It may give Sony more incentive to make more games like the God of War Collection. I mean, what we have here is two of the finest action games ever made on a single blu-ray disc with graphics upgraded to 1080p hi-def, courtesy of Sony Santa Monica and Bluepoint Games. If for some reason you’ve never played a GOW game, or even if you’ve beaten both games multiple times on the PS2, it’s time to get (Re) acquainted with the Ghost of Sparta, like you’ve never seen him before. 

By the gods, that’s gonna leave a mark”

I’m going to skip out on talking about the stories of these games, as discussing GOW2’s story would significantly spoil GOW1’s story. Just know that you play as Kratos, a brutal, un-sympathetic warrior of Sparta in quests for vengeance set against the backdrop of ancient Greece and Greek mythology. Throughout both games, Kratos will not only battle his way through mythical Greek beasts of legend, but also solve devious traps, puzzles and platforming segments. Both games also use the same basic control scheme: move with the left stick, jump with X, and evade with the right stick. Yes, there is no camera control in the GOW games, all angles are fixed…however this is also one of GOW’s strengths, giving players a very cinematic experience while never hindering the players view during fast-paced action. Both games without a shadow of a doubt have some of the best cinematic shots ever to grace video games, and they leave you in awe today just as they did 4-2 years ago. Combat was simple yet effective: square controlled Kratos’s quick attacks while triangle controlled his strong ones. Combinations of the two buttons allow Kratos to perform various combos. Kratos’s weapon of choice is the Blades of Chaos, twin blades fused to his arms by long chains that allow him to swing them around with deadly ease. Throughout GOW1 and 2, Kratos will also acquire various sub-weapons to use as well, such as the Blade of Artemis in GOW1, and Barbarian Hammer and Spear of Destiny in GOW2.

Kratos will also gain use of various magic attacks as well, ranging from GOW1 staples like Poseidon’s Rage (an area electrical attack) and Army of Hades (summon undead warriors to help you in battle), to GOW2’s Typhon’s Bane (a rapid-fire bow) and Atlas Quake (as I like to call it: Bringing down the pain :P). Of course, my favorite magic attack from both games is Medusa’s/Euryale’s gaze, where Kratos uses the severed heads of the gorgon sisters to turn his enemies into stone, which he can then shatter to pieces. Finally, Kratos can activate the rage of the gods/titans to put him into a super-powerful and near-invincible state that is very useful in tight situations (as long as you fill the meter by causing damage to enemies, of course). Finally, if GOW’s combat is remembered for anything it will probably be for the awesome QTE moments and finishing moves that Kratos can perform on most weakened enemies. On normal weakened enemies a prompt to press the circle button will appear over their heads, which will initiate a button pressing mini-game that ends in a brutal and very violent finishing move if done correctly…or a loss of health if a step in the chain is broken. Tying all this together is a very simple experience system where Kratos earns red orbs by defeating enemies and opening chests scattered around the environment. Kratos can then use these orbs to upgrade his weapons and magic to strengthen them and unlock additional and new attacks for them. It may not be as complicated and deep as other action games, but GOW combat is easily the most brutal, violent, and one of the most fun I’ve ever seen or played.

So, how does each game fare individually? Well back in 2005, God of War earned it’s critical acclaim by fusing together it’s excellent combat with a great story centered around a true anti-hero, cleverly designed multi-layered puzzles, excellent platforming segments, and phenomenal art direction and graphics. That being said, I didn’t find GOW1 to be 10/10 material for a few reasons. First, the game needed more boss fights. Kind of a weird complaint to have, but GOW1 only had 3 boss battles that were so good that it made you disappointed that the devs didn’t put in more. Secondly, while the combat was excellent, some of it wasn’t as refined as it should be. For example, sometimes it takes more than one push of the circle button when the prompt appears above some enemies to initiate the QTE, and that first push of the button that mysteriously fails leaves Kratos in a vulnerable grab animation that other enemies take advantage of quite a bit. Finally, there are some overly frustrating bits in the game, mostly involving Kratos having to move an object somewhere while spawning enemies come to attack and interrupt him. I imagine some people may yell obscenities at the human sacrifice bit. Besides those things, GOW1 remains a top action title and a must play 4 years after it’s first release. A sequel to it would have to raise the bar pretty high…

Oh and look, here comes God of War 2 not only to raise the bar, but also shatter it into a million tiny pieces. First released 2 years ago, GOW2 took everything that made GOW1 special and made it infinitely better! More weapons? You got it! More epic boss fights? You got it! Better story? You got it! Even better designed puzzles, traps, platforming, and variety? You got it! Refined gameplay shined to perfection? You got it! Even better art direction with even better graphics? Oh buddy…you got it! I can go on and on about how GOW2, even with the next-gen in full swing, came along and set the standard for all action epics to come, but all you really need to do is just experience it for yourself. From one of the best opening first-hours in all of gaming history all the way to the epic clash at the end, GOW2 is by far one of the most epic and fun games I have ever played, and in my book is worth the price of this collection alone.

By the gods, I never knew I was such a sexy beast!”

Besides having two of the PS2’s greatest games on one disc, the main attraction of this collection is the hi-def remastering of each game. Well, I’m pleased to report that these games have never looked better and it’s almost like playing them again for the first time. The image is sharp and clear, 2x Anti-ailiasing has been added to make jaggies pretty much non-existent, and both games are now locked at 60fps with ZERO screen-tearing (probably the biggest pet-peeve with both games on the PS2). Unfortunately, you will still get the occasional loading pause when moving to some areas in both games, but they don’t happen all too often to become a nuisance. Also, while GOW1 does still look mighty impressive in HD, it still only does look like an “upgraded PS2 game”, whereas there are some parts in GOW2 that could easily stand toe-to-toe with some PS3 games…and that was BEFORE this collection came out. I guess the only bad point would be that both game’s cinemas (in-game rendered and CGI) weren’t given the same converting treatment, and are rather just upscaled to HD and not rendered. Thankfully, even upscaled, the cinemas are still very impressive. Overall, Bluepoint games did a phenomenal job on the conversion, and fans and newcomers will no doubt be pleased.

Much like the gameplay, the very impressive audio for both games wasn’t tampered with at all. While I wouldn’t have minded a new DD5.1 mix for them, the original Pro logic 2 mixes still pack a phenomenal punch. The soaring and epic music scores and the above-average voice acting speak for themselves. Nothing else to say except brilliant.

The end begins…begins again.

The biggest extra added to both games is the inclusion of trophy support, and each game has it’s own list and Platinum trophy to earn. Other than that, all extras that were present in the original releases are all here: four different difficulties for each game, Challenge of the Gods/Titans, secret movies, bonus costumes, and a ton of behi
nd-the-scenes features and galleries.

Really, need I say more? Oh wait I can…all of this is only 40 bucks! Seriously, there is no excuse for any PS3 owner to not get this collection and experience two of the finest games ever made, ESPECIALLY God of War 2. If for some reason you’re dirt poor and can’t afford it, make it the first thing you ask Santa for this Christmas…preferably before you rip his head off and bathe in his blood. Hey, you need some practice before March, right?

+Seriously, you still need me to list why you need this collection?

-GOW1’s weak parts do stand out more when compared to GOW2.
-New DD5.1 mixes would have been nice

Reviewer’s Score: 10/10


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