Review: God of War: Origins Collection

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Today, the complete God of War saga (save for that Betrayal mobile game, but I’m not sure that one counts) is finally together on a single platform, with God of War: Origins Collection, a two-games-on-one-Blu-ray bundle of PSP titles Chains of Olympus and Ghost of Sparta, now joining the God of War Collection (HD remakes of the first two PS2 games) and God of War III on the PS3.

I’ve already reviewed Chains of Olympus and Ghost of Sparta in their original PSP forms, so give those a read as companions to this review. What’s important here is where these titles fit into the God of War chronology and how well they were adapted from portable to console, and that’s what I’ll focus on in this review.

Ready at Dawn’s two PSP chapters in the God of War story fill in gaps between previous titles and also flesh out Kratos’ character in a meaningful way. Chains of Olympus, a prequel piece setting the stage for the entire series, explains with more depth why Kratos is so gosh darn pissed off all the time, and Ghost of Sparta, an interquel between the two PS2 games, digs further down into his back story.

The great thing about these two games is that they matter. When major franchises like this are spread around to different developers and platforms, they are often treated more like standalone spin-offs than canon installments integral to the main narrative arc. Not so in this instance. These games tell important stories that God of War fans will want to catch up on. Kratos isn’t all scowls and growls in these chapters either. As characters such as his daughter, mother and brother are introduced, you get to see rare, fleeting moments of vulnerability from the ornery, ash-skinned Spartan, and a more personal side to his back story that gives you greater reason to root for him on his mythical quest for revenge. Even if he is a total bastard.

In terms of gameplay, God of War veterans and novices alike will feel right at home chopping through mythological beasts and harvesting souls to upgrade Kratos’ weapons and magical powers. You would never guess that these were originally games designed for a portable gaming device, because they look, play and sound exactly the same as the dedicated console iterations. The only tangible change from PSP to PS3 is having the second analog stick back for dodge rolling, which only makes them play that much better.

Chains of Olympus is probably the weakest of the series (that’s not saying it’s bad, though), as the levels and bosses don’t quite reach the epic scale of the other titles, the game clocks in at roughly four hours long, and the remade graphics are merely on par with the HD remastered original. It still looks phenomenal for what it is — a PS3 port of a 2008 PSP game — but it brings up the rear when stacked up against its franchise brethren.

Ghost of Sparta, however, is, in my humble opinion, the top game in the entire series in every facet. The gameplay, a blend of the updated mechanics from God of War III with a few more neat tricks, presents a more even balance between action, platforming, puzzles, and adventure, and the up-rezed graphics, while certainly no match for God of War III, can give quite a few PS3 games a run for their money. You can also expect to squeeze out a solid six to eight hours on your first journey through the campaign, which is on the higher end in a series known for somewhat brief adventures.

The Origins Collection isn’t a blemish free combo pack port, though. There are times in both games — more so in Chains of Olympus — when the action pauses or skips, almost as if still running off of a UMD. These hiccups are infrequent and only last a second or two at the most, but it’s just one of those polish issues that begs the question, why are upscaled PSP games pausing to load on PS3 at all?

It’s also somewhat disappointing that the original bonus videos were left in standard definition, because they look horribly aliased and fuzzy on an HD set. I also don’t get why Sony continues to forget about providing an interface that intuitively bridges the games in collections like this. When you boot the game, a front end menu allows you to choose which of the two games to play. But from there the only way to switch to the other game is by exiting back to the XMB. Would it have been so hard to code in an option to quit back to the main game select screen?

But save for these extremely minor port warts, God of War: Origins Collection is a spectacular compilation of two spectacular games. You get both PSP games with enhanced graphics, all original bonus features (videos, concept art, alternate costumes, challenge modes, etc.), plus the additional replay incentive of trophies and the complete Game Directors Live video, an 80-minute roundtable discussion between the series’ five directors. All told, there’s loads of content and bang-for-your-buck value stuffed into this mighty collection of action adventure awesomeness, and even if you already own them on PSP you’ll want to make the upgrade.

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Pros:
+ Two great God of War games in one
+ Impressive HD graphics upgrade
+ Meaningful stories console God of War fans will love catching up on
+ Game Directors Live video included as bonus feature
+ Full God of War series finally together on one platform

Cons:
– In-game load pauses weren’t ironed out from PSP version
– Low res bonus videos
– No way to exit back to front end game select menu

Affiliate Links:
Buy from Amazon or eStarland

Game Info:
Platform: PS3
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: Ready At Dawn Studios
Release Date: 9/13/2011
Genre: Action/Adventure
ESRB Rating: Mature
Players: 1
Source: Review copy provided by publisher

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About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!