God of War is one of those rare video game franchises where every game in the series has been a spectacular achievement in terms of gameplay, graphics, and storytelling. For the most part the series has been exclusive to the PS2/PS3, with the three main games in the series releasing on the consoles. In between them, however, were two equally as fantastic games for the PSP—2008’s Chains of Olympus and Ghost of Sparta, which released last year. Now fans of the series can finally get their hands on these two titles with the Origins Collection, the only question whether or not anything was lost when they were transferred to the PS3.
I’m happy to say that not only has everything from the portable games returned in this version, the games actually look better and there’s new content here as well. This a busy couple months for HD re-releases, with Resident Evil 4 and Code Veronica releasing last month, Ico and Shadow of the Colossus soon after, and the Silent Hill remastered collection on the way; there are plenty of games coming out with refreshed visuals. The Origins Collection helps to set itself apart by offering 3D support, along with the crisper look.
Visually, both games are stunning. They looked great on the PSP, almost matching the original two on the PS2, but with HD support (up to 720p) they’re crisper and clearer than ever. Being able to play Chains of Olympus and Ghost of Sparta back to back, it’s easy to see the massive jump in quality between the two games, which is to be expected as they were released two years apart. Ghost of Sparta looks amazing, but both are pretty easy on the eyes.
The Origins Collection is also unique in that it’s the first release in the series to come with Stereoscopic 3D support, so if you’re lucky enough to have a 3D HDTV, you can experience each of these games in a brand new way. Both games run as smoothly as you’d expect from a God of War game, never dropping below 60 frames per second, and the collection also brings with it a handful of bonus content to satiate even the most hardcore of God of War fans.
Obviously, there’s full trophy support, and alongside that is some content that was previously only available to those who preordered the games, like the Forgotten combat arena that comes with Ghost of Sparta. There’s also a fascinating God of War – Game Directors Live featurette and a Kratos Legionnaire costume.
For the uninitiated, Chains of Olympus was the first God of War game to come out on the PSP. It offers much of what fans have come to expect from the series, including epic boss fights, finely tuned combat, quick-time events, and a few puzzles sprinkled on to break up the gameplay. This game controls much like the first two games in the series, so it doesn’t have some of the tweaks and additions God of War 3 brought to the series, and specifically to the combat (like the charging move).
Of course, the Blades of Chaos make their triumphant return, and they’re joined by two new weapons called the Sun Shield and Gauntlet of Zeus. There are also a few new magical abilities, like the Light of Dawn and Charon’s Wrath, and the red orb, Phoenix Feather, and Gorgon Eye collecting are still used for upgrading your weapons and abilities. Chains of Olympus also introduces a few new enemies to the mix and a Challenge of Hades mode.
Where Chains of Olympus is a prequel to the main series, Ghost of Sparta is set between the original game and the mobile God of War: Betrayal. Since it only released last year, it looks noticeably better and comes with a variety of new features, many of which were introduced in God of War 3. These additions include charging at enemies before pummeling them into the ground, throwing enemies, and a new feature that gives each weapon and magic power a unique execution scene.
Ghost of Sparta is also quite a bit longer than its predecessor and brings even more weapons: the Blades of Athena, Arms of Sparta, and the devastating Thera’s Bane, which imbues Kratos’ blades with fire. There are also three new challenge modes: the Challenge of the Gods, Challenges of Athena, and Challenges of Ares, which offer much to do long after the campaign is completed.
It goes without saying that the God of War Origins Collection is a must-have for any fan of the series. If you haven’t had the chance to play these games there is a ton of content to keep you busy for a very long time, and even if you’ve already played one or both of them, the new HD visuals, trophies, Dualshock and 3D support make them worth jumping into again. There really isn’t anything else you could ask for from this collection, and don’t let their PSP origins fool you; Ghost of Sparta and Chains of Olympus are full games with a ton of content and epic stories.