Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Pocket Review - God of War Collection

For anyone who has yet to partake in the adventures of Kratos, Sony's God of War Collection offers the first two games in one neat package. God of War I & II were both originally PlayStation 2 games and were bundled together and re-released as one of the early HD remasters in 2009 on the PlayStation 3. Five years later, that bundle is also available on Vita, and its age definitely shows.

The original God of War might look a little better in this format than it did back in 2005, but it sure doesn't play any better. With today's advancements in gameplay and controls, this half of the pair feels so out of date that it's a chore to play. Smashing hoards of enemies can be satisfying, but the tight rope walking sections and awful checkpoints just don't work these days. Getting to the good parts of this one just isn't worth suffering through the bad sections.

Jumping into God of War II, it's immediately clear just how far Sony Santa Monica improved things between 2005 and 2007. The sequel feels much more solid with faster pacing, more responsive controls, and better level design. Just like in the prior game, hack and slashing foes is always a blast, and tearing apart massive enemies is even better. God of War II offers plenty of that and is actually enjoyable in the process.

Vita-specific content is minimal here, mostly limited to holding the back touch panel to open chests or interact with objects. I'm not sure if the developers felt like they needed to add touch screen support, but that one aspect is not very responsive and would have worked better assigned to a button instead. Other than that, the QTEs that God of War has become known for are still the same old button mashers they've always been. These are the same exact games from the mid-2000s after all.

I don't want to turn this into a diatribe against HD remasters, but I have to say that I'm finding myself questioning if these are not doing more harm than good. While being able to replay older games is a great thing, these titles specifically are showing their age and offer very few benefits by being remastered, especially on Vita. The cutscenes look blurry and distorted, the controls are mostly unchanged from the originals, and neither game offers any new content. I imagine that the effort and cost required to port this PS3 collection to Vita was small enough to be worth it for Sony, but I can't help but wish we'd gotten another original game instead. The God of War Collection just feels lazy, and is hard to recommend unless you are just dying to play an older PS2 game prettied up on Vita. And even then, only God of War II is worth it.

Recommended? Maybe, if you are dying to try the series, but only for God of War II.
Enjoyed By? God of War or action game fans looking for a nostalgic experience.

This game was played on Vita via a PSN code supplied by the publisher.

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