God Of War Collection is easily the most essential re-release of a last-gen title since Capcom’s 2007 Wii update of Resident Evil 4. There is nothing retrograde or antiquated about the God Of War formula (which, still unchanged, managed to deliver us one of 2010’s very best PS3 games) and both of the gems in this redux package have lost none of their power to ceaselessly entertain. It should really speak depressing volumes about the current state of the industry that two of the best PS2 games in history still stand apart in the subsequent console generation; instead, they stand merely as testimony to a formula that started perfectly, and somehow improved from there.
God Of War III may still feature the finest graphics of any videogame yet made, but if you can let that unfair comparison slide, new fans will be just as satisfied with these first two installments. They’re both smaller in scope (with PS2 architecture obviously allowing for far fewer enemies to appear onscreen at any one time) but the faultless ebb and flow of the combat still makes for some outstanding entertainment, even when compared to the likes of SEGA’s almost untouchable Bayonetta. Cutscenes are shorter and won’t make your jaw drop, but latecomers to the party surely won’t care. The gameplay is everything.
As with God Of War III, the real unsung hero here is the writer Marianne Krawczyk. Her coupling of a disarming brand of dark humour (and a sharp way with a jet-black wisecrack) with a courteous reverence for Greek mythology is as potent a concoction as ever, and everything is admirably stabilised by some deeply cinematic (but commendably brief) cutscenes. It’s an odd experience to feel nourished both by a game’s storyline in addition to the gameplay that supports it, and it’s also most definitely an uncommon one.
If there is one problem with God Of War Collection (and there is only one) it’s that the cutscenes haven’t had the same HD remix that the in-game visuals have. It causes the transitions between them to jarr somewhat, but that only really serves to highlight just how much hard work has gone into the in-game stuff. It really does look quite amazing (especially if you played the originals on the PS2) and both God Of War and its sequel run at a silky-smooth 60 frames-per-second – a rate that never stumbles.
Considering the budget price, Sony could quite easily have slapped the original versions of these two classics onto a disc and very few people would have complained. Instead, they’ve given them both shiny high definition visuals, and full trophy support. Both games are still as furiously compelling as ever, and the argument about whether or not God Of War 2 represents the very best episode of the series continues to rage on amongst the fans. That’s a tough call, but every owner of a Playstation 3 should be in a position to have an opinion on it.
Watch the God Of War Collection trailer here…