God of War Collection Impressions

Prior to purchasing God of War Collection, I’ve never played a God of War game before. For years, I’ve heard great things about the series, but haven’t had a system to play them on. Now that I have a PlayStation 3, I figured that now would be a good time to see what the hype is about. A few weeks ago, my girlfriend gave this game her seal of approval, and I recently spent a few hours playing through the first God of War.

God of War Collection is a compilation featuring up-res ports of God of War 1 and 2. The in-game graphics look great, even though they’re not quite up to par with today’s standards. The frame-rate is rock solid and there’s no screen-tearing to speak of, which I heard was a big problem with God of War 2 on the PlayStation 2.

However, not everything got polished for this release. The cut-scenes have been left untouched, which really hurts the presentation of this game. It’s so jarring to have the screen transition from sharp HD graphics to grainy, muddy and low-res cut-scenes. It’s by no means a deal-breaker, but the dramatic differences in quality make it feel like they skimped out on this package.

Having never played a God of War game before, I was pleasantly surprised by God of War 1’s awesomeness. Similar games such as Devil May Cry haven’t done anything for me in the past, but this one just feels ‘right’. The combat is satisfying and easy to learn, with some depth to spare through extra moves should you choose to learn them. Regardless of how you approach the combat, the game always gives you a strong sense of empowerment.

I’m normally not a fan of quick time events, but they’re used very effectively in this game. The only time I’ve had problems with them are when the game requires me to hit a long sequence of buttons in quick succession because I’m still not familiar with the PlayStation controller.

For a game that’s so combat-focused, I wasn’t expecting much in terms of narrative, but all of the story elements of the game work really well here. I’m about 3/4 of the way through the first God of War and everything I’ve seen has been great. The over-arching story is good, the dialogue is good and I love how closely the story is tied to what you’re doing in the game. It doesn’t feel like I’m just moving from room to room, beating up enemies. I really feel like I’m trying to save Athens from falling to Ares.

The pacing between action and puzzle-solving is well done, too. Only a few puzzles have stumped me so far, but a quick peek at a FAQ only confirms that I’m not very smart. The majority of puzzles involves flipping switches or moving large objects, which in itself isn’t that interesting. However, they do enough to break up the action sequences. My only gripe with the puzzles is that some of the puzzles take a really long time to solve. For instance, there was one sequence where I couldn’t cross a bridge. I required a certain power-up to get it, but I had traveled for so far and so long to get that power-up that I had completely forgotten where I needed to go or why I needed this power-up in the first place.

I may be years late to the party, but I’m glad to be making up for lost time. 3/4 of the way through the first game and I think it’s fantastic. I’m not sure there’s enough in this package to justify another go-around if you’ve already played these games, but for newbies like me, this is definitely worth a look.

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