Tag Archives: God of War

God of War Collection

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.

PSP: Console of 2008 so far?

Sony’s having a funny old generation. The PS3 has gone from being cut adrift to right back in it, and despite being the DS’s whipping boy since they came out in 2004, the PSP is now doing respectable numbers (in hardware, at least), is still gaining features through firmware updates and impressive interoperability with the PS3, and, for my money, has had the best games of all the systems so far this year.

I’ve already blogged about the charming Patapon and phenomenal(ly short) God of War, and I’m sure you’re familiar with those recent gems. Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII is out in the States and looks insanely good for a PSP game; it takes a while to get going and progress from being a fairly monotonous button masher (never thought I’d accuse a Final Fantasy game of being that) to something unique and extremely playable, slightly reminiscent of the real-time-but-not-quite combat of Final Fantasy XII. The strange things that Square’s been doing with this series makes me extremely curious – not to mention anxious – about what FFXIII will do.

Technically it’s a 2007 release, but I’ve also been playing Silent Hill Origins, which is a technically impressive and extremely solid entry to the series, that anyone worried about how a Western development team will handle Silent Hill V should take a good look at. That handful of games, together with the always-excellent homebrew community (check out the brilliant Rorschach to see what people can do), have ensured that the PSP has been my most played machine for the first few months of the year.

Just like the Wii is never going to be in any danger of being caught by the PS3, the DS and PSP are barely really in competition in that respect. But while the Nintendo machines have had a handful of recent good games – Smash Bros. on the Wii; Apollo Justice and Professor Layton on the DS – the Sony machines have shined this year. Nintendo really doesn’t have much confirmed beyond Mario Kart, while we all know about the PS3’s 2008 lineup and the PSP, while perhaps not having much of its own beyond Crisis Core, will profit from association. Bionic Commando Rearmed, for example, is confirmed to be playable on the PSP via Remote Play.

It may be that tepid software sales and rampant piracy has a detrimental effect on the PSP’s future as an independent system, and it’s been accused of being little more than a PS2 port machine in the past (the ironic thing being that several high profile PSP games have now been ported back to PS2), but with any luck its recent software successes will keep the fires burning. Whether as a games machine, a PS3 accessory, or a portable media player (watching films and TV shows on it is great, if occasionally unflattering to the screen’s poor refresh rate), the PSP has been showing itself as a late bloomer.

God, this year’s Sony praise is making me feel a bit sick. I’ll be sure to compensate once Ninja Gaiden 2 is out.

God of War: Chains of Olym…oh

As shallow as they are, I do rather enjoy the God of War games. It’s no Ninja Gaiden or Devil May Cry when it comes to depth of the combat system, and Kratos makes Marcus Fenix look like a Marlon Brando performance, but in terms of spectacle and art design it’s almost peerless. Last year I said how ridiculously good God of War II looked for a PS2 game, and now I’m pretty much about to say the same thing about the PSP prequel. I mean, just look at it…

God of War: Chains of Olympus

It’s so pretty that I’m just going to drop in another screenshot here…

God of War: Chains of Olympus

Epic temples with nice lighting are all well and good, of course, but what about enemies? Here you go…

God of War: Chains of Olympus

And it wouldn’t be God of War without the ludicrous sex scene that mysteriously never gets debated on Fox News. I’ll be kind to the working folks and leave that one as a text link.

Wowee. And those don’t even show the most epic areas, coming as they do from within the first hour of the game. In other words, the first 25% of the campaign. There lies the major problem with this game.

Chains of Olympus is really short – less than five hours the first time through – and while it’s all extremely high quality stuff and I’m already on my second playthrough (admittedly not entirely from choice, given that the save from the promo copy I was playing for the last week doesn’t carry over to my retail copy), it’s getting slightly annoying when big games all turning out to be slightly slim on the content front. Halo 3, Uncharted, Gears, Heavenly Sword, this…all recent high profile games which are lucky to hit eight hours, and yet still cost £50.

Still, I’ve always said that I’d prefer a short but great game to an artificially extended and average game, and I’m sticking by that. Chains of Olympus is a proper God of War game – spectacular graphics, a rollicking rollercoaster ride – and I still enjoy them despite the flaws. The games are a guilty pleasure, like watching Independence Day on Blu-ray when I have 2001: A Space Odyssey here, and five hours of great spectacle on a handheld is something to dip into, almost short enough to blast through in one sitting on a long plane or train journey.

