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Sunday, January 15, 2012

God of War: Collection (9.7/10)

Due to the current renaissance of gaming classics being re-released on modern consoles, we have been given a wonderful opportunity to relive some of gaming's greatest moments. For me personally, no series epitomizes this more so than the God of War games, now available again for the first time on PS3 in the God of War: Collection. You get the first two games in one handy HD package. For those of you who haven't played these extraordinary games this is your chance to go back and see how it all began for Kratos. For those of you who have... well, here's your opportunity to replay two of the all time greats!

The tale of Kratos and his quest for vengeance against the gods who wronged him is truly legendary, but it's also a fairly well woven story. Fans of Greek mythology will love the constant references, especially some of the clever re-imaginings of ancient beasts and deities. A misguided warrior, a man of legend, sells his soul to the god of war to grant him favor in battle... but as is always the case, he gets more than he bargains for. From his initial trek to take down the original god of war Ares and obtain the Blades of Chaos, to his introduction to the titans and their immortal struggle against the gods on Olympus, Kratos maintains an aura of a complete sociopath. His rage is unquenchable and no one, be they man or god, will stand in his path. I'm not gonna bother breaking down each game individually as far as the stories go (again, if you haven't played these by now....), but these are rare titles where the story serves to move the game along rather than simply providing a vehicle for the ultra-violence that the series is famous for.

And that, in a nutshell, is why we are all here. Kratos is the definition of bad ass. The game plays from a third person action perspective. Using a mix of light and heavy attacks with a small group of well crafted and useful weapons, Kratos slices and dices his way through Greek gods and mythical beasts like a fat couple at Old Country Buffet. Combine his physical prowess with upgradable magic, and he becomes truly formidable.

Of course, you'll need all that when you are up against the gods of Olympus, the armies of Hades, and the massive titans themselves. You collect red orbs from fallen foes and chests to upgrade your arsenal. There are also well hidden gorgon eyes and phoenix feathers that upgrade Kratos' health and magic respectively. Finding all the hidden goodies are fun, but what keeps the game moving is its wonderful pacing. Small arena battles are mixed in with mini-boss fights, sections of platforming and exploration, and of course, puzzles. Without preamble, I can say that one of my favorite moments in my gaming career comes from the first God of War and the Cronos Temple. Layers upon layers of clever and challenging puzzles unlock the deepest recesses of the massive structure. But it's the sense of scale you get from climbing all over a temple on the back of a titan that was so eye opening for me... I'd never seen anything like it.

Now, if you've read my review of God of War III, you know that quick-time events are an integral part of the gameplay. It can be argued that QTE's really came into prominence because of this series. It's true that some people really hate these button press sequences, but frankly the haven't bothered me... too much. They can be frustrating at times when you don't get it right on the first try, but when you do get the sequence right the graphical interludes are totally worth it! Watching Kratos impale the Hydra never gets old, and that's nothing compared to some of the puzzles!

To be honest, I think that the only thing holding this collection back is the fact that it's impossible not to compare them to God of War 3. It's difficult to look back over what was admittedly one of the best games to come from the last generation of consoles when it's bigger, shinier brother is stealing all the limelight. Just because it doesn't look as nice as it's modern counterpart shouldn't be of concern. However, the original God of War is one of those games that was just plain ground breaking. At the time, it's graphics were virtually unparalleled (especially the cutscenes). Sure, the dialogue is stilted at its best, but the sound track and effects are top notch.

I know I'm not really saying anything here that hasn't already been said, so I thought I'd try to break down my score mathematically. God of War III was the only game that I had given a perfect "10/10" to... however, I changed that after too many people bitched about how perfect scores were supposedly unattainable. As a result, I altered my scoring system to tenths (hence the fact that GoW3 gets a 9.9/10). As for the originals, while both games are brilliant, I think the edge definitely goes to the original God of War, simply because it was the first. I'd give God of War a 9.8/10. So many of the mechanics from that game have found their way into a plethora of other games in multiple genres, becoming commonplace. God of War II, while awesome in its own special ways, doesn't have the innovation of the first nor the detail and graphical quality of the third. As a result, I'd score it the worst of the three, although still awarding it an impressive 9.6/10. Average those two scores and you get 9.7/10. But all in all, this series shouldn't be missed if you are a fan of action games. In my opinion, there are very few titles that can compare, and there are few moments in gaming that can compare to Kratos taking up the mantle of the God of War.


Score = 9.7 / 10

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