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God of War is well known for being a lot better in terms of story line, platforming and puzzling than most hacky slashy fun genre titles, and it's not often you'll find many PS2 games adapted and lovingly buffed up for a jaunt on the PS3, but all hail God of War, for Sony hath deemed it worthy of HD resolution and a bucket of trophies... and wether you admit it or not, you love collecting trophies, i know i do.
The package comes with God of War and God of War 2 and the two changes i mentioned above (high resolution and trophies) are just about the only real changes, but i have to say i was taken back by how great these little gems are looking now, and they run as smooth as milk I can tell you, it's really very noticeable and so they get their dues there.
If you haven't played the series but own a PS3 then this is the place to start, there's no doubt there, we'll start by taking a look at God of War, the original.
First released in 2005 you take the role of Kratos, once a captain of the spartan army and a feared warrior of great prowess, in a battle with the barbarians kratos is on the verge of defeat and at the mercy of the barbarian leader, calling upon Ares for aid, the god of war leads Kratos to victory and now Kratos has become a servant of Ares. During a campaign Ares tricks Kratos into killing his family in an effort to make Kratos the perfect warrior, but Kratos renounces his service to Ares choosing to serve the other gods instead. For ten years he is plagued by visions of the family he killed and the Goddess Athena promises Kratos that should he murder Ares, the gods will lift the curse of visions from him, Athena needs Kratos to kill Ares because Zeus has forbidden the gods from fighting with one another on Olympus.
God of War is based around Greek mythology (albeit loosely) and from the first moments in the game you start to get the epic feel, most of the sets in god of war are huge, imposing and utterly fantastic, even for a PS2 title, the scenery and game areas are beautifully rendered and just smack of effort by the development team, when fighting your way through Athens you can see the giant form of Ares aiding his army in sacking the city and the huge buildings loom over you. In fact huge monsters loom over you as well, but that's never been much of a problem for Kratos.
Your chief weapons are the blades of chaos, chains of servitude burned into Kratos's wrist by Ares, at the end of which are the blades themselves. You acquire another weapon later on in the game, the Blade of Artemis, you'll also be aided by the gods as they each impart upon Kratos a magic spell or two, you are also gifted with the "Rage of Gods" an ability which makes Kratos invulnerable for a short while.
As you progress you can begin to upgrade your weapons and other goodies with red orbs, obtained by slaughtering enemies of course, you can also grab green orbs for health and blue for magic, recharging the rage rage of the gods meter comes from slaughtering enemies... (of course). You can also upgrade the health bar and magic bar with suitably themed items, Gorgon eyes for your health and pheonix feathers for the magic bar. I think i mentioned in another god of war review (3 i think) that the upgrade paths are a minor bug bear for me, you tend to focus on your weapons because they're the most important thing to upgrade, so your magic seems to become a little derelict and later on in the game when you really feel you need it, it seems weak and useless against your enemies, but it's a minor thing, and it's just a lesson in using your experience points wisely (never been easy for me!).
Most of the time in both games will be spent swinging those blades like a death whirlygig, but should you get bored, some minor enemies can be dispatched and literally ripped apart with a wee tap of the circle button, he can then swing them round on the end of his chains and launch them into the air! Endless fun!
The stiffness from the PS2 version is there but it's an awful lot better than it was, and as iv'e said in other GOW reviews swinging those blades just never ever gets old! It's so satisfying and it fits the character so well, the fighting style seems so angry and fiery like Kratos himself, it's a real nice touch, i really enjoyed playing the updated version of the original, and now with as few spoilers as possible we'll take a gander at God of War 2.
Starting where the first game left off, Kratos is the new god of war, still haunted by visions of his family he joins his beloved spartan army and attempts to destroy the city of Rhodes, Zeus intervenes and tricks kratos into imbuing his power into the blade of Olympus, he offers Kratos a final chance to be a servant of the gods once again, But Kratos refuses and Zeus kills him.
As Kratos is being dragged into the underworld, the Titan Gaia saves him, she Informs Kratos that he must find the sisters of fate and go back in time to prevent Zeus from killing him.
The same God of War style action is back in the second installment, also the same upgrade system, there's some new toys for Kratos to play with to.
