God of War Collection (PS3, Vita) Review

The Short


Pros

– Two excellent action games together at last in HD and at a cheap price

– Both games look absolutely fantastic in HD and wide-screened

– Added trophy support for each game

– All the bonus content (interviews, etc.) is still here

– Started the “HD Re-Release” trend, for better or for worse

Cons

– In-game pre-rendered video as well as the bonus content is still SD

– No attempt to fix the polygonal sprites from the original God of War make a few look a little silly

– If you were already playing this with component cables on your PS2 + HDTV, it isn’t that much better

– Might be some secret ploy to mooch money off you after taking backwards compatibility out of the PS3. Or maybe not. I dunno.

– Vita version suffers from a bad framerate and some equally bad graphic translations

Pick your poison.

The Long

It’s pretty much common knowledge that I really enjoy the God of War games. Released at the end of the PS2’s lifespan, they were a culmination of all the great advancements in action games we’d seen over that console’s generation. Unfortunately, shortly after releasing the PS3, Sony axed all PS2 backwards compatibility from the system, which meant you couldn’t play these game anymore on the most modern system.

Well, don’t fret your little head, because Sony’s got you covered. Released as a budget title, God of War Collection is the first two numbered games in the series re-released on one Blu-Ray disc for your playing pleasure. You already know I like these games, and if you want a more detailed lowdown on them read my other review (for God of War and God of War II, respectively). So how well do these games hold up after doing a generation switch? And is the “upgrade” worth picking up if you still own the original games?

These games looked great before. Now they look extra-great.

The first thing you’ll probably want to know is the biggest thing: how do the HD visuals look? And, not surprisingly, they look quite fantastic. Both God of War and God of War II had the benefit of being released near the end of the console’s life, and as such already looked pretty incredible on their original system. Textures were detailed, models had high poly counts (especially in II), and thus the transition is very smooth. God of War sees a marked improvement, though bumping some of the less-good models up to HD reveals their flaws more, which is unfortunate. God of War II, however, was so damn good looking to begin with this HD upgrade just launches it into “absurd” territory. These up-rezed PS2 games look just as good as launch titles for this generation of games, no lie, and considering they still play so smooth and with such incredible setpieces, the improved graphics just serve as a means to further bedazzle.

The one major downside is the pre-rendered CGI movies. These were premade, and thus couldn’t be given the HD treatment. As such they look…well, pretty awful, especially the God of War ones. There’s a distinct visual clash of quality between the movies and the in-game stuff, and what was once a smooth transition is now a bit jarring (much like the Silent Hill HD Collection). This is also prevalent in the bonus video footage (all of which is here, which is awesome): it’s all in SD quality. Not the worst thing in the world, but noticeable.

Aim for the head!

All the gameplay is kept intact, down to the last detail. These are still high-octane action games with over-the-top brutality and violence. As stated, the improved graphics only make the more epic moments all the more…epic (I hate using that word), and increase the whole grandiose feel of the experience. The combat still holds up to this day and, while the hades spires still totally suck, at least you can better see what you are doing during the not as well designed portions of the games.

There are a few other nice bonuses here, aside from the convenience of getting it on one disc for a cheap price. Trophies are included, a separate set for both games which, if you are the kind of person who likes achieving stuff, is a welcome addition. Both games are also launched individually, which is a bit of a pain but still works well enough I suppose. God of War is still limited to four saves, however, despite the PS3’s change in its save system, which is a bit lame.

These things still suck.

What’s great about video games is, unlike a lot of mediums, you could argue they never really get out of style. They just sort of age gracefully, which is why people are still buying old retro games and re-buying said games from Nintendo to this day. The God of War Collection is a mix of two of the finest action games crafted, compounded for you in a discounted package with ramped-up graphics as a bonus. If you have any interest in action games and own a PS3, this should pretty much be a no-brainer. Considering you can grab it from anywhere between $10-$20 (which is $5-$10 a game, which is an absolute steal), even if you just want to give it a run and see if you like it that’s still in your price range.

But what if you own a PS2 still and the original discs? Is it worth an upgrade? Well, I will admit that when comparing the HD re-release with my progressive scan component cabled PS2, the improvement was less dramatic. However, if you do own a PS3, I’d say it’s still worth getting. The improved graphics are nice, but having them both on one disc is just convenient, not to mention all the bonus footage in one place and the added trophy support. It isn’t necessary, but then again neither are video games in general, technically. So I’d still recommend it (heck, I own both games in PS2 form, and I still bought it).

Seeing as I gave both the games in this collection four out of five stars, it seems appropriate that this compilation receives the same scores. No HD remake can fix the downward disaster that was God of War II‘s story, but luckily another company did. But that’ll wait for another God of War Collection review.

Final note: I didn’t talk much about it, but the Vita port of this game is actually pretty poor. Despite being somewhere in power between a PS2 and a PS3, the Vita can’t even keep a solid 30 FPS during most of the combat, which is disappointing. While not the worst port ever, the Vita version also looks somehow worse at points than the PS2 version, and that coupled with the sloppy framerate makes it a very hard sell. The game is still completely playable, but considering there are better systems to play this game on I’d suggest avoiding it if at all possible. For the Vita, two out of five stars, unfortunately.

You still kill the Hyrda in the first five minutes of the game. Spoiler?

Author: Nathan Major

Spirit Shark: Hammerhead. Retro game collector, true ginger, and SNES fanatic. Goal in life is to become Karnov from the NES game Karnov.

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