At this point in God of War’s illustrious history, there is absolutely no excuse to miss a single game on any of Sony’s platforms. This is especially true now that the two PlayStation Portable entries are coming to the PlayStation 3 in full 1080p HD, with Trophy and 3D support, DualShock/rumble compatibility, and stunning surround sound audio. But the best part of this package is that those that skipped these handheld hits will get both these terrific games – namely God of War: Ghost of Sparta and God of War: Chains of Olympus – on a single Blu-ray disc. Make no mistake: if you missed either game because you don’t own a PSP or you simply decided to pass on them for some odd reason, both titles are excellent additions to the God of War franchise.
Developed under the careful hands of Ready At Dawn Studios, both Chains of Olympus and Ghost of Sparta are easily two of the best games available in the PSP line-up. As the bundle’s Origins moniker implies, the pair helps shed some light on protagonist Kratos’ early days in more than pint-sized installments, featuring slick gameplay and stunning graphics. The games translate extremely well to the PS3, and while the visuals aren’t quite on par with God of War III, they are as good, if not better, than those found in the God of War Collection.
Chains of Olympus is a dark game, in many respects. Morpheus has cast a spell on the land and Kratos must choose between his personal redemption and saving the world from yet another jerk god. It’s a story that works extremely well and mirrors many of the plot twists and storytelling we’ve seen in the first two God of War games. If you are a diehard God of War fan and you haven’t experienced Chains of Olympus, you should feel ashamed! Just kidding (sort of), but you have absolutely no excuse not to broaden your collection and continue the storyline of Kratos and his struggles against the gods. (Check out our full review of Chains of Olympus here.)
The same can be said for Ghost of Sparta. Kratos is haunted by visions of an old woman near death, with the game sending you on a quest to save the damsel in distress. Ghost of Sparta takes place between the two PlayStation 2 games, and brings Kratos off his throne to venture into Atlantis. It’s a game with some improved features from Chains of Olympus, varied settings, and equally intense action. (Check out our full review of Ghost of Sparta here.)
Both games in their original PSP incarnation proved a meaty showcase for the power of Sony’s handheld, and while they translate quite well to the PS3, the experience is hindered by some occasional graphic pauses, which is the best way to describe the issues. Also, at some points during massive battles, the graphics seem to overload a bit and slow down the action. Neither of these are massive issues at all, but it’s something that will draw your eyes occasionally away from the otherwise impressive visuals and gameplay.
Kratos still twirls around with his blades chained to his arms. He gets different weapons and magic, all of which can be upgraded. As in every God of War game, Kratos starts off as a wimp – at least, compared to how you left him in the last game that is. The same is true in both Chains of Olympus and Ghost of Sparta. But Ready At Dawn does a terrific job pacing player progression; in both games, you’ll never feel like you are waiting for the next upgrade, the next spell, or the next weapon—it just happens seamlessly.
Puzzles return in both titles, but to a lesser extent in comparison to the PS2 and PS3 God of War games. There are no upgraded puzzles; in fact, nothing has really changed in the translation from PSP to PS3, and that is not a bad thing at all. Compared to the console releases, we get to see a different, shall we say less angry, version of Kratos. We see his human side, we learn more about his past, his family, and we even see some compassion for his soldiers.
There are noticeably less boss battles in the PSP games, but they are nonetheless just as epic and gargantuan as you’d expect. For example, one of the opening segments in Ghost of Sparta features a massive encounter, one of the biggest you’ll find—that is, besides the opening from God of War III. Boss battles operate the same as the other God of War games, requiring the player to engage in a quick-time event to put an end to the big baddie. In addition, the puzzles are a bit smaller, almost easier than other God of War titles. This worked just fine on the PSP, and when it’s translated to the PS3, we didn’t really feel like we were missing out on anything.
Both games are relatively short, running between seven to eight hours, and there isn’t a huge reason to play through a second time. For the record, Chains of Olympus is a bit shorter than Ghost of Sparta. Meanwhile, the transition to PS3 has also added the ability to dodge with the right analog stick, which, for obvious reasons, was not available on the PSP versions. It does, however, keep the magic system from the PSP version; you simply hold down R and press triangle, square, or circle to activate your magical abilities. Each game comes with a new weapon that, unlike earlier God of War games, is extremely useful, and in some cases, absolutely necessary. Ready At Dawn did a great job of incorporating these weapons into not only the boss battles, but also the puzzles to boot.
God of War: Origins Collection also comes loaded with bonuses content like DLC and a Game Directors Live roundtable video. There are some other small goodies that we’ll save for you to discover, but the extras are relatively minimal. Diehard God of War fans will enjoy the extras, but they’ll absolutely love experiencing more of Kratos’s tale.
The Origins Collection is a terrific addition to the God of War series, and even if you already own the two games on the PSP, there are plenty of reasons to play them again—even if it’s just to nab some more Trophies. There’s very little to criticize about these games and the Blu-ray collection. For those of us who have played Chains of Olympus and Ghost of Sparta to death, though, it’s a reminder of how great the God of War franchise holds up, and how badly we want to see a PlayStation Vita iteration. Do yourself a favor and pick up God of War: Origins Collection to relive two of the best games on the PSP. Even if you already own both titles, there’s more than enough incentive to pick up this Blu-ray bundle and relive the experience all over again in beautiful high definition.