In the previous game Kratos had the blades of chaos, he's got the blades of Athena for this one which offers some new combos and magic, and Rage of the Gods is replaced with Rage of the Titans.
As far as graphics go, it's a nice leap from the first title and you start the game fighting the Collosus of Rhodes! Not only is he huge but he looks great too! In fact there are a lot more bosses in this game, and there all great offering Kratos some fun new ways to kill huge creatures! The game runs incredibly smoothly in this updated version, to be fair the PS2 version was very smooth but this is a lot better, it really felt like an early PS3 title when it came out and now it plays even more like one, for a PS2 title it was incredibly well put together.
Whereas the first game seemed to be a lot more story driven, this game seems more action and puzzle based, but they pull it off nicely, one particular moment, (horrifyingly violent of course) involves protecting a scholar so you can force him to read an ancient text... by smashing his face into it of course, it seems that with every puzzle Kratos's ability to solve it by smashing something or killing something always comes in handy! It's no secret that i'm a big fan of the God of war series in general, but I genuinely feel, that they are excellent games and every gamer should have them in their library. You should like Greek mythology if you decide to play these games, but i think even if you don't, there's not so much Ancient Greek style shoved down your gullet to make it unpalatable for any gamer really.
A little note on the soundtrack, both games have a fantastic soundtrack, the thing we most remember in music, especially game music is a damn good melody, and among'st the fantastic orchestration you'll be surprised how much you remember, it got caught in my head one morning i remember, making toast has never been so epic, and now whenever i think of toast that Kratos theme just gets in my head!
I have a great love for any game that can drive a story with it's soundtrack and God of War is no exception, every moment has a sound tailored for it and that really shows the effort of the designers, everything in the games blends so nicely, and it's getting rarer and rarer to see that kind of thing in newer titles.
Overall both of the games have been really nicely retouched and if you've never played the series then this is the way to go, and if you loved the series before then why the hell not eh? it'll sit nicely in your game library. You can't fault it on price either, for the cost of one reasonably good game, you get two amazing classics! watcha waitin fer?
I was somewhat behind the times when I picked up God of War: Collection a few months ago. It's a series that has sold in massive numbers, swept review scores and is now considered one of the Playstation's strongest franchise. Despite all the, the series never really appealed to me. With few exceptions, I don't enjoy hack and slash, blood and guts action games and the series' imitators consistently fail to make a good impression. However, with little else to play at the moment that isn't a sequel, aimed at my grandma or full of soldiers, I grabbed it.
The so-called "collection" consists of the first two titles, originally released for the PS2, so more of a "pair" really. The games follow Kratos, a Spartan warrior who finds himself embroiled in a typically greek epic, searching for revenge. Over the course of the two games you will learn Kratos' back story as well as guiding him on his quest to fight hordes of undead soldiers, solve a range of puzzles and kill monsters at least ten times his size. There is a fair variety of gameplay style throughout both games and I was actually very surprised by the puzzle element. Challenges tend to be tricky and make you think it through but rarely reach the level of frustrating. They also slow the game down somewhat, giving it a less frenetic pace. Puzzle areas are punctuated by sequences of combat in which you can perform intricate but simple attacks, strung together into combos for bonuses. It's fairly satisfying though ultimately shallow. The game's really trump card is in the monster battles, here the game pits you against giant titans, sea serpents, gorgons and cyclops, each monster is defeated differently and offers different rewards for completion and can be an experience in itself.
It's not perfect however, the gameplay elements often feel a little cynically balanced and you can usually tick them off in order as you go. Locked door puzzle, corridors of soldiers, different puzzle, big monster. It's all very routine by the end of the first game and unfortunately both games are essentially identical, the game plods through but rarely flows. I never felt myself on the grand adventure, rather I moved through a sequence of sterile set pieces.
Characterisation is a shortcoming also. The protagonist is a walking cliche "bad-ass" the Americans love so much. Across two games I learnt only two things about him, his family have died in some tragedy and he really likes to kill people. Over the course of the game I dismembered, decapitated and defaced several thousand monsters, people and even gods in some pretty horrific ways and eventually I realised the game wanted me to feel sorry for Kratos. The supporting cast aren't much better and basically consist of incredibly evil gods, incredibly nice gods and mortal wimps. The plot never twists, veers slightly or even meanders, it just runs through both games as as a simple line of people Kratos decides to kill to reach his goal. It's not just unsophisticated, it's mind bogglingly juvenile.
