Awhile back, I needed a new controller and I noticed the God of War collection bundle was only $5 more so I figured "Why not?" I had thoroughly enjoyed the first God of War game years ago on my Playstation 2, but for whatever reason had never gotten around to playing any of the others. When I picked this bundle pack up, I decided to pick up the PSP game I reviewed a few days ago too. While God of War: Chains of Olympus came first from a storyline standpoint, these two titles were the first in the series in terms of when they were produced.
The games are a combination of combat, puzzle-solving and platforming on a bloody quest for Kratos to find vengeance. What does this package have that the originals didn't? Well, it got a nice HD gloss over visually and added PS3 trophies. Question is - how do the games hold up today?
Graphics - 7:
The HD improvements do indeed help, but the fact is the textures and movements are all the same as they were years ago. That's not a bad thing - I remember when the first God of War game came out. The sense of scale, the use of background animations and the visceral, vicious combat. The second game looks better than the first, but both show hints of their original age throughout.
Sound & Music - 9:
The voice acting is good, the sound effects are good, and the music is great. There's a lot of music that's reused from one game to another, or modified - but all in all this is one of the stronger aspects of the entire series. This aged far better than the graphics in my opinion. In one part, where you are in a desert in the first game, you have to rely on sound to find one of the three sirens in the sandstorm. A great use of sound where it is actually used as a part of the gameplay and not simply an effect.
Gameplay - 8:
So many games have tried to immitate the combat found in God of War. Castlevania: Lord of Shadows, Dante's Inferno and Heavenly Sword immediately come to mind. There is a real weight and flow to the way Kratos and his chained blades move on the screen and tear through enemies. The combat of God of War is still more satisfying tome than the above mentioned games, despite its age.
Some of the puzzles did not fare quite so well. The first game in particular was a bit frustrating in places and you get the feeling that over time, the studio has refined their mechanics. Sometimes the puzzles are just incredibly easy and require no effort at all, and others you're left scratching your head looking for some obscure hole in the wall you can only find from one specific angle or a lever hidden behind something that is perfectly blended with the rest of the environment. Also, I found myself frustrated with several of the platforming parts - a frustration I don't recall from playing the first game years ago.
Intangibles - 8:
No online, which is fine. There's costumes, trials, different difficulty modes - so the developers try to give you reasons to replay the game. The trophies were a nice touch as well. The way you level equipment and skills keeps you feeling like Kratos is continually evolving, which helps to keep you invested as well. There's also some developer videos and behind the scenes stuff for people who are interested in how this series was put together.
Overall - 8:
I got the disc for $5 - I can't complain. I've seen it used for about 12-18 dollars at several places as well. The core gameplay mechanics have always been solid, and they aged well. Some of the puzzles and platforming could have been better, and the game itself is very linear with a single ending to each one so replay value is a bit limited as well. If you're interested in these types of games though, then they are definitely worth the investment - just keep them away from your kids. Watch out for violence, language, nudity, sexual situations (there's a sex mini-game where you don't actually see sex, but let's face it - there's not a ton left to the imagination so my kids don't get to be anywhere near these titles).