What better time is there to revisit two earlier episodes from a franchise than in the months leading up to the next entrant in the series? Sony believes – and they're probably right – that there is no better time, hence their release of the God of War Collection, a single release containing the first two God of War games. God of War III is due out in March, but right now, the Collection is your only chance to live out an adventure as Kratos if you don't have a backwards compatible PlayStation. And, if you do have a backwards compatible PlayStation you still won't be able to play as Kratos in high definition without this compilation.
Though this game contains no changes to the actual content of God of War and God of War II (including the bonus videos, which for God of War II can be accessed from the video section of the XMB), the games have been remastered in high definition (720p)… mostly. In-game cutscenes have not been altered and unquestionably are jarring when they begin and look pretty poor throughout. When playing the game one won't confuse the title for a game originally made for the PlayStation 3, but the titles do look better than when the were released for the PS2 in 2005 and 2007 respectively.
The title contains two other things folks won't have gotten if they purchased the original two God of War titles – a code to download the God of War III demo, and trophies. It is difficult to conceive anyone would be willing to purchase a game they were not truly in love with the first time out in order to have these three additions, but anyone who has not already ventured into the world of Ancient Greece as Kratos would do well to consider purchasing the Collection.
Without spoiling much of what takes place – and to delve too deeply into the plot of either could definitely ruin some of the twists and turns occur in the first game – in both games you are Kratos, a ludicrously angry individual. He mainly goes around with his Blades of Chaos and later his Blades of Athena (other weapons do appear as well and Kratos does gain the use of some magic spells), destroying anything and everything in his path – or, at least the stuff that is destroyable, the environments in both games are filled with things you'll think you can destroy but which are wholly untouchable. His enemies are, not surprisingly of the mythic Greek variety. Kratos faces minotaurs, gorgons, various types of undead, and the occasional Greek God amongst other enemies.
Kratos attacks in hack-and-slash fashion, with different button combos performing different moves. As you advance through the game you can level-up your blades (and magic) and unlock different attacks. No matter what you learn though, you will probably die and die repeatedly. The game does contain a plethora of save spots and checkpoints so that when you die you won't lose too much progress.
One major word of warning, both games here are full of hit-the-right-button-in-order-to-kill-your-opponent minigames. If you aren't someone who appreciates it when a big picture of a button on your controller appears on screen demanding that you push it, and then another, and then another, and then another, all as they pop up in turn you will find yourself mightily perturbed at times. In fact, you'll probably be almost as perturbed as everyone who plays the games is with camera, which has pre-set points of view, many of which don't actually allow you to look in quite the right direction at the right time.
Quibbles aside, there is a ton of enjoyment to be had in the God of War Collection. The story told is an epic one, and full of wanton blood and destruction. There is something inherently thrilling about running around Greece smiting gods. Call it hubris if you wish, but taking a massive, hulking god, and throwing he or she to the earth is great fun.
There is certainly an argument to be made about this release potentially creating a slippery slope for rereleases and the end of backwards compatibility in future consoles, but that is a discussion for another time and place and not one whose validity we will test here. The God of War Collection is retailing for $40, which is less than the price of a typical PS3 game and is a whole lot of fun, excitement and utterly brutal, bloody, combat (with the occasional bit of sex thrown in for good measure). If you're a huge fan of the original PS2 releases or simply looking to catch up prior to God of War III, the God of War Collection is a great value and a good time.
God of War Collection is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Nudity, Sexual Themes, and Strong Language.