Of course, the cause of this puerile nonsense is in the games attempt to sell violence on its own merits. I am not a member of the anti-violence crowd and I have never really bought into the argument that some people can't differentiate between fact and fiction but that doesn't change the fact that violence in itself does not interest me. This game is violent, not just violent in a typical "the objective is to kill everything" video game but really, truly violent. Every character animation, every cutscene, every level, every monster invariably features some gruesome death or intense physical effect. These don't bother me, they certainly don't offend me but they still commit the worst sin a game can commit, they don't entertain me. God of War seems to have been created to appeal to the particular market that finds violence, for lack of a better word, "cool."
One area in which God of War: Collection is fascinating is in its technical characteristics. As I said before, these were originally PS2 games, however instead of straight ports they have been remastered. What I found most impressive about this is how little the remastering actually entailed and the end result. Essentially the only significant improvement that has been made is an increase in resolution from the meager, sub-TV resolution of the PS2 versions to 720p. There are several hundred thousand extra pixels making up the picture and the result is phenomenal. God of War I and II arrived towards the end of the PS2's life and given enough resolution to strut their stuff it becomes obvious for the first time just how much these games were pushing the hardware. The special effects such as fire or billowing cloth exceed anything else we saw in the last generation and many of the character models are excellent. The game's heritage is only occasionally betrayed when the lower quality textures become apparent, but once you're into the game this is almost invisible.
Work has also been done on the game's framerate, the game now runs at a solid, never faltering 60 frames per second. This is very smooth and really makes the heavy action sequences feel beautiful to play. Very few games can pull off full 60fps even now so it's good to have. Lastly, they have taken the very welcome decision to add trophy support to the original games and each title comes with a complete set of trophies including a platinum .
God of War: Collection is not exactly what I would call my kind of game but there were times when I did have a lot of fun playing it. I think its narrative and characters lean towards an unsavoury direction, a direction that vindicates the perception of gaming and gamers in the eyes of the media. That bothers me. It is, however, at times very challenging and well polished. For anyone who enjoyed the PS2 released, the conversion to PS3 has been a really excellent upgrade and I'll be very interested to see other PS2 games get the same treatment in future.
The God of War Collection contains remastered copies of the acclaimed PS2 titles 'God of War' and 'God of War 2'. Both games have been graphically improved by smoothing textures, updating cutscenes and enabling the games to run at a full 60 frames per second. Some users even claim that the controls are more responsive too. Gameplay has been enhanced by incorporating full trophy support in both games. So now we know what's improved, what are these games all about?
You play as protagonist Kratos in a dark Ancient Greece inspired world inhabited by every demon you can think of from ancient tales. Kratos was once the leader of the Spartan army and dreamt of becoming a powerful being. He slaughtered many people in his time and now his past haunts him. He has visions of the terrible acts he has committed in his past and seeks the help of the God's in ridding him of his nightmares. Fortunately they have just the task for him...
To say anymore would spoil it for you. Sufficed to say that the story unravels with many plot twists and contains the most mature of themes. This games is rated 18 for a reason. There is nudity, violence and gore a plenty in the God of War Collection so you wooses out there have been warned!
Kratos as a character is quite likeable in that he is an actual badass rather than the usual 'Nathan Drake' style characters we've been seeing in gaming lately. He has his goal in mind and is set on destruction, murder and no-one stands in his way. He will happily kill innocents (and so will you as they give you much needed health ka ching) and betray his allies.
Controlling Kratos is a dream like fluid experience, moves and magic flow from him with ease with just a few button presses (or bashes in the really intense parts!). The combat system is simple to use on the surface but opens up later on as more weapons and magic powers become available.
