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Review – God of War: Origins Collection

Two PSP classics get remastered in HD for PS3. How does the collection stack up?

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There’s probably a very good chance that you never played God of War: Chains of Olympus or God of War: Ghost of Sparta since both titles have been exclusive to the PlayStation Portable since their release. So, in order to enjoy these games you had to fire up that horribly uncomfortable handheld (banking on the fact that you own one) and push through the pain to enjoy the creamy goodness awaiting within.

Thankfully, that’s no longer necessary. Sony has realized that two gems such as these should not go unnoticed, played only by the niche audience that haven’t yet turned their PSPs into glorified doorstops. Better yet, Sony and Ready at Dawn Studios have put both games on a single blu-ray for use in a PlayStation 3, while also making sure to spruce up the graphics to high definition quality. But the true cherry on the top is that this dual pack only costs $40. Honestly, what isn’t to like about that?

Short answer: nothing.

In a nutshell, the God of War: Origins Collection, as Sony’s labeling it, is a great purchase for those who never got a chance to experience either of these games on the PSP. That’s the camp I fall into. Having now played both titles via this new remaster re-release, I can tell you that both Ready at Dawn-developed God of War games stand up next to the work of Sony Santa Monica’s God of War trilogy. Chains of Olympus and Ghost of Sparta bring the epic set pieces, fantastic environments, mildly challenging puzzles and addictive combat we’ve come to expect from the God of War series. These two titles fit right in without sacrificing anything during the transition from PSP to full-blown PS3 titles.

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For the most part, both Chains of Olympus and Ghost of Sparta look better than the remastered versions of God of War 1 and 2 that released as part of the God of War Collection in late 2009. While there are some models that lack definition and characters that sport hands made out of bricks, the overall graphical presentation of both games is damn impressive work.

Ready at Dawn obviously built these games to be graphical stunners on the PSP, but who knew they would hold up so well when blown up to television size (the high definition spit shine obviously helped here). Now you can finally soak up the minute details Ready at Dawn pumped into the game’s environments and central characters, such as Kratos’ washerboard abs. While these games obviously don’t reach the level of graphical superiority seen in God of War III, they do still manage to visually please. You’d be crazy to complain about what is being offered here from a graphical standpoint, considering these are PSP titles at their core.

But graphics aren’t everything in a God of War game. The real breadwinner and what’s kept us coming back sequel after sequel is this franchise’s silky smooth gameplay. When it comes to close-quarters combat, no franchise does it as well as the God of War series. And Ready at Dawn gets it. I haven’t touched a God of War game since God of War III launched in early 2010, but it felt like slipping back into a comfortable pair of shoes with the Origins Collection. Every blade swipe and dodge felt exactly how I remember them. I’m truthfully not sure if Ready at Dawn touched up the controls to optimize them for the PS3 controller during the porting process or not, but whatever they did (or didn’t do) worked. God of War diehards will feel right at home with the controls in both Chains of Olympus and Ghost of Sparta.

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The God of War: Origins Collection is really only hampered by the few technical issues that crop up from time to time. Occasionally, the game will just stop to load in the middle of actions (this happens more in Chains of Olympus than Ghost of Sparta), and the transitions from gameplay to cutscene could be a lot smoother. I also ran into a few glitches where Kratos just stopped fighting and sat there, enemies circling around him like buzzards. And while I’m airing my grievances, why weren’t the cutscenes given the HD treatment? The same oversight was blatantly obvious in the original God of War Collection, and I know it got a lot of flak for it. Would it really have been that hard to fix that this time around?

Outside my few gripes, it should be clear that I recommend the God of War: Origins Collection to those who haven’t played these two games on the PSP. It’s really a no-brainer if you consider yourself a God of War fan. But now the question is if people should pick up the Origins Collection if they already own the games on PSP. I think the answer to that lies in how much you want to replay these games on a television from the comfort of your couch. If the answer to that is “yes,” then go buy the Origins Collection. Case closed. But if you don’t really care about that and are perfectly content with pulling out the ol’ dusty PSP to relive the adventures, then the Origins Collection doesn’t really offer anything new, outside trophy support. So consider yourself warned. But there’s no denying that Kratos is back on the PS3 with a vengeance.