question, the two God of War games released on PSP are among the very best titles
ever to appear on the handheld. That’s not just according to us, either; God of
War: Chains of Olympus still stands as the highest-rated PSP game of all time
and while Ghost of Sparta was almost certainly hurt by its release less than a
year after God of War III, its 86 Metascore is still nothing to sneeze at. So
it’s kind of a foregone conclusion that the God of War Origins Collection is
something worth playing, whether you never got around to the games on PSP or
just want to play through them again in their definitive form.
surprised us about it was just how much
it’s worth playing. Certainly, the graphical boost both games get from the conversion
to PS3 is nice, although it’s much nicer in Ghost of Sparta, which looks almost
as good as a first-gen PS3 game (Chains of Olympus, by contrast, still sports
some noticeably blurry-looking textures, and both games feature relatively
low-res video cutscenes). And the addition of Trophies is definitely a big
incentive for those who care about collecting them.
The real draw
here, however, is how much better the games feel when played with a more
comfortable DualShock. Losing the tiny buttons, analog nub and overall rigidity
of the handheld removes a tiny layer of irritation between player and game,
enabling us to focus more closely on the action (although seeing it on a much
bigger screen might have something to do with that as well). Also, having a
second analog stick means no more holding down the shoulder buttons to dodge
incoming attacks (although that still works, if you’re somehow more comfortable
never played Chains of Olympus or Ghost of Sparta in the first place, though, all
those little improvements will be a secondary concern. So, to reiterate, Chains
of Olympus and Ghost of Sparta are excellent games, not just by PSP standards,
but by the standards set by God of War as a series. Kratos is every bit as
angry and violent in these two games as he is in their console cousins, and the
hack-and-slash gameplay is just as deep, balletic and satisfying.
Of the two,
however, Chains of Olympus ends up feeling like the weaker entry (and,
therefore, is the one you should play first). A prequel set before the events
of the first God of War, it follows Kratos on a roughly six-hour quest to free
sun-god Helios from the depths of Hades, thereby restoring light to the world
and giving him ample opportunities to eviscerate mythical Greek monsters along
is still impressive for an upscaled PSP game, although its slightly chunky
graphics and fuzzy textures never make it look like anything else. So it’s a
good thing that the button-mashy, combo-driven gameplay still holds up pretty
well (especially once you’ve earned the hulking, enemy-bashing Gauntlet of
Zeus), even if the frequent quick time events feel a little antiquated and intrusive.
The story’s fantastic as well, and still delivers one of the series’ most
heartrending emotional moments near its end.
Sparta, meanwhile, looks fantastic and plays even better. Now that we’re a bit
further out from God of War III, Ghost’s gameplay – which incorporated a few
key ideas from GoWIII, while introducing several of its own – is easier to
appreciate on its own merits, and feels more dynamic and interesting than it
did eight months after its PS3 predecessor’s release.
It also feels
a lot more interesting after playing through Chains. An interquel set between
God of War and God of War II, it ramps up the sense of scale – a prolonged,
multi-part battle with the gargantuan sea-monster Scylla takes up a sizable
chunk of its nearly eight-hour runtime, for example – and feels a little truer
to Kratos’ destructive character. Here, he’s not trying to save the world or
perform errands for the gods – he’s just in it for himself. And during his destructive
quest to find his brother Deimos (who was kidnapped as a child by the gods), he’ll
callously do things that amount to genocide, simply because he can’t be
bothered to give a shit.
noting, also, that while we’ve made sure to point out each game’s runtime, they
both have a bit more longevity than that, thanks to bonus challenge modes, lots
of unlockable extras and (in Ghost’s case) a combat arena in which players can
fend off customizable waves of monsters. Taken together, the games make for a slick,
compelling package that offers a much more attractive way to play two important
chapters of the God of War series.
Aug 29, 2011