I’ve spoken before on how shallow and brainless I think the God of War series to be, and I’d still much rather play something like Bayonetta, but I like them enough to justify £25 for both of them redone in high definition. Given that the first one managed to impress even after the 360 and PS3’s releases, I was keen to see how they held up with a spit and polish, and the answer is pretty damn well.
They’re not going to fool anyone into thinking that they’re new releases or anything, and some of the perspective tricks are shown up in HD like ropey special effects on a Blu-ray movie, but a few added pixels, some v-sync and a mostly locked 60fps – I’ve seen drops in areas with lots of particle effects, like the first game’s Desert of Lost Souls – do them a world of good. The spell is broken somewhat when you see Athenian soldiers who look like troop models from a 1998 RTS and the unchanged FMV looks horrific – rendered from the PS2 engine for standard definition and badly compressed to boot – but this is a retro compilation at the end of the day. I’m not going to dock a retro compilation point for not looking completely shiny and new.
I’m disappointed that the remastering on both of them couldn’t have extended to proper surround sound, though, with only PS2-era Dolby Pro Logic II present and some glitches in that to boot. Remixing the whole thing might have been a lot to ask, but Sony’s been excellent this generation in terms of pushing next-generation sound as hard as visuals and I think it would have made a world of difference.
Given the PS3’s current situation surrounding backwards compatibility, maybe this is testing the water for the approach to come. I’d have no problem rebuying some of my favourite PS2 titles given this kind of treatment.
The obvious one to ask for and one that’s probably likely is a Team Ico compilation in advance of The Last Guardian, but I could reel off a list of PS2 favourites that would be excellent candidates for this kind of treatment: Kingdom Hearts, Silent Hill, Devil May Cry, Final Fantasy… Stick them on a disc or release them individually as à la carte downloads from PSN. Hell, why limit this idea to the PlayStation? Splinter Cell and Hitman both have sequels in the works and I’d relish the opportunity to play through the earlier iterations again. If universal backwards compatibility isn’t possible, this is the next best thing and has plenty of benefits of its own.
The God of War games remain a bit of a guilty pleasure for me, and this is definitely the way to play them. They’re two of the best action games of the last decade and the low price for them looking and playing this smoothly is a steal.
The screenshot in this post was borrowed from Bitmob’s comparison feature here.