If you skipped over the two PSP God of War games, then redemption is here, and it’s running at sixty frames per second in 1080p. The controls are better (the right analog dodge is a subtle blessing), the action consistently slicker and the visuals are much improved due to better textures, richer models and the odd graphical flair. So, you no longer have any excuse – unless, of course, you foolishly wrote off Chains of Olympus and Ghost of Sparta as inferior side projects that you thought you could safety skip over, regardless of platform.
They’re not, and you were wrong to do so. They might feature some plot aspects that are either shoehorned in or retconned between the main console versions, but they’re absolutely canon, without awkwardness or clumsiness. The first game focuses on Kratos pre-God of War (during his ten year servitude to the Gods) and most closely mirrors the style of the PS2 and PS3 games in terms of scope and pacing, but Ghost fits neatly after the first PS2 game, bookending the Spartan’s first outing and massively enriching his story while providing a more personable adventure.[drop]They are, of course, both action packed third person adventures that, whilst always impressed on the PlayStation Portable, match up to the two PlayStation 2 games rather well now they’ve been given a lovely HD shine. You can get away with a lot on the small screen, but Ready at Dawn cut no corners with this particular duo in the first place meaning that the process of porting them to PS3 didn’t involve filling in too many gaps. Sure, you can tell where the polygon count was boosted and which art assets were redrawn but that’s hardly criticism, more a testament to the original versions.
If you disregard some obvious technical limitations of the PSP then, such as fewer on-screen enemies, dialled down super-sized enemies and a somewhat shorter playthrough time, they look remarkably impressive on PS3. Easily on par with the graphics in the last God of War Collection and in some cases unequivocally richer, the developers have done a great job in translating the pair to the big screen. The high definition resolution is superb, the buttery smooth framerate most welcome and the addition of 3D (which is great, despite dropping to 30fps) gives the games a fresh lease of life.
If you haven’t played through them then you’re in for something of a treat. The basic core mechanics remain the same as any other God of War game, with the player taking on the character of Kratos as he battles kings, Gods and titans taken from classical Greek mythology, starting off with basic weapons and gradually gaining ever more deadly items, magic and special abilities normally procured from downed foes. Standard combat comes in light and heavy attack variants, block is via the left trigger and the right one acts a modifier and the d-pad is used for magic.
It’s all familiar territory for anyone who’s already picked up a DualShock to control Kratos, the only real difference from the PSP version being the aforementioned right stick dodge – although there’s a few moves exclusive to these games along with a handful of new abilities and magical weapons. The locations are hardly alien too, with various temples popping into play amidst the now standard trips into the Underworld, the Stix and, of course, Olympus. The second game is the one that pushes the envelope most strongly here, with some clever flashback exposition in Kratos’ home city of Sparta.[drop2]We won’t spoil the stories, though, suffice to say that if you wanted to know more about Kratos, his family and his reasons for being who he is in the console games, you’ll find plenty of backstory and character development here – and some of it might surprise you too. The games rattle on, but there are key segments that slow down the pace a little and pour in the dialogue, and it all helps create an atmosphere and purpose that perhaps God of War III seemed to skip over. The second game is easily the best of the two, and I’m of the opinion that it’s actually the best in the series so far…
- The graphical refresh is a real delight.
- These are two utterly brilliant games.
- It can be pre-ordered for around £25.
- PSP owners will have already seen all there is to see.
The God of War Collection 2 is one of the best HD updates we’ve seen since the trend of updating past games for current machines kicked off. Of course, it doesn’t help that they’re both relatively new titles anyway, with Ghost only releasing last year, but you can’t say that Ready At Dawn could have done anything else with the them – the visual update alone (not to mention the Trophies) should be enough to convince PSP owners to get their wallets out, and everyone else that’s a fan of the games need feel guilty no longer – you won’t be disappointed.