God is (not) dead
Over the years, Sony’s reissued a number of PSP games on the PS3. But while they usually do a good job with it, they’ve outdone themselves with God of War: Origins Collection, which includes 2008’s God of War: Chains of Olympus and 2010’s God of War: Ghost of Sparta.
As you’d expect, Origins presents exact replicas of those original PSP games, with the graphics upscaled to high-definition. But the word “upgraded” is actually more apt, since both games look really, really nice, even on a big TV. It’s actually rather impressive, with the difference in visual fidelity between them and their PSP counterparts being noticeably better than any previous PSP-to-PS3 conversions.
But it’s the other changes that make Origins into what I hope will be a template for such reissues going forward. The biggest of these is the controls, as Origins takes advantage of the PS3’s second thumbstick. Granted, all it does is use that stick the way it’s been used in the home-console games—to dodge—and the original controls worked really well to begin with, but it really makes a big difference in how well the game plays. So much so, in fact, that you might not realize that these games use the now-dated fixed-camera approach until you sit down to write a 693-word review of the game.
The collection also includes the Legionnaire Kratos costume and Forest of the Forgotten Challenge Arena that were preorder bonuses for Sparta, support for stereoscopic 3D and Trophies, and a video called God of War: Game Director’s Live that presents an interesting roundtable about the series.
So, it’s clear that even if you enjoyed both Chains and Sparta on the PSP, you should seriously consider replaying them in Origins. But if you’ve never owned or borrowed a PSP, and thus never played them…then things are slightly trickier.
For the most part, these play like classic God of War games. You’re still Kratos, you still have your Blades of Chaos and other cool weapons, you still slice up gods and monsters from Greek mythology using a mix of button mashing and simple combos, still do some climbing and jumping to get to the next fight, and still have to complete some quick-time moves to finish off bosses and other big enemies. You also have some new weapons to use against new enemies, while the stories fill in the times before the first game, when Kratos was in service to the gods (Chains), and between the first and second games (Sparta).
Oh, and you get to make sweet, sweet love to some fine ladies…which also requires you to complete some quicktime moves.
The big difference between these games and the numerical Gods is that they mostly eschew the puzzles that make up a small-but-distinctive part of the experience. You still have to occasionally figure out how to open a door, but there’s nothing all that elaborate, with the answer usually becoming readily apparent through the exploring you’d do anyway.
This is where these games could be divisive. If you like the puzzling aspect of the God games, then Chains and Sparta might seem like dumbed down versions of better Gods. But if, like me, you’ve often felt the puzzles in the console games didn’t always fit what was going on, and feel like puzzles as opposed to puzzling situations, you’ll enjoy the simplicity. Or, to put it another way, there’s nothing like the musical bit that was the lowlight of the otherwise impressive God of War III. Chains and Sparta do include puzzles, but they’re fewer and far between, and they also fit the narrative and the situation. As a result, both games are decidedly more action-oriented—relatively speaking, of course—but also more cohesive.
This is really just a minor quibble, though. In the end, if you’ve enjoyed any God game, you’ll like the two in Origins, as both Chains and Sparta have the same great action as their bigger brothers. The only question is whether the lack of not-always-fitting puzzles will have you loving it slightly more than God of Wars I through III or less.
Summary: Though both games were originally released on the PSP, their visuals have been updated to HD, which makes they look almost as good as God of War III.
- THE GOOD: Presents improved re-creations of two great PSP games
- THE BAD: Some might miss the puzzles. Or not
- THE UGLY: Kratos is still a dick