God of War: Origins Collection hands-on preview

It’s sad, isn’t it? God of War III was the last in Kratos’s console trilogy, and since its release there hasn’t been a new game announced for PlayStation 3. What’s a hungry God of War fan to do? Fear not, as there’s one remaining God of War experience in the works (that we know of), and it’s coming to the PS3 in September. The God of War: Origins Collection bundles Kratos’s PSP journeys onto a Blu-ray and adds Trophies, stereoscopic 3D graphics, and the full HD treatment. We’ve spent a few hours of ripping out Cyclops’s eyes and tearing off harpies’ wings, and it looks like God of War fans have a lot to be excited about.

When Chains of Olympus and Ghost of Sparta were released on PSP they were acclaimed for providing a full God of War experience on the go. Now that they’ve been wrangled onto the PS3, we’re able to test how they really stand next to the console God of War trilogy. The biggest surprise came from the controls, which have been tailored to fall more in line with what PS3 owners have come to expect from God of War. The PSP’s button layout and lack of a second analog stick lead to some minor, necessary changes to the controls for the portable version, but those modifications have been reverted, leading to slightly faster, more fluid gameplay. We didn’t complain when we had to hold the hold the PSP’s shoulder buttons to execute Kratos’s signature roll, but being able to simply flick the right analog stick instead is a change we welcome with open arms.

And in case there was any question, the games are really good, too. They feature the same fast, brutal combat God of Wars fans live for, and it only looks better on the PS3. 2008’s Chains of Olympus has some occasional visual rough patches, and while Kratos and most of the enemies we encountered looked fine, we did stumble over things that looked out of place. Early on we ran through some foes that simply didn’t have what we generally refer to as “faces”—the textures where they should have been were so blurry that it looked like a smear with loosely defined features. It wasn’t really all that troubling (and, to be honest, their faces were only around for a few seconds before we tore them off), but it definitely stood out. This was the exception, not the rule, as the rest of what we saw looked good.

Ghost of Sparta, however, doesn’t really share this issue. Bumped to 720, it stands toe-to-toe with some of the earlier releases on PS3, with strong character models and environments. The textures obviously didn’t match what we expect from modern games, but it was hard to find time to complain while dicing apart enemies in 720p. And no matter how hectic things got (and things got pretty hectic), the framerate stayed strong, and it felt consistently God of War-y.

We’re genuinely astonished by how much they feel like PS3 games. We expected some lingering elements, in the controls or gameplay, that made it feel like a PSP game being played on the big screen. There weren’t any. Instead of playing like handheld games, they feel like classic God of War adventures we simply forgot to play, and we’re totally, unabashedly cool with that. Look for our full review later this month.

Aug 15, 2011

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