Remastering two amazing PSP games, the way it should be done.

User Rating: 9 | God of War Collection: Volume II PS3
The original God of War Collection (which packed in remasters of God of War 1 & 2) started the whole HD remastered gimmick that's been creeping up on gamers for the past few months. It figures however, that since we have GoW 1 & 2 remastered for PS3, we might as well get the PSP titles remastered while we're at it. So here comes the God of War: Origins Collection, packing in God of War: Chains of Olympus & last year's Ghost of Sparta.

Story
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Calling the collection the Origins collection fits, because both of the games included are both prequels. Chains of Olympus take place before God of War 1, and sees Kratos (still in service of the gods) sent to battle off the Persian army at the city of Attica. However, as the battle goes on, he witnesses a thick, black fog of the Olympian Morpheus, which is covering the land in darkness. Kratos is asked by the goddess Athena, to find the missing sun god, needed to banish Morpheus. Meanwhile, Kratos also ends up trying to find his daughter Calliope.

Chains of Olympus tries to put a more human element to Kratos, but it doesn't really work. For all their efforts, the emotional element only comes in near the end, and by that it's a bit too late. It doesn't fail completely however, as it is pretty easy to see what kind of role Kratos has in all of this. It's a decent story that takes a rather violent, but fun spin on Greek mythology.

Ghost of Sparta takes place between God of War 1 & 2. Killing Ares, who rebelled against the gods, Kratos has become the new God of War, and has completed his service to the gods. However, he is still haunted by the memories of his past, despite the gods promising him they'd get rid of them. Against the will of the gods, Kratos decides to explore his past, and finds out that his brother Deimos, who was taken away by the gods as a kid, is still alive. So Kratos goes on, doing everything he can to find his brother.

Like Chains of Olympus, Ghost of Sparta tries to put a more human element to Kratos. And while Kratos still goes on essentially destroying the world, it does work a bit more, than previously. The story does a much better job with delving into his past, and making you care for his quest to find his brother. It still goes on a bit too fast, but for what it's worth, it's the best story the series has seen to date.

In both games, the writing is pretty good, and none of the stories results in any over the top or silly plot twists. It makes Greek mythology interesting, and though they all receive a brutal end, they do pay some well-deserved respects to the Greek gods in all the right ways.

8.0

Gameplay
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Both titles essentially play the same as their PS2 & PS3 counterparts. It's still a hack and slash game, where you have to brutally murder any monster that stands between you and where you need to be. Both games however do have their differences. Chains of Olympus focus more on puzzles and platforms, toning down the battles against the huge monsters, which might come as a surprise, while Ghost of Sparta has an equal balance between puzzles, platforming and combat, but has a deeper combat system, with even more moves and weapons, and richer and huger set pieces. Both games also have quick time events, for killing off monsters or story segments. They aren't over used or tagged on, like in most games, but they do succeed at making you feel more involved in the game's action and story, which is always a good thing.

While the games were made for the PSP, which has more limitations than the PS2 and a limited control scheme, neither game feels like they heavily sacrificed their PS2 features in order to make the jump to portable play. Yes, Chains of Olympus doesn't have as many huge monster battles as on PS2, but it also plays like its PS2 brethren, with no features getting cut. It's an impressive feat overall. Ghost of Sparta however features all you'd expect from the PS2 (& PS3) brethren, more battles with huge monsters and all. If anything, parts of the game is even more impressive than God of War 3, and that is no small feat. The controls aren't as impressive as on the PSP (due to limited controls), but it does mean that if anyone ever had issues playing them on the PSP (which shouldn't be too many), those issues are likely eliminated now with the additional buttons.

Different weapons and moves are always nice, but the gameplay is very familiar to all the previous God of War games. There are minimal tweaks to the combat, the controls are almost the same, and at the end of the day, you do kill monsters and finish some of them off with a quick time event. It kind of is a good thing, because why fix what isn't broken and works really well, though some additions would have been nice. Another complaint is the fixed camera, which is certain to ruin maybe one or two platform sections, and it can obscure enemies, since it's easy for them to attack you when their off screen.

The games aren't the longest out there, especially Chains of Olympus. It takes around 6-7 hours to complete, while Ghost of Sparta takes around 8-10 hours. Both games however have challenge modes and bonus costumes and content to unlock. Being that the game is remastered, both games also includes trophy support, and there's a platinum for each game. They aren't too difficult to earn, but it does give the hardcore fans a reason to replay them.

9.0

Graphics & Sound
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Both games looks like a PSP title (unsurprisingly), but the visuals overall have been remastered to support 720p, and it even has 3D support (As useless as that is). It looks good, but it's easy to see that the games were made for the PSP, especially Ghost of Olympus, which has some models that does look incredibly weird. At least, the cut-scenes have been remastered as well, so there's no sudden dip in quality, like in the original God of War collection. Both games also run at a smooth 60 frames per second. The games look pretty good on the big screen, which is quite a feat.

The sound is spectacular. Sound effects are loud and powerful, complimented by some strong voice acting which never includes a dull moment, and an epic soundtrack, which is one of the most epic you'll ever hear in video games.

10

Overall
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Though both games plays similar to the PS2/3 games, and doesn't feature a lot of improvements, God of War is still relevant, though mainly because of the "don't fix what isn't broken" rule. Both games were amazing on the PSP (though Chains of Olympus less than Ghost of Sparta), and their still amazing today. If you're a God of War fan, chances are you'll likely get it for the trophies and remastered graphics. But for everyone who hasn't played God of War on the PSP, or any of the games at all, now is a good time to start doing so. As the series that stared the HD remastering business, the God of War Origin Collection shows how it has to be done.