PlayStation Vita Reviews Video Games

God Of War Vita Collection Review

With the God Of War Vita Collection, Sony brings 2005’s God Of War and 2007’s God Of War II to the titular handheld console. But while there’s no reason to get this two-fer if you’ve already played these action games, or if you own a PlayStation 2 or 3 and can thus play the originals or the HD remakes that are in the God Of War Collection and the God Of War Saga, for Vita owners who missed them, this compilation is absolutely worth the price of admission…even if it does have some flaws.

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For those unfamiliar with this series, God Of War and God Of War II are third-person hack & slash games in which you play as Kratos, a surly Spartan warrior with delusions of grandeur. When not slicing and dicing his way through the pantheon of Greek gods and monsters, Kratos enjoys solving puzzles, performing magic tricks, running and jumping, and long walks in the park.

While the original games were made for the PlayStation 2 by Sony Santa Monica, the versions on the God Of War Vita Collection comes courtesy of Sanzaru Games, who previously ported 2008’s Secret Agent Clank to the PS2, and made The Sly Collection for the PS3 in 2010 and, as of May 27th, on the Vita as well. And as ports go, the ones on the God Of War Vita Collection are rather faithful. Be it the visuals, the sound effects, or even the menu design, the versions of God Of War and God Of War II here look exactly as I remember them.

This, for the most part, is a good thing. Both games in the God Of War Vita Collection were known for having silky smooth and intuitive controls, and they do here as well. This is especially true of the combat, which lets you button mash your way to victory, but handsomely rewards those who use its combos and finishing moves. Which is why, when Kratos really gets going in a fight, it’s like a blood ballet that’s still largely unmatched, even this many years later.

Sadly, not everything has managed to age — or not age, as the case may be — so gracefully. While the musical score is still appropriately epic and cinematic, and the voice acting similarly grandiose, some of the sound effects are cheesier than I remember.

God Of War Vita Collection TINY

Similarly, the visual fidelity on the God Of War Vita Collection isn’t that impressive. Yes, it does accurately recreate the look of the original games. But what looked great in 2005 and 2007 doesn’t look great in 2014.

Thankfully, these are just a superficial observations, as there’s nothing about these games’ graphics or sound effects — either then or now — that impedes the gameplay in any way.

This is not to say that the God Of War Vita Collection is totally faithful to the originals. For starters, you now have to press on the system’s back touchpad when you want to grab the handle to a door or chest, or you want to save your game. Why? No idea. It’s far less comfortable than pressing a button, and sometimes you have to hit it two or three times for it to work, while it’s also easy for your finger to slip and hit it, bringing in up the save menu for a second or third time. What’s worse is that, unlike some Vita games, you can’t just use the buttons instead.

Though, on the flipside, literally, using the front touchscreen for some special magical attacks works well because the icons you have to hit are on the right side of the screen, well within thumb mashing distance of the regular buttons.

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It also seems that the first game (and only the first game)is, at times, slightly harder than I remember. There’s a sequence early on, for instance, in which Kratos pushes a large wooden box to both shield himself from incoming arrows, and so he can use it to jump up onto a ledge. And maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think the box was made of rotten balsa wood when I played God Of War on the PS2, because I don’t remember the box breaking as easily then as it does now.

Then there’s an issue that isn’t the fault of the God Of War Vita Collection itself, but of the Vita. For starters, trying to use the right thumbstick to dodge is slightly harder since, compared to the one on the PlayStation 2’s controller, it’s much shorter and thus much harder to swipe in the heat of battle.

Though the Vita also helps the God Of War Vita Collection solve a shortcoming these games had on the PlayStation 2. In both God Of War and God Of War II, you can only save at certain spots. But since the Vita has a standby function, you can just put the Vita into sleep mode when you want to take a break, picking up where you left off later.

Regardless of what has or has not changed, and what is and is not better on Sony’s handheld versus their home console, the best thing about God Of War and God Of War II in the God Of War Vita Collection how well they hold up. They’re still challenging action-packed adventures, full of epic battles driven by a grand, cinematic story. Heck, even having a fixed camera — which had made such similarly revived contemporaries as 2003’s Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater and 2005’s Resident Evil 4 feel really dated — still works rather well here.

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Still, the God Of War Vita Collection isn’t worth getting if you’ve already played these games on the PlayStation 2. Or if you’ve played the HD PS3 remakes. Or if you can wait for the inevitable PlayStation 4 versions. But if you’ve missed these games before — and own a Vita but not a PS2 or PS3…and you like hack & slash action games…and you wonder what Clash Of The Titans would be like as a game where a moody, self-centered Vin Diesel-looking dude smacks a bunch of minotaurs — then you owe it to yourself to get this collection.

SCORE: 8.0


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