What with it being a PSP game, I don’t expect this game to do particularly well, but if you’re one of those people who’s fallen off the PSP wagon and hasn’t bought a game in months, this one is well worth a look. With Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII due this month as well, it might even be worth charging up the thing again.

Best of 2007 #8: God of War II

God of War II

As far as I’m concerned it’s testament to how strong the 3D action genre is at the moment when my least favourite of the current big three – Devil May Cry, God of War, Ninja Gaiden – can make number eight in my best of the year. With 2008 due to bring us a new installment in all three series…well, the phrase “pig in shit” comes to mind.

It’s fitting that a console that brought such a vast library of great games got a send-off as spectacular as God of War II. Nine times out of ten such a major game wouldn’t have come to the ‘obsolete’ console when its successor was out there and, at the time certainly, wanting for AAA titles. But the fact that it could run on the PS2 is all the more impressive when you see it. I don’t know what development voodoo the developers have done, but at times this game pushes around things that most games of the HD generation wish they could do.

It’s only real flaw is that it’s God of War. That is, it’s more of a button masher than its genre counterparts and is ultimately as shallow as Kratos himself. But it’s not trying for the technical mastery of Ninja Gaiden or the deep combo system of Devil May Cry. It’s a rollercoaster ride, about the fireworks more than the grey matter despite being ostensibly the same genre. It’s Independence Day to their Bourne Identity. And while one is clearly better than the other, I have plenty of time for both.

Having played the PSP demo, I can’t wait to see what the team can do with the PS3 hardware in 2009. Killzone what?

On My God of War Ambivalence

Although in my previous impressions I said that I liked GOW2, I talked about how I didn’t really get it. Hardly surprising – it’s happened before, and I’ve taken it back before. I might be about to take this one back too.

My main problem that it’s a bit of a button masher stands, and the combat is undoubtedly more concerned with being flashy than mechanically strong, but I went back to the first God of War rather than throwing myself into the middle with the sequel. Even with the ending completely spoiled for me, I can feel myself getting onto the wavelength of the game and now intend to get back to GOW2 when I’ve finished this one.

So yeah, I’m enjoying it a lot and it’s not as flawed as I might have implied. It is flawed and not by any stretch of the imagination a ten, but still great fun. Buy it.

Kratos Smash!

God of War 2

I cannot believe what David Jaffe and SCE Santa Monica can make a PS2 do. That’s the overriding impression from watching and playing God of War 2. It’s incredible – you’ve probably seen the videos of the fight with the Colossus of Rhodes, and that pretty much makes up the whole first level. And then the next one puts you up against Typhon, who is even bigger. At this rate the final boss will be the planet Jupiter or something.

Everything else is understandably going to be a bit of a come down after that – especially when it gives you the Metroid-style contrivance to which you lose all your superpowered abilities gathered throughout the original and are forced to re-aquire them – and when the action has to exist at a sane level it plays much the same as God of War. I’m yet to come up against any of the really frustrating sticking points that the first game had (that crate pushing towards the archers on the first level nearly made me give up) and the combat is still more concerned with being visceral than the mechanics. And I mean ‘visceral’ in the most literal sense possible.

That’s the main problem I have with the game. Like its predecessor, GOW2 is beautiful to look at and seemingly reliant on that, as well as the always-interesting Greek mythology, to drive me to keep playing. Combat, while improving as you go through the game and get more attacks and therefore more options, is a bit of a button mash. Maybe it was deliberate in that it reflects Kratos as a character – lots of shouting and saying things like “RARGH!” a lot, hence the earlier Hulk allusion – or maybe it’s just a bit basic. It seems like a better game than the first one because it hasn’t, thus far, moved me to try to destroy a pad, which is probably a good thing considering that the reviews reckon it’ll take about twice as long to finish.

So if a PS2 can do this, who needs next-gen consoles with HD graphics? Me, for one. But this proves that the old ones shouldn’t be thrown in the cupboard just yet. A tentative thumbs up from me.