God of War is back, and once again is the leader of trends with the first ever jump from PSP to PS3 in the form of the God of War: Origins Collection. This avant-garde package includes both God of War: Chains of Olympus and God of War: Ghost of Sparta on one Blu-ray, along with some extraordinary new additions to make this one of the most compelling HD collections in history. It sounds great, but are the gods pleased?
The two titles bundled into God of War: Origins Collection are regarded as a couple of the best games in the PSP’s history, and the conversion to console has been seamless. Gameplay in both games is as fluid as we’ve become accustomed to with the series; parrying attacks, counterattacking, and striking down foes before dismembering them in QTE’s is thoroughly satisfying and never seems to get old. One of the most noticeable improvements made comes straight from the fact that these two titles are now on a console: the DualShock controller. A second analog stick makes dodging much easier, intense moments are more manageable since you won’t be squeezing your PSP, and vibration puts the exclamation point on each of the collection’s many exciting moments.
In case you’re new to the series, God of War is like a Greek version of Indiana Jones, as it’s brimming full of adventure, puzzles, a great dash of history, and some truly epic moments. There’s a very genuine quality to God of War that makes it captivating, one of which is its strong presence of Greek history, and this collection is no different. You can expect to see gorgons, ogres, titans, gods, and more famous entities, and their presence in HD makes it all the better. Another important element to God of War are the boss battles which are consistently executed in glorious fashion. By comparison, both of the included games feature fewer bosses than the console iterations, but don’t be discouraged, a couple of the bosses found herein stand confidently among the best that the series has to offer.
Both Chains of Olympus and Ghost of Sparta are extremely true to the formula, so you can expect to see a handful of weapons, magic attacks, treasure chests, large set-pieces, and plenty of enemies based on Ancient Greek literature. While Chains of Olympus plays most similarly to the original title, Ghost of Sparta has some tricks up its sleeve with “parkour” style platforming that plays a prominent role in the experience, and several extravagant moments that make the game feel like much more of a PS3 title than its PSP heritage. A few of the new locales are great additions to the series, such as Atlantis, and there are some differences in pacing and execution that make both titles easily identifiable. While there’s nothing surprising about either of these releases, both are phenomenal experiences that offer plenty of intriguing back-story for fans, and memorable moments for everyone.
As you might suspect, both games use the static camera that we’ve become accustomed to with God of War, and while it can be helpful in directing you and providing gorgeous viewpoints, it can be prohibitive in combat situations. Enemies will frequently move out of view, and it’ll be near impossible to read when to dodge or parry in these circumstances. In addition, gameplay can be spotty at times, with minor animation hiccups, and Chains of Olympus has some minor load times between cutscenes. While these issues can prove problematic, they are a small blemish in the grand scheme of things.
Both games have been rendered wonderfully in high-definition. While Chains of Olympus is impressive, especially when considering it’s several years old and a handheld title, Ghost of Sparta is downright remarkable and looks better than some of the lower tier PS3 games out there. Lighting and shadow improvements are noticeable, and the fidelity is almost unbelievable. The collection’s presentation is adequate, and choosing which game to play is done at the initial start menu. Due to the nature of the series, the jump to HD not only makes sense, but improves the experience. The jaw-dropping moments of being the average-height Kratos in enormous environments has truly come to life on the television.
The audio in both games has been beefed up to support Dolby 5.1 surround sound, and execution has been done wonderfully. The soundtrack is thunderous, and while it’s very reminiscent of previous titles, that’s a good thing. Voice overs by the main characters involved are great, albeit a little awkward from time to time. Most of all, the ambient effects and feedback are powerful, further amplifying the epic narrative.
The God of War: Origins Collection has some special additions on top of the mountains of media, challenges, collectibles, and costumes found within each title. First of all, trophies are here, and each title has a platinum to unlock, meaning that for less than the price of a PS3 title you get twice as many trophies to obtain. Secondly, 3D support has made its way to the God of War franchise for its first time, and it adds further mass to an already gargantuan experience. Lastly, the pre-order DLC for Ghost of Sparta has been included such as a cool Legionnaire costume that grants double orbs during gameplay, and an additional movie. However, the one thing that is most impressive is Ghost of Sparta‘s Combat Arena and Temple of Zeus extras. Combat Arena allows you to create your own combat scenario with tons of options ranging from locale to enemy count. Temple of Zeus serves as a hub for spending extra currency at the end of the game, and more than a dozen unlockables are available. Since each of these titles are only about five to seven hours in length depending on which difficulty you choose, these extras are a great way of facilitating replay value.
For less than the price of a single game, God of War: Origins Collection offers two expertly crafted titles on one Blu-ray. The transition to console has been nothing short of impressive, with each game not only looking but playing better than its handheld counterpart. While each game suffers from the static camera issues, and don’t do much in the way of innovation, the proven God of War formula shines through with its fluid combat, epic experience that is second to none, and outstanding adaptation of Ancient Greek mythology. As with the God of War: Collection that came before it, the God of War: Origins Collection is a successful remaster that is sure to inspire other developers to convert their special PSP titles to the PS3 so even more consumers can enjoy some of the platform’s greatest offerings in HD.
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
+ Addition of 3D support, two platinum trophies, and DLC included.
– Camera issues and small separation from previous releases.