With God of War 3 mere months from release, Sony is delving back into Kratos' dark past with God of War Collection. The package includes enhanced versions of God of War and God of War II, complete with re-mastered HD visuals and PS3 trophy support. Have the games aged well enough to justify a new excursion into Hades?
The God of War games got a lot of mileage out of their gory take on Greek mythology, and even after a few years time, they remain as gruesomely enticing as ever. Kratos' blood-soaked journey of redemption, betrayal, and revenge has him crossing blades with a veritable who's who of the Greek pantheon, and it's sure to get your blood pumping at almost every turn. It's a great cinematic experience that really nails the execution, delivering memorable dialogue and intense cutscenes.
The God of War are all about hacking and slashing your way through enormous, albeit linear, worlds. Their scale is often staggering, and though there are a few opportunities for exploration and deviation here and there, they're tightly scripted for the most part. Many of the sequences involve tearing enemies asunder with brutal combos courtesy of your trusty arsenal of weapons and spells, each of which can be upgraded as you progress. In addition to leaving a massive body count behind, you'll also need to use Kratos' agility and brawn to tackle the numerous platform sequences and puzzles.
It's all done very well; the games strike a great balance between the three major components. They seldom fall prey to dull moments, largely thanks to their expert pacing. You never have to engage in a particular activity long enough for it to bore you. Your objectives become increasingly more complex and challenging, and there is no shortage of monstrous boss encounters. No matter how many times we've tackled these towering adversaries, the epic clashes with beasts such as the hydra or the colossus still rank among the most memorable battles out there.
Altogether, there's easily around 20 hours of action between the two games. And for the more dedicated fans who truly wish to show something for the blood and sweat they've shed, the inclusion of trophy support only sweetens the deal.
With their focus on gratuitous combos and graphic, brutal payoffs, the God of War games are just as fast and fun as you remember. Newcomers will find it easy to get in on the action, though it will take some dedication to master it. The extravagant quicktime events haven't changed, either; expect grisly rewards if you succeed at them, or tedious do-overs if you fail.
The combat has definitely withstood the test of time, and for the most part, so have the puzzles and platforming. If it's been a while since you've played these games, though, you might have forgotten about the fixed camera angles, which will cause some headaches during the more intense platforming segments. But thanks to the cleaner presentation, it's easier to discern specifics elements in the environment, such as areas on walls that you can climb or blocks that can be wedged out and pulled around as weights. It's a fair trade off.
God of War blew us away with its visuals back in 2005, and its sequel easily pushed the PS2 to its limits. But in this day and age, SD games usually find it harder to measure up. To remedy this, Sony redid much of the games' visuals, and added full 720p support, both with impressive results. The one catch is that many of the cutscenes didn't receive the same treatment, and the stark contrast in clarity between them and the in-game sequences serves an ironic testament to just how slick the new visuals are.
God of War Collection provides the definitive versions of two PS2 classics. If you've never played them before, there's never been a better time to check them out. For hardcore fans, the updated visuals amount to experiencing these stellar games with fresh eyes. Consider the God of War III demo included in the package icing on the cake.
Reviewed on Sony Playstation 3.