In 2005, God of War burst onto the scene, and it remains one of my favorite PlayStation 2 games much more one of my favorite games from last generation. With God of War 3 just around the corner, releasing next month, Sony has come out with a compendium of God of War lore, both God of War games, and a bunch of cool extras. For people who have played both games before, is it worth another dip?
God of War Collection features both the original God of War and the sequel God of War II upscaled into HD glory, and all on one Bluray disc. games. Let’s not forget PSN trophy support for both games and a collection of extras from interviews with the staff to new costumes for Kratos to sport. The games look particularly good in the HD resolution with impressive visuals and effects, and they look like haven’t aged a day despite being out for six or so years. Throw in 720p support for you tech geeks out there, and this collection definitely compares well to other games on the system. The same can’t be said for the cut-scenes which have remained in SD and like their PS2 brethren. There’s a stark contrast between what you get during normal gameplay and what you get during cur-scenes. Overall though, this is but a minor gripe, one of many I have with this collection.
The tale of God of War stars Kratos and runs the gamut of who’s-who in Greek mythology. Kratos is a servant to the Gods, a former Spartan warrior, and a former father and husband. He lost it all on one faithful battle dedicating his life to Ares, the God of War, in exchange for his survival that day. Tricked into murdering his wife and child, Kratos, a mere mortal, decides then and there to go against Ares, a god, and take him down for good. It’s a tale of betrayal and revenge, and it’s told through intriguing narrative and gripping cut-scenes. Kratos is slowly losing his humanity, and it shows throughout the first two God of War games.
Meanwhile, God of War II delves into Kratos’ time as God of War. Having defeated Ares and received the title of God of War, his memories and past still haunt him. In order to alleviate these nightmares, Kratos must try to change something that no mere man or god has ever been able to change– fate.
The God of War franchise is known for its visceral and oftentimes gruesome action. You’ll constantly be put into battle against enemies that Kratos can tear apart, limb from limb, leaving a bloody trail of destruction where ever he roams. There’s three parts to God of War: platforming, puzzling, and fighting. The game’s designed so you’re always cycling between these three things so the player is always on their toes. The levels you weave in and out of can take your breath of away with their intense sense of scale, especially in God of War II. While the levels are large and expansive, they’re not all that linear. There’s constantly chests hidden in and out of sight containing health, magic, health and magic boosting items, and blood, the currency of the God of War series, gained from chests and by defeating enemies. You use blood to power up your weapons and spells, making them all the more powerful to defeat frenzied foes.
Speaking of foes, none are bigger and better than the boss battles. These foes are simply enormous. Even after playing through them multiple times, they’re still breath-taking and enjoyable to play. They all have their attacks that need to be dodged or blocked much like the smaller enemies the games unleash onto Kratos. When weakened, it’s quick-time event time. You press or mash the button shown on the screen in fast enough fashion to have Kratos attack and kill the beast in a usually gratuitously violent matter, ripping eyes from cyclops, snapping the neck of a Medusa, y’know playing nice. This can be a problem though for some people such as myself who view button mashing to the equivalent of Wii remote waggling. It’s unintuitive, and it just gets tedious doing the same mashing over and over again. You mash to kill enemies, to parry attacks, to open doors (which is an effort in frustration all to itself via the Dual Shock 3′s wimpy R2 button), and to pull switches.
In God of War and God of War II, combat can be as simple or as complex as the difficulty you set the game on. Easy mode allows for straight-up button mashing with little or no finesse needed. The later difficulties require Kratos to block and be conservative in his attacking. You can roll out of danger with the right analog stick, block with the L1 button, and utilize heavy and weak attacks with the X and square buttons. When an enemy is dazed or if he’s facing a small enemy, Kratos can grab them, enter a QTE or just rip them apart with ease.
The God of War games are huge cinematic blockbusters that have definitely stood the test of time. That said, the game’s fixed camera angles can be a serious headache, especially when doing delicate platforming or trying to see what you’re attacking. Add in some overly frustrating sections of the game, and you have some problems. Regardless, death usually means starting over from the same room, and there’s plenty of save points scattered around the game’s levels to keep things fair and never rage-quitting bad.
All-in-all, God of War Collection is a worthwhile purchase especially for newcomers to the franchise. There’s never been a better opportunity to hop aboard the God of War train. The upgraded-to-HD visuals and extra content make this a great game to pick up even if you’ve played the original God of War and God of War II ad infinitum. Throw in the E3 demo of God of War III, and you have one deal that’s difficult to resist. For a terrific way of hyping yourself up for God of War III and a game with tons of replayability, there’s no title better than God of War Collection.