Reviewed: September 4, 2011
Released: September 13, 2011
If you asked anyone today ďWhoís the first character you think of on the PlayStation brand?Ē the answer is more than likely to be Kratos. Even if youíve never played a God of War game in your life, most will recognize the ashen skin and wicked trademark blades of one of the greatest franchise heroes ever. Since its brutal beginnings back in 2005, the God of War series has since released two critically acclaimed sequels as well as two PSP titles that delved into the past of the coolest badass to grace any console or handheld.|
Two years ago, PS3 users were reintroduced to Kratos all over again with 1080p HD remastered graphics. Things have now come full circle as the PSP titles God of War: Chains of Olympus and God of War: Ghost of Sparta get their own shot in the HD spotlight with the release of God of War: Origins Collection for PS3 in just a few weeks. This will mark the first time a PSP title (or rather two) will get the remastered treatment and I just bet it wonít be the last. It also marks the first time that Iíve ever played these two fantastic titles let alone back to back and the first time Iíve been truly hooked on the series since its creation.
For those not familiar with the series, God of War: Origins Collection is a great place to start your journey with Kratos. Both stories take place in ancient Greek Mythology and require little to no knowledge of the series to play either game, although it wouldn't hurt to have played at least the original God of War before tackling Ghost of Sparta for story continuity purposes.
For those of you like me who have never played either title before on the PSP, a brief history lesson is needed. God of War: Chains of Olympus starts off telling the tale of Spartan warrior Kratos during his ten year servitude to the gods in the city of Attica, which is being attacked by the Persian Empire. Itís not long before Kratos is entangled in a plot to bring about the destruction of the world by Persephone and Titan Atlas. This installment features Kratosí trademark Blades of Chaos as well as several new weapons and magical abilities along the way such as the Gauntlet of Zeus, which I used excessively the farther I got into the story.
God of War: Ghost of Sparta kicks off after the events of the original God of War. Once again we take a trip down a painful memory lane as Kratos, the new God of War, decides to seek out his dying mother despite Athenaís warning not to do so. After a fateful meeting, Kratos learns that his brother Deimos is still alive imprisoned by Thanatos, the God of Death. Kratos puts his Blades of Athena to good use as he fights newly redesigned Minotaur, harpies and gorgon and a few epic boss fights. Kratos gains a few new tools to aid him including the fiery recharging Theraís Bane and the highly versatile Arms of Sparta. This game also showcases the new QTE button prompts that are now intuitively located on the edge of the screen that corresponds to their respective button placement on the controller.
Both of these titles are worthy of praise and benefit from the same smooth 60fps gameplay as the God of War Collection though there is a clear winner between the PSP titles. Chains of Olympus may have proved that a God of war title could exist on the PSP, but Ghost of Sparta knocked this PS3 collection out of Hades for me. Combat in this visually and technically updated package is incredibly fluid and consistent even when deep in the heat of battle. I almost forgot that I was playing a game that was designed for a much smaller screen, as I was hooked on Ghost of Spartaís wicked boss fights and dangerous locales.
To add to the fluid combat, the Origins Collection features graphics that vary per title, but the characters and creatures really pop off the screen with newly remastered textures. As I mentioned, Ghost of Sparta benefits the most from its big screen release and that includes its sharper cut scenes as well. The older title, Chains of Olympus, does suffer a bit in various places such as the detail on Kratos. The action can also really pop off the screen with the addition of Stereoscopic 3D, and you'll feel like youíre in the fight with DualShock 3 and rumble support. Interestingly enough, the addition of a right analog stick doesn't improve the actual gameplay as much as you might expect. The camera is still under a virtual director's control, and the right stick is used for evasive moves.
If you thought Chains of Olympus and Ghost of Sparta sounded good through the PSPís speakers or headphones, then just wait until you hear it on a home theater system with full DTS and/or Dolby Digital Surround Sound. The level of 3D sound immersion was unexpected with some fantastic sound effects, both environmental and real-time action sounds, and the music and atmosphere in Ghost of Sparta is nearly worth the price of admission. The awesome voice acting continues in both titles, as all the major players return to reprise their iconic roles.
Just like their predecessors, you will spend your time in both titles collecting Gorgon Eyes and Phoenix feathers, solving the occasional box based puzzle as you make your way through complex worlds. So if youíre a completionist itís definitely a good idea to look everywhere especially if youíre in it for the newly added trophies. There is also downloadable content, videos, and a series of challenges to fight your way through. This $40 dollar package also contains the Legionnaire Kratos costume and the Forest of the Forgotten Combat arena for Ghost of Sparta. You can even watch the included ďThe God of War - Game Directors LiveĒ documentary and learn about each directorís take on the masterpieces that they have created.
Iíve always enjoyed the God of War series and the memories that I have of my brother and I searching my hometown for a copy of the original and playing for hours. The God of War: Origins Collection has recaptured that magic that I fell in love with nearly six years ago. This is an addition to your PS3 collection that any God of War fan canít be without.