So you can probably tell by now that this is an action adventure/hack and slash game. The reason that the series is surrounded by so much hype is because it is the best game of it's kind out there. It may even be better than my beloved Devil May Cry 3 which is not easy to admit! The range of enemies keeps the game fresh as each requires a different set of tactics, the game punishes you by combing enemies in the most annoying way possible. An example of this is facing off against 8 super fast swordsman demons whilst dodging and trying to kill a giant Cyclops with a nasty spiky spinny mace type thing! It can be hard times let me tell you now!
As well as fighting you'll also do a bit of platforming/puzzle solving. Now the puzzle solving is really quite excellent and requires you to think about what you're doing. If you find yourself in a room of infinitely spawning harpies flying about and trying to kill you, drag a couple of statues in front of the holes in the wall to block their entry point. Super. The platforming isn't as exciting at times. Climbing across a narrow beam and nearly falling to your death because some terrible demon is knocking you off every two seconds is frustrating for sure. It doesn't take away from the game as a whole though in any way! Some games just do it better -cough- Devil May Cry -cough-
All in all God of War Collection is an absolutely essential game for PS3 owners. It is a key franchise and no other platform has a similar series of such high quality. You're getting two full 15 hour games at a bargain reduced price at only around £18 at the moment if you look in the right places. I got mine from Shopto but I haven't checked the prices recently, Zavvi may also have it at a decent price! Buy it and support the exclusives, you have a PS3 for a number of reasons and this is one of them!
Having skipped the PS2 console completely, I was reluctant to buy the God of War collection for my PS3. I've become a bit of a HD snob in the last couple of years and didn't really fancy playing an "old" game on my nice new TV and PS3.
I feared that instead of looking great in HD, these games would just highlight how much better the PS3 is than its predecessors. Would a PS2 game running at 60 frames per second in HD just draw attention to the limitations of previous generation console gaming?
I eventually caved and bought it, because I didn't want to play God of War 3 without knowing the back story. I'm glad I did, because I've already written off a few weekends to playing this.
To answer my own questions about the HD remake, yes, it's obvious that these are PS2 games, and the crispness of HD means that everything looks a bit sharp and clinical - the effect is similar to when an old comic that was originally printed on newsprint gets reissued on glossy paper.
Some of the cut scenes (in God of War 1 in particular) look really awful, while others seem to have been re-rendered or flawlessly upscaled and look amazing.
God of War 2 fares better in general, and the opening sequence almost rivals early PS3 games, like the very similar Heavenly Sword, for visual impact.
The games haven't just had a visual upgrade; full PS3 trophy support has been added, including one for dying too often. I'm sad to say I got this one about a third of the way through GoW1.
The one glaringly last-gen aspect of the Collection is that it doesn't allow you to save your progress whenever you want, you must wait until you find a save point. But it's so playable that you'll probably want to play through to the next save point anyway.
In short, the God of War collection is excellent, and could well open the door to more HD remakes of classic last-gen games. Provided they are handled with as much care this was, I welcome being able to play some of the games I missed out on in the past.
The smoke has cleared since the release of the incredible God of War 3, and it's somewhat ignited my desire to go back to the original games and plough through them again. This excellent set revives both classic games with some visual enhancements to create a startling new presentation while retaining the same astounding gameplay experience.
It goes without saying that these GoW games - originally released for the PS2 - really pushed their original console to the limits (especially the second game). GoW2 in particular was able to stand toe-to-toe with some of the first games released for the PS3, and so not a whole lot needed to be done to make it look splendid in HD. Thankfully, with the PS3, the frame rate and draw distance limitations of the PS2 have been smashed to pieces, and we get here a far more refined gameplay experience.
The most impressive enhancement is that some full-1080 HD cut-scenes have actually been slotted into the two games at pivotal points, making things that bit more grandiose and adding a little bit of value to things. Also, some extra Behind the Scenes clips that the other games didn't have are included here, giving you a genuinely interesting insight into the creative process.
Though a lot of game series have tried this sort of thing, rarely is it done as well as it is here; the amazing original games have been well-retooled in a way that doesn't seem cheap or crass. If you have a non-PS2 compatible PS3 and fancy playing the original GoW games with crisper visuals, then this is well worth a go (and there are trophies too!). And if you've never played them BUT have beaten GoW3, then it is an absolute